Peter Cun­dall:

The sim­ple, un­adorned beauty of win­ter, of­ten punc­tu­ated by the early emer­gence of bulbs makes win­ter in Tas­ma­nia PETER CUN­DALL’S favourite sea­son of all

Sunday Tasmanian - Tassie Living - - NEWS -

Cel­e­brates our win­ter won­ders

Win­ter is an ideal time for land­scap­ing and re-or­gan­is­ing ex­ist­ing gar­dens

We shouldn’t be sur­prised by the rapidly-in­creas­ing num­bers of tourists now vis­it­ing Tas­ma­nia in the mid­dle of our rel­a­tively chilly win­ter.

What makes it as­ton­ish­ing to me is that so many are di­rectly ar­riv­ing from warm or trop­i­cal parts of Aus­tralia. Clearly many are here just to ex­pe­ri­ence and even en­joy our win­ters.

When I meet them, hap­pily rugged up in warm clothes they tell me why they love it. It’s so dif­fer­ent from what they are used to and I agree be­cause win­ter is by far my favourite sea­son.

This is a beau­ti­ful time of the year and I get enor­mous plea­sure just by see­ing de­cid­u­ous trees, to­tally leaf­less and dis­play­ing won­der­fully-bal­anced pat­terns of bare, black branches.

In the tiny val­ley where we live, night­time tem­per­a­tures cer­tainly drop well be­low freez­ing, but they are usu­ally fol­lowed by sparkling, sunny days and beau­ti­fully cool, brac­ing air.

Early one morn­ing last week I glanced at our gar­den from the warm com­fort of our liv­ing room.

The sim­ple, un­adorned beauty had a spe­cial en­chant­ment. Soft, slowly-drift­ing mist half-con­cealed many trees and shrubs. Droop­ing cur­tains of weep­ing wil- low branches were al­ready tak­ing on a gleam­ing, yel­low-green; in­di­cat­ing that we are on our way back to spring.

Down be­low massed drifts helle­bores were al­ready blooming, snow­drop colonies had de­fi­antly popped up and great clumps of early jon­quils made great golden splashes be­neath the naked trees.

So I pulled on a thick jumper and went wan­der­ing.

On any cold and misty morn­ing there is al­ways a sweet, an­cient smell of earth and de­com­pos­ing fallen leaves. On this day, some­thing else was in the air, the un­for­get­table, spicy fra­grances from three hardy, win­ter-flow­er­ing shrubs, a Chi­nese Win­ter­sweet (Chi­mo­nan­thus prae­cox) with its small highly-scented, translu­cent yel­low flow­ers, daphne odora with gor­geously-scented, rosy-pink flow­ers and an

al­most for­got­ten nee­dle-bush (Hakea sericea) with its pink spi­der flow­ers and pow­er­ful, honey-like scent.

Sev­eral sasan­qua camel­lias were cov­ered in flower in var­i­ous shades of pink and one large seedling was a mass of semi-dou­ble white blooms.

A retic­u­lata camel­lia – also grown from seed – has al­ready un­folded sev­eral huge, deep-pink flow­ers, each with a large golden boss of sta­mens. On this moist win­ter morn­ing, the deeply-waved petals were beaded with glit­ter­ing dew, a breath­tak­ing but com­mon sight in many Tas­ma­nian win­ter gar­dens.

Win­ter is a time of wait­ing and we sense it in the si­lence and still­ness. Yet deep in the cold, moist soil there is in­tense ac­tiv­ity.

New roots have al­ready be­gun to pen­e­trate deeper and wider in a re­lent­less search for mois­ture and nu­tri­ents. Long dor­mant seeds have started to swell, but also pause, some­times for weeks un­til soil tem­per­a­tures rise just high enough for safe ger­mi­na­tion.

Win­ter is a per­fect time to work out in the gar­den. There is no more sat­is­fy­ing plea­sure than hard phys­i­cal work with­out sweaty dis­com­fort or ir­ri­ta­tion by flies. After all, this is the busiest plant­ing time of the year, es­pe­cially for plant­ing new de­cid­u­ous trees, shrubs and roses.

Win­ter is ideal for di­vid­ing and open­ing up clumps of con­gested peren­ni­als while still in win­ter sleep.

Steadily length­en­ing day­light hours also mean we can safely plant seedlings of hardy veg­eta­bles in­clud­ing onions, gar­lic, cab­bage, cau­li­flower, broc­coli, as­para­gus, peas, broad beans, win­ter let­tuce, globe ar­ti­chokes and Jerusalem ar­ti­chokes.

In fact, seeds of most bras­si­cas can now be sown un­der cover so healthy seedlings are ready to go in dur­ing early spring.

That means full ma­tu­rity well be­fore sum­mer’s cater­pil­lars and grubs get a chance to move in.

Win­ter is ideal for land­scap­ing and re­or­gan­is­ing ex­ist­ing gar­dens. Al­most all trees and shrubs may be safely planted or trans­planted this month.

Still, it’s nice to look for­ward to spring when our gar­dens ex­plode with colour. But to be hon­est, right through those warm, golden spring and sum­mer days, some of us will be qui­etly look­ing for­ward to the magic of our coldly-beau­ti­ful win­ter gar­dens.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Australia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.