Monthly Archives: November 2015

Tumbarumba’s garden festival

Tumbarumba sounds like a Mexican hat dance…. in fact it is a lovely little town, on the western edges of the Snowy Mountains about three hours drive from Canberra.

IMG_1545 (1024x882)

With a population of about 2 000 people,  the cold climate gardens in this little town would do a Chelsea garden show proud, and the hospitality of the people is to match.

Prior to the arrival of Europeans, the area around Tumbarumba has been Wiradjuri country for at least 20 000 years. The name Tumbarumba comes from the Wiradjuri language, and is thought to mean ”sounding ground”, or ”hollow ground”.

The first garden we visited, called Burraleigh, gave us some incidental history of the region.

In the 1850s gold was discovered in this district…

IMG_6587 (1024x944)

Ned Kelly, a famous bushranger during the 1800s, was also found wandering in the garden, but in fact, the Tumbarumba region had its own fearsome bushranger called  Mad Dog Morgan.

IMG_6585 (1024x1016)

Now, in more peaceful times, this garden has been lovingly developed over 30 years, and has magnificent deciduous and evergreen trees overlooking themed gardens.

IMG_1544 (1024x734)

 

IMG_1547 (1024x734)

 

IMG_6608 (1024x841)IMG_6600 (1024x737)

 

 

 

More gardens, and Blueberry pancakes had been recommended at the Laurel Hill Berry Farm, just outside of the town, built on the historic Miners Arms Hotel.

IMG_1579 (1024x765)

and the Coachman’s hut still remains, with netted blueberries behind it.

IMG_6771 (1024x512)

IMG_1574 (1024x700)

IMG_3660 (768x1024)

IMG_3666 (768x1024)

IMG_3656 (576x1024)

IMG_1573 (1024x946)IMG_3667 (768x1024)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In the tradition of spring in these parts, a young female magpie was very upset by all the people visiting the normally, quiet, berry farm. She was ruthlessly swooping everyone in sight, even though, we were told by the owner, the babies had almost grown….

IMG_6793 (1024x992)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

it was hard to concentrate on our delicious blueberry pancakes…

IMG_3670 (768x1024)

but somehow we struggled through..

IMG_3672 (768x1024)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ann’s garden, amongst the rolling hills, began with this small back yard, and has grown and spread over 30 years. This design is typical of a bygone era of Australian gardens, with the hills hoist (clothes line) in the middle, and a very practical cement path leading to the clothes line and the gate.

IMG_6727 (1024x689)

The garden had spread over time. Meandering paths lead to oaks, maples, hazelnuts and apple trees, and flowering shrubs

IMG_1568 (1024x890)

Ann manages a thriving vegetable patch and some chooks to provide eggs and manure.I wondered about snakes coming over from the fields beyond, but I didn’t want to sound like a city wimp, so I kept quiet.

Further out of town is a beef farm, called Karbethon, with a stunning garden developed over fifty years. The garden is loving cared for by Colin and Diane Hardy, and was started by Colin’s mother.

IMG_1550 (1024x765)This property is more like a park, with mature trees, including Old English Oaks, Italian Alders, Canadian Maples, Chinese Tallow, Liquidamber and many more. On this hot day, I’m enjoying the shade of this tranquil place.

IMG_6641 (1024x754)

We have a small Japanese Maple, and now we are wondering…will it reach this size?

IMG_6631 (1024x591)

This is a wonderfully spreading Chinese Tallow tree…we have one of these in our front garden…when we bought it the label said ”small tree suitable for suburban gardens”

IMG_6675 (1024x827)

Along the driveway, a splendid white shrub is flowering. It was planted by Colin’s mother and has not flowered for many years, but today is in glorious bloom…..just in time for the garden festival.

IMG_6673 (1024x768)

IMG_6629 (1024x768)

Along the borders of the property are tall long-established grasses, no doubt providing wind breaks for the garden when it was first established. The original gum trees are spread around the property and on the edges of the driveway.

IMG_6655 (1024x623)

Behind these tall grasses  is another long beautiful garden, and some of Colin’s unique sculptures..

IMG_6640 (1024x892)

IMG_1556 (1024x765)

 

IMG_6665 (1024x847)Recently the family has constructed a Manchurian Pear walk which features attractive silhouettes, and on the first is engraved  Great Grandmother of Our Gardens. Walking through the path, there are silhouettes of each grandchild.

What a grand legacy this gardener has left behind.

(unfortunately the sun was too strong for a good photo.)

IMG_6661 (1024x768)

This garden was a fitting end to our garden tour….we hope to be back to see the ones we missed next year..

IMG_6671 (1024x634)

and on the way back we stopped to take a photo of this quiet, and very typical, country scene. Unfortunately the noise of one person getting out of the car and pointing a camera in their direction, sent the cows charging  off down the hill

….I really had forgotten how quiet it is in the country..

IMG_6680 (1024x645)

 

 

A morning walk at the National Arboretum

Recently the National Arboretum of Canberra opened new walking tracks and these have already become very popular with walkers in Canberra.

The Arboretum has more than 48 000 trees in 100 forests, and has been under development since 2003.

We started at a midpoint along the track…..at the top of Dairy Farmer Hill….seen in the distance in this photo. The Village Centre is on the right, the Margaret Whitlam Pavilion on the left, and a grassy amphitheatre for concerts in the centre.

IMG_1032 (1024x468)

The Village Centre is on the right and the Margaret Whitlam Pavilion is on the left, and a grassy amphitheatre in between the buildings. Dairy Farmers Hill in the distance

Standing at the top of Dairy Farmers Hill is a sculpture called Nest III, welded from discarded steel objects, mostly abandoned farm machinery found on farms around the region. The artist is Richard Moffatt.

IMG_6836 (1024x886)

the eagle looks out over the Arboretum, Lake Burley Griffin and the city.

While we were there a magpie was feeding her chick perched on the nest alongside that formidable looking eagle. Nice to see.

IMG_6838 (1024x545)

The Smokebush trees, the Saharan Cypress and the Canary Island Stawberry tree

This is a view of three of the forests below our path, leading down to the Village Centre.

Here is the purple-leaved Smokebush. Jackie French, a well known gardener and writer in Canberra once said that the Smokebush in her garden was the most asked about plant in her extensive garden!

IMG_6883 (1024x719)

The Smokebush is a garden hybrid and is widely used in parks and gardens, particularly for colour contrast.

In spring, fruits begin to form, hidden amongst a network of fine fluffy stems, giving the effect of clouds of coral pink smoke, hence the name Smokebush. During November the ”smoke” will turn dark red, and the stems will loose their fluffiness as the tiny dark red fruits appear.

IMG_6851 (1024x797)

Smokebush with tiny dark red fruits appearing. Further down the path are the Saharan cypress. In the distance is Black Mountain Tower.

As we walk down the hill we come to the Saharan cypress, considered to be endangered, with only 230 naturally occurring trees known to exist. In the Sahara, nomads shelter under the trees and their herds eat fallen cones, which in turn leads to fewer cypress trees growing.

IMG_6828 (1024x769)

Cupressus dupreziana, common name Saharan cypress.

 

IMG_6829 (1024x902)

The guide with me was pleased to see cones appearing on one of the trees, a sure sign they have adapted to life in Canberra!

 

IMG_6826 (989x1024)

Mediterranean Red Bud

Just before we reach the Village Centre we come to a forest where the trees are commonly called Judas Trees, or European Red Bud. This species grows in the Middle East and southern Europe, in woodlands, on stony arid slopes, and along banks of rivers. Here they are surviving well on a sloping part of the hill.

There is a long standing belief that  Judas Iscariot hanged himself on one of these trees, thus the name, but it could also have come from the French common name, Arbre de Judee, meaning the ”tree of Judea” referring to the hilly regions of the country where it is most common.

 

As we arrive at of the Village Centre, I took a photo of the beautiful stone walls with Acacias and grasses growing happily in the front. Very low maintenance!

IMG_6866 (1024x713)

There is an lookout right next to the Village Centre and these two beautiful trees were planted nearby.

I was not surprised to see they were the oldest Japanese black pines grown in Australia from imported seeds, and styled as Niwika, similar to Bonsai.

 

IMG_6870 (1024x693)

 

IMG_6871 (1024x920)

Meanwhile, on this sunny spring day, a family is already taking advantage of the grassy amphitheatre to fly a kite.

IMG_6860 (1024x923)

Another lovely green space in Canberra!

Only in Paris

IMG_0434 (1024x648)

In tribute to the sad events happening in Paris, I am reminded of our trip to Paris last year. As always, the markets of a city or a town tell so much of the character of a place.

IMG_0435 (768x1024)

 

IMG_0433 (1024x768)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

IMG_0438 (1024x768)

Okay, so they weren’t all markets……

IMG_0631 (1024x768)

I think we’ve covered all the major food groups for lunch…cheese, bread and wine…and of course the local patisserie…I loved the sing-song way they would say

“”Bonjour Madame!

…Bonjour Monsieur!”

IMG_0624 (1024x713)

IMG_0629 (1024x676)

IMG_1368 (1024x690)

 

IMG_0599 (768x1024)

 

You’d think these pesty tourists would let a cat sleep….

IMG_0598 (1024x768)

Our apartment was above the patisserie and the chocolate shop….the smells each morning were wonderful…

IMG_0634 (768x1024)

IMG_0403 (1024x961)

IMG_0448 2 (1024x798)When we  came back from sightseeing the markets were packed up for the night, and…..someone has made an bouquet  of the scraps of fruit and vegetable

…only in Paris

IMG_0622 (1024x768)

All photos copyrighted by Gerrie Mackey

Stepping out at the Arboretum

When I began this blog I wrote a post about the Arboretum in Canberra  (Arboretum, 100 trees… in 100 forests)..here is a photo from that post showing this beautiful place in the early morning.

IMG_1031 (1024x768)

Amongst the  newly growing forests in the Arboretum is one of the best kept secrets, a regional botanic garden called STEP (Southern Tablelands Ecosystems Park)

IMG_6455 (1024x648)This area has been designed to represent the native plants and trees typical to the Southern Highlands. These areas have forests, woodlands, grasslands, and wetlands.

IMG_6463 (1024x768)

Unlike all the other forests in the Arboretum, this forest has an understory of shrubs, herbs, grasses and ferns. As we walked down the path from the highest area to the wetlands I’ve concentrated on the flowering understory for photos, but just occasionally there is a lovely spring flowering Eucalypt..

IMG_6388 (1024x768)

…. this one is called Eucalyptus dalrympleana (Mountain Gum)

IMG_6404 (768x1024)

and a flowering Wee Jasper Grevillea ..

….. further down the path the open woodland area is being developed, the clumps of grass are called Poa sieberiana

IMG_6468 (1024x768)

Early the following morning I went back to take more photos, and I was reminded of my childhood in Africa ….. walking along paths lined by soft green grasses, and watching birds skimming through  them…but in this botanical garden there are street lights in the distance to remind me that we are very near a carpark, and the expressway to the city is not too far away.

IMG_6490 (1024x648)

The only bird happy to have his photo taken is this cockatoo, who was very busy eating the tips of the grasses.IMG_6312 (1024x768)

Here are some of the colourful spring flowering native plants and shrubs

IMG_6316 (768x1024)

IMG_6315 (1024x639)

 

 

 

 

IMG_6365 (1024x768)

Solanum linearifolium Kangaroo apple

 

 

 

 

 

 

IMG_6360 (1024x768)

Ranunculus lappaceus

 

IMG_6330 (1024x768)

Chrysocephalum apiculatum

 

IMG_6344 (1024x768)

Xerochrysum bracteatum

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

IMG_6351 (768x1024)

Ammobium alalum

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

IMG_6382 (1024x841)

Bulbine bulbosa

IMG_6357 (1024x768)

Derwentia perfoliata

 

 

 

 

 

 

and my all time favourite is this tiny flower, perfect in every way!

IMG_6377 (1024x768)

Dianella revoluta

The frosty hollow area has species that need frost and cold air ..a favourite tree of mine is the snow gum (Eucalypt)

IMG_6473 (1024x675)

There is a small wetland for the plants suitable for this type of habitat.

IMG_6474 (1024x667)

This attractive rock amphitheatre has been constructed to use as an educational space. Over time the plan is to have regular groups of students to learn about the plants native to this area.

IMG_6496 (1024x768)

The Arboretum provides water tanks for STEP, and these are used to irrigate the fledging trees and shrubs.

IMG_6502 (1024x547)

Here is one of the dedicated volunteers watering the plants, the netting over his hat is a most efficient way of keeping the annoying flies away from his face (a sure sign summer is on the way).

IMG_6340 (1024x768)

The volunteers working on the STEP program are an inspiration. They are full of enthusiasm and very knowledgeable about all the plants that they see growing and developing every week.

IMG_6419 (1024x707)

When we arrived they were just packing up after a shared morning tea under the gum trees. What better way to spend a lovely warm spring day, being productive and useful and sharing that with like-minded people.

 

STEP is having an open afternoon with volunteers to show visitors around STEP and answer any questions about growing native plants in Canberra on Sunday 29th November between 12.30 – 3.00.

www.STEP.asn.au