Spring flowers at Tulip Top Garden and flooding in Victoria

After a long and isolated two years of Covid, everyone I know is cautiously enjoying a normal life again. However, another hurdle for some states in Australia is the excessive rain we have had this year, and in the last three years.

Every year Canberra has a spring festival called Floriade in September to October. (except for the last two Covid years.)

I wondered if the rain would ever stop long enough for all the bulbs to grow, and the potted flower displays to survive.

Unfortunately Paul and I missed Floriade, but we visited another wonderful flower display, on the outskirts of Canberra called Tulip Top Garden.

The weather was warm, bright and sunny! Oh the joy of it all…

It seemed hard to believe, but for a week or two in early spring we had sunny days and no rain!

We arrived very early and avoided some of the crowds.

As I have often mentioned, Paul and I frequently drive to Melbourne to visit our daughter and the family. In September we planned a trip to Victoria to see them.

The drive from Canberra to Melbourne takes about 8 hours, so we always plan a few stops along the way. Our first coffee break is usually at a Victorian country town called Benalla.

The Art Gallery and café have table and chairs on the deck, to sit and look over the lake. On warm mornings, it is a wonderful spot for coffee, and sometimes scones and cream.

Wrapped around the Art Gallery is a lovely park, and during Covid we sat in the park with our flask of coffee and a sandwich and enjoyed the greenery.

Benalla is the kind of town where the cars wait for a Draught wagon with patience.

One summer as we parked the car near the Gallery and we saw a lovely old fashioned horse drawn draught wagon. The wagon was advertising beer, but the handsome looking Clydesdales stole the show.

We made our trip to Melbourne, and it rained all the way. It was lovely to see our family, and we were able to do all the things we planned, but as the week went by, the rain continued and there was some flooding in Melbourne’s lower lying suburbs.

With so much rain in Victoria last year, all the catchments were completely soaked. Rivers were flooding and lower lying country towns around Victoria began to flood. Many of the farms around these areas lost all their spring crops.

We delayed our trip home, and fortunately the highway re-opened at the end of the weekend. We were able to drive home, but we could not stop at either of our favourite towns, Benalla and our lunchtime stop, Seymour. This is another friendly Victorian town, where the café menus are varied and the food is delicious.

Still smiling: Owners Ray & Freya Grant cleaning up Café 96 Seymour. Photo by Wayne Herring.
Seymour Rotary along with other services, organisations, volunteering at the emergency relief centre. Food is cooked for all who had to evacuate.

This is an aerial photo of Seymour before the flooding, and after ..

An aerial view of Seymour’s oval and surrounds before the floods
An aerial view of Seymour after the floods. Photos by Near Map.

I must add that many parts of New South Wales and Queensland have suffered severe floods during 2022 and all the states affected are struggling to get back to normal.

photo by Jason Edwards (Sun Herald)

Best wishes to all the families who are experiencing flooding this year, and especially to those having to evacuate their homes.

During a few short weeks we went from Tulip Top gardens to serious flooding…. Australia’s weather is either a feast or a famine, and add that to climate change!

Thank you for taking the time to read my post today and may your weather be settled where ever you are in the world.!

Copyright Geraldine Mackey: All Rights Reserved.

Canberra in spring: Tulip Top

Can you believe this stunning property, called Tulip Top, is designed, planted and cared for by two people… Pat and Bill Rhoden.

Twenty years ago, when they lived in Canberra, Pat and Bill had won awards for their suburban garden…so when they retired they decided to find a bigger property and to really indulge their passion for gardening.

They now have a wonderful spring garden on 10 acres (four hectares) just north of Canberra at Sutton.

It seems incredible to me that Pat and Bill manage this property on their own, their son helps with some gardening, and their daughter organises the administration when Tulip Top opens in spring.

They are now 70 years old, and still propagating, pruning, weeding, mowing, sowing, and doing all the other maintenance jobs

……so I can just stop complaining about my knees after a day of gardening!

Twenty years ago they began by planting various trees. To form a canopy for the garden they have English and Chinese elms, conifers (excellent wind breakers) and eucalyptus trees are all in the mix..

Weeping willows give an early spring lace green effect..

The one thousand flowering trees took my breath away…

They have crab-apple, peach, cherry, apricot, quince and plum trees.

A particularly eye-catching tree is the Double Flowering Peach tree..

The Australian Garden History Society has showcased the progress in the garden with photos and articles near the entrance to the gardens..

…here is  a short summary of Pat and Bill’s year of gardening..

The garden is open to the public for four weeks in spring (the last two weeks of September and the first two weeks of October)

In November they lift the bulbs, which are labelled and stored in crates. (500 000 bulbs at last count).

Then two weeks worth of pruning trees..

After a Christmas and holiday break, Pat and Bill begin again in February. They re-shape the beds, add fertilizer, and make sure the PH in the soil is right.

They check bulb catalogues, and trial about 10 to 12 new cultivars each year.

In mid March seedling trays of annuals arrive, including pansies, primulas, and English Daisies, amongst others.

In early autumn the tulips go into cold storage.

Tulip planting begins in May for a six week period….right into our winter, June. As they can’t plant until the soil thaws in the winter mornings, Bill says sometimes they have to work in the dark to make deadlines.

Tulips are planted en masse, with early, mid and late varieties.

Everything is covered in sugar cane mulch…this offers protection against the birds and frost, and saves on watering and keeps the weeds down..

Pat says that World Favourite has always been a good performer for them. In the evening light, the red and yellow tulip looks as there is a light burning inside it.

World Favourite

 

Paul took a photo of this beauty, but unfortunately we don’t know its name…

This lovely apricot coloured tulip is called Actrice

Do you have a favourite tulip?

I just love all red tulips, and they bloom in the most difficult parts of our garden..

Red Apeldoorn

and the white tulips….

One very good reason to plant white tulips in our garden is that cockatoos don’t pick white flowers quite as readily as others (apparently)

…..and if you are looking for some bling, how about this one, aptly named Fabio!

One of the many kind volunteers said that Bill and Pat don’t get much sleep the week or two before opening but they are quoted as saying “just seeing the joy visitors get out of coming to Tulip Tops is the biggest reward for us”

Many thanks to Bill and Pat for a wonderful day..

The gardens are open in the last two weeks of September, and the first two weeks of October. (the beginning of spring in Canberra)