Our own personal Serendipity

Serendipity is when someone finds something that they weren’t expecting to find.”

or another way of looking at it is that Serendipity is a Happy Accident.

When my father died and we inherited “Highfield Garden’s” it was with a great deal of trepidation that we contemplated moving here. We are, as previously mentioned, penniless student hippies and unlike my siblings, who both work and who also inherited 2 houses each, we were in a different boat. Thanks to our decision to move to the Australian state with the highest unemployment rate we were not able to find unskilled work easily and so decided that we would both take the opportunity to study. My father had generously provided us with a house in the city to live in rent free so we were able to afford to study so long as we lived within our means. We siezed that opportunity with both hands and enrolled to study Certificate II in Horticulture, leading to almost immediate addiction to the plant world and subsequently we completed Certificate III in Horticulture. My father died suddenly and most unexpectedly last July throwing our lives into chaos. We stopped being penniless hippies and gained 2 houses and a small amount of money to enable us to do some much needed work to improve the houses. My relationship with my father had its ups and downs. We tolerated each other would be a more appropriate viewpoint. When we inherited his house I was not sure if we would be able to live here to be honest. My fathers lifestyle was incredibly different to my own and Highfield Gardens had been allowed to degenerate from what was once a magnificent acre of landscaped garden and 3 acres of semi cleared bushland to a weed covered run down property that needed huge amounts of T.L.C. to return it to its former glory. My father was unwilling to put in the effort to do this and left the property to Steve and I knowing that we would at least “clean it up”.

My father was a quintessential Ocker ‘Bloke’. He came from a different generation where men were men and women did what they were told. He was full of colloquialisms like “Stone the crows” and “Stiffen the Bandicoots” and despite his spendthrift ways, could never understand why Steve and I spent both our own time and money on doing up the house that we lived in in town. His prime saying whenever confronted with something new that we had undertaken was “Done ya’ dough”, usually accompanied with a lot of head shaking. When he died, I suspected that he may still be ‘present’ somewhere around making himself felt. We were unable to move out to the property until Early December and I told Steve that if I even felt my father anywhere in the house, that I would not be able to live here. We stepped into the door and there was the distinct feeling of an empty house. My father had gone.

I say that he had gone…but I have my suspicions that he, like El Chupacabra, has taken on another form. My father is buried in the church graveyard right next door to the property. Highfield Gardens was once part of 10 acres of property that surrounded and included the Auld Kirk Church that nestles on the banks of the Tamar River. My fathers headstone was placed on his grave the day before the aniversary of his death and the day after that, a pair of crows moved in to Highfield Gardens. The first thing that the male crow did was carry away a solidified mix of seed and beef dripping (my fathers favourite form of fat…) that I had put out for the birds to feed on,  to consume it whilst watching us on the deck. I was watering the plants on the deck when I heard the crow muttering quite close by and looking up made eye contact with it. We stood there for a few moments and suddenly the crow croaked “Duuuuun….yaaaaaa…dooooouuuuuggghhhh!” and flew off to his partner to finish off his dripping ball. Welcome back dad. If he ever gets close enough to see what we have done inside the house I fear that my washing will never be clean again!

Heres a little glimpse of Highfield Gardens, three years before we moved in to the place. It was still relatively under control and the weeds had not taken hold to the degree that they had when we moved in.

This is the view from our deck in summer at dusk.

and here is another photo of the lovely Tamar River on a misty morning

This is the view from our deck on a lovely warm summers day. As you can see its a beautiful place to live.

Can you see the house in this photo? Its a bit like “Where’s Wally”…(its over to the left hand side of the photo if you cant see it). This photo was taken 3 years before we moved in. The house was in pretty reasonable nick at this stage so you can only begin to imagine the scene when we arrived to move in.

This is the view from the side of the house. We had been caretaking the house while my father was away on holidays and had mown the knee high grass just previous to taking these photos. Incedentally, can anyone tell me why photos ALWAYS look better than the real thing? Pictures taken in summer of this house make it look much better than it actually was/is and I am curious as to why this happens.

This is the first of the garden rooms and is visible from the house and deck. Here, 4 years ago it was quite a lovely spot albeit a little overgrown. When we moved in, you couldn’t see the area in this picture because the honeysuckle vine had grown so massive that it covered the immediate area in front of the camera. We have great foundations to work with, we just have to rediscover all of the forgotten treasures that existed and replant those that didnt make it over the last 20 years of neglect

This is the second of the garden rooms. It leads through the arch to the first garden room area. As you can see it is somewhat overgrown but when we moved in the blackberries had totally taken over somuch so, that we almost contemplated removing the entire hedged area and making it one large garden. I am glad that we didnt. There were some lovely things underneath the blackberries that we are discovering. Its like a mini adventure to someone interested in plants

One very interesting thing that we found out was that we have a microclimate here that allows us to grow plants that would otherwise not be possible to grow in Tasmania. The tree that you can see on the right hand side of this photo is an Angophora costata, otherwise known as a Sydney Redgum. Our Polytechnic lecturers (both from N.S.W.) were amazed to find this speciman and another larger one on our property. We also have some Bracychiton populneus trees, a jacaranda tree and various other warm climate shrubs and trees that really shouldnt have survived here but that seem to be thriving despite the neglect.

This is the view down our driveway. Just over to the right of this stand of trees is the Auld Kirk church, not that it is particularly visible

This is a stand of Melaleuca alternifolia otherwise known as Tea Trees. The oil from these trees is distilled to make Tea Tree oil, a topical treatment for fungal and bacterial skin problems. Our trees are used for privacy and for creating a small forest area at the front of the property. They have been allowed to grow too close together for too many years and need to be thinned out to give them a better chance at individual survival and we use the felled poles for all sorts of things including building a compound around the house when we first got here to keep Emo Dog from roaming. Last month I spent two days whipper snipping the forget-me-nots from underneath these trees. They had been allowed to take over and what used to be a delightful cottage garden plant for me in Western Australia has become a nightmare here. Its the same with most of our weeds…boneseed, ragwort, banana passionfruit, dodder and the ubiquitous blackberry, all very useful plants in their own environment but here in Tasmania they run wild. I must admit to harvesting the blackberries earlier this year and making home made wine out of them but that is another story…


2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. athursdayschild has a long way to go and much to be thankful for.
    Apr 04, 2013 @ 05:56:27

    I feel like a stalker. I had a dream last night that I visited you, but you were really too busy for company. Anyway, I decided to look back into your blog to get a better picture. Oh, and my father was in the dream with me. My father died two years ago, and is buried on our property. I got the property by default. It was too run down for my sister. I started fixing it up even though we were just living here and didn’t really own it. I, too, had an up and down relationship with my dad….I can’t believe I typed that out. It’s just not something I say except to my husband who knows all. Anyway, he critiqued my improvements. One of the first things he said was how foolish it was to put a $400 bathtub in an $800 house. The property only got deeded to me around six years ago, I guess, which worked out for the best. It would have been a mess during my first divorce. Things really just work out in serendipitous order.


    • narf77
      Apr 04, 2013 @ 06:03:30

      Darned right they do…when we moved here I told Steve that if I even FELT dad here I wasn’t going to be able to live here. Dad is buried over the fence in the Auld Kirk Church graveyard but unless he really IS that crow that sits on the branch croaking at me and threatening to “decorate” my washing I haven’t felt his presence here aside from the aniversary of his death on the very first year when I could smell his customary cigarette smoke right where he sat reading his endless reams of books…I think he was saying goodbye. Dad wouldn’t have left me this place if I was still with my first husband as he didn’t like him. I doubt he would have left me this place if I wasn’t married to Steve (who he liked) as I wasn’t his kind of success story ;). I get where you are coming from when you don’t mention your relationship with your dad. I guess we need to remember that whenever we have a difficult (to say the least) relationship with a close family member (read “I can’t move away from you so I am stuck here WITH you and have to learn to find a way to get along with you without killing you”…) it’s a growth opportunity. Much like my newfound love of all slimy decomposing things that come from the roof gutters, I am learning to appreciate the good and forgive, “release” the bad. It isn’t worth me wearing my fathers disapproval on my sleeve for the rest of my life. He didn’t “get” me and that doesn’t matter. I didn’t get HIM either. Sometimes people clash and it’s actually good for us. It builds our characters and shows us what not to be. I forgive you dad…I am not sure that you deserve it, but I do :). Cheers for Serendipity Farm by the way and too bad if you don’t like what we are doing with it! 😉


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