Wychwood and a heartwood spoon

Hi All,

I am officially in love…I am UTTERLY in love. Yesterday my friend in the witness protection and I had a horticultural road trip to visit the utterly bewitching Wychwood gardens before Karen and Peter are able to sell this most magical of gardens to some lucky person with both the money and the eye to be able to appreciate this gem of a property. After my “dei horribilis” on Monday, closely followed by her own dei horribilis on Wednesday when we dropped in to deposit some of our wayward junipers on her doorstep. We both decided that we needed to head off into the horticultural wilderness and Wychwood was the sirens song that lured us out of bed early and pointed in a direction that neither of us points very much. I met her at Exeter, midway between our properties and we continued on in her 4 x 4 which is much more reliable than “ole Bessie” our little workhorse. We took our time enjoying all of the quaint little towns festooned with unusual murals, topiaries; wooden sculptures ANYTHING to drag the tourist dollar up from Hobart and the south where all tourists are avidly pointed by the powers that be. Up north we have some gorgeous country and some really pretty places to visit and I have NO idea why people would go down to the South apart from trekking the last vestiges of gorgeousness in the wet wilderness traced by the Gordon river. Oh… and Mt. Wellington is a bit of alright as well ;). If you want to see real Tasmanians, come up north! They certainly lay it on thick up here…wine, potatoes, onions, hippies (yup…LOTS of hippies…), more potatoes…did I mention potatoes? ;). We trundled around upsetting people driving at breakneck speed in search of a traffic accident while we just sat in the left hand lane doing the equivalent of Steve pootling up the river. We didn’t stay on the highway long because highways are for chumps (and for big trucks and angry road rage ridden drivers…) so we ducked over and wended our merry way on the side roads less travelled and enjoyed the heck out of our trip. We stopped in Deloraine, a mecca for hippies and antiques and after a veggie sausage roll, our friend in the witness protection was ready to continue driving to Mole creek and beyond. Steve had hurriedly scratched down some driving instructions but what use have 2 chattering middle aged women in a large 4 x 4 doing 80km/hour and paying NO attention to the road signs, for instructions? We did what men DON’T do, and we stopped at Mole Creek to ask at the local Information centre (that’s what it’s there for folks! 😉 ) where Wychwood was and were given instructions how to get there by a very nice lady who didn’t mind at ALL that we were lost with no idea where we were…in fact, we kept her in a job in a job stressed market for another day…

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I took a million, squillion and 7 photos of Wychwood so I have had to limit today’s post to a few as we have to put Earl’s walnut draw for the Valentine’s Day spoon in as well so this photo is of the lovely little nursery at Wychwood, full of all sorts of healthy and unusual stock all grown as excess on Wychwood soil for lucky patron’s to purchase and take home to pretend that their gardens are some day going to look like Wychwood 😉

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A really nice idea. Karen and Peter like to pick a selection of the plants in flower and fruit in the garden on any given day, an herbarium for the punters

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As Edina from “Absolutely Fabulous” would say about the Wychwood shop…”Lots of gorgeousness sweetie…lots of little gorgeous things…”

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The garden had splashes of colour all over the place. Nothing gaudy and over the top because Peter told us that he prefers foliage and texture. My sentiments exactly!

After we learned that we only had to go up the road a little ways before finding our destination we trundled off again and suddenly there it was…unmistakable amongst bare fields full of sheep, an oasis of treed greenness that silently beckoned us into its folds. I have to mention here to anyone who has been shirking their “Dear constant reader” duties and not keeping up to speed on Serendipity Farm posts that visiting Wychwood has been a dream of mine for some time now. I have stalked Peter and Karen from afar for years…I follow Karen’s wonderful Wychwood posts on “Garden Drum” a most informative collection of expert writers that document their garden journeys and adventures and I follow her on Facebook as well. To explain Wychwood isn’t easy. In a nutshell it is 2 peoples idyll and passion that bled into a sheep paddock out in the middle of woop-woop miles away from the madding crowd that evolved over a period of almost 20 years to be somewhere that any garden gnome or fairy would lust after calling “home”. 2 ½ acres of gorgeousness to the max and every turn has something special…we were lucky enough to arrive on a less than promising day…no sunny blue skies and lots of prospect of rain and even though we were there for hours (I think I must have been abducted by aliens because it felt like 5 minutes…) only 1 other couple turned up while we were there and left long before we did. We are both horticulturalists so you can only begin to imagine the “Oohing and AHing” that went on. We were up to our armpits in precious things and everywhere we turned there was something to delight our horticultural senses. So many beautiful things and a mind full of possibilities…round buxus balls festooned their merry bumbling way across a lawned area reminding me of hedgehogs on their way to a saucer of water…Our friend got VERY excited…”I have just plonked buxus down in the sand! One day, when I have filled in the gaps it might look like this!”…delight, excitement, overwhelming prospects of reward at the end of the tunnel and we were gone…wandering aimlessly taking photo after photo and being constantly reminded of the possibilities that result from someone’s willingness to “Have a bash” and get stuck in and effect change on this sort of scale. These people are collectors…I was amused when I asked Peter what a certain species of Viburnum was that he had in the garden and he told me that it was called Viburnum rhytidophyllum. I then proceeded to tell him that I had found this very viburnum deep in the undergrowth of the jungle that we call Serendipity Farm. He was suddenly very interested and asked me where this plant had been sourced. I told him that the elderly lady, who had owned this property, prior to my father, had planted all sorts of things and some of them were still alive. He told me to ask her where she had bought this shrub from because by the sounds of it, it isn’t a very common shrub in Tasmania. Ida… you were indeed a plants woman :o)

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With the shop over to the left of this photo the exit into the garden has this lovely staged border of colour, texture and foliage height

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Borders are the name of the day on Wychwood as are the use of grasses and medium shrubs and trees to give interest to each garden bed. Note the Gunnera manicata’s HUGE leaves looking for all the world like enormous rhubarb

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To the left note the clever use of Rugosa roses acting as a hedge between one garden area and another and more massed planting and staggered borders to the right

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The garden is full of little pathways like this, leading you around corners in search of the elusive secret garden behind those shrubs

Karen and Peter have made the most of this amazing space and have carefully and lovingly created a slow evolutionary march of vegetation from their initial deciduous tree plantings, lots of birches, an interesting beech, Linden and various maples to the inbetweeners…the cornus and the well placed Sambucus in all of their glorious varieties and forms providing shade, flowers and fruit for the birds, bees and butterflies that were staggering lustily whilst twittering, buzzing and flittering around respectively. A most scrumptious ornamental Japanese grape vine (Vitis coignetiae) meandered all over the small but well stocked nursery a study in gorgeous green that we were assured by Peter, was not only difficult to propagate but that rewarded the autumn spectator with a show of vibrant red magnificence. There was a chook yard with hens protesting their incarceration along with a high hedged orchard that contained a single short fat pair of gorgeous ducks and a “Cranky Goose” signposted and warned and no indemnity taken…I am used to geese. My mother once kept a flock of 50 of them and I know what geese are like. This one was timid compared to mum’s geese and our friend in the witness protection wouldn’t even go near it and stayed outside the lovely wrought iron gate with her mobile camera switched on in hope that the goose would attack thus giving her fodder to amuse her friends…I gracefully emerged unscathed (to her disappointment I might add…) but well aware that the “Hissing” behind me was indeed a warning of beak-to-pants action should I overstay my welcome…I understand gooseanese implicitly! I will share more of Wychwood in the photos that I add to this post but I am still in a daze of happiness about yesterday and am cram packed full of possibilities. Our friend and I have plans…inscrutable plans for propagating masses of perennials between us so that we can mass plant the back end out of our properties. She is still in the “sheep paddock” stage but we have the benefit of there being some strong plant foundations here on Serendipity Farm but having to pare back the layers of debris and weeds built up over 20 years of neglect to reveal the poor long suffering survivors underneath. We did learn some interesting things from Peter who told us that he never fertilises anything…”nature doesn’t fertilise anything other than dropping leaves on itself so why should we?” He mulches with pea straw etc. for humus but although the soil on the property was sandy and infertile this garden towers majestically out of the hillsides and plonked down on Mole Creek like a little piece of heaven. Wychwood is for sale by the way… Peter said it wouldn’t hurt to mention it in my blog…obviously free publicity with the way that I have been gushing over the place but it truly is a magical garden full of enticing and exciting possibilities. If anyone you know would like to live in “Clean Green” Tasmania, nestled in a basin between 3 mountain ranges with a creek on the side of the property and a garden to die for, do a bit of Google searching and I am sure that you will find a real estate agent that will be more than happy to guide you through the processes of signing your life away…but in the process, gaining a little piece of paradise that I know you won’t find anywhere else :). We exited and drove off twittering with possibilities…

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Occasionally you would see something in the middle of the lawn like this large grass or a series of round topiary buxus like hedgehogs following their mum into the long grass…it was a clever way to separate garden areas and minimise turf, which is incredibly water hungry and prone to insect predation

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The drop dead gorgeous enormous leaves of Vitis coignetiae a Japanese ornamental grape vine with a hint of the colour that the entire vine takes on in autumn. One of the reasons why our friend in the witness protection and I are heading back up mid April this year

We decided on heading up further north to check out a nursery that we had been to a few times over the last few years. Big Pot nursery isn’t a patch on Wychwood nursery but it has 2 things going for it. 1. It is cheap as chips and 2. It has a whole lot more “stuff” than Wychwood. We had purchased some “pretties” from Wychwood. I bought “Rudbeckia triloba”; “Ajuga reptans ‘Jungle Beauty’ and “Monarda didyama” from Wychwood and considered $18 well spent. For an upmarket garden with a twinkle of gorgeousness that would lead a body to believe that there might also be a twinkle of expense involved with their nursery stock the prices were very reasonable and I know that the plants are healthy and vital. Heading over to Big Pot and the stock is somewhat less reliable and more higgledy piggledy in nature but from $2 – $3 for perennials and extremely reasonable prices for deciduous trees (most of the smaller stock was $6) Big Pot nursery is well worth a trip to budget mindful penniless student hippies and the sign saying “Liliums $2 each” had our friend twitching with excitement. I didn’t even look sideways at the gorgeous floral tributes because they do grow on Serendipity Farm…and they are eaten on Serendipity Farm before they are able to thrust out those gorgeous blowsy flowers so lilums and I are not mano-a-mano if you know what I mean. I trundled over and found…”Sophora microphylla (N.Z. Kowhai) a lovely small tree that has lacy leaves (that promise nitrogenous advantages to the soil surrounding its roots); Salvia corrugata with scrumptious deep blue flower spikes; Sisyrinchium striatum (a lovely hardy member of the iris family that has tiny butter yellow stalks of flowers and that is very hardy); Salvia elegans or Pineapple sage with its heady scented leaves and wonderful spikes of red flowers and Eryngium alpinum, a member of the sea holly family that I am going to carpet Serendipity Farm with variations of because it has stood defiant against the advancing hoards and they have found it wanting! A most perfect plant for Serendipity Farm ;). Our friend in the witness protection also broke a piece from her pot of Ajuga reptans ‘Catlins Giant’ that was heading off in another direction and that had adventitious roots and gave it to me to pot up and coax into fruition for our garden. We will both be collecting fennel seed (Foeniculum vulgare) and Queen Anne’s lace seed (Daucus carota) from weedy specimens in ditches over the coming few weeks as the seed heads ripen and will be interspersing the resulting plants with garlic…Wychwood had a lovely patch of mixed fennel and garlic just outside their vegetable garden as a beneficial attractant and a pest deterrent. There is so MUCH to learn about gardening and luckily, the best way to do it is free…watch your garden (such as it is…) wander around it at all times of the day (hint: use a torch at night time…just sayin’…) and just “look”…watch what insects are bumbling around…are there any birds? Lizards? Frogs? Over the coming season watch how the conditions in your garden change as the seasons change and check for windy spots, hot spots, dry spots and shady spots. Learn where the sun is at any given time of the day and learn how much sunlight the objects of your horticultural desire need…just watch, listen and learn from your garden. It has so many lessons to teach you if you will only stop bumbling about yelling and listen to it! (in saying that…I am still in the bumbling stages and most definitely in the yelling stages so perhaps it’s best to do as I say, not as I do for the purposes of this lesson O.K? 😉 )

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 I truely abhor photographs of “me” but in order for you to see this amazing edifice to fatherly love in the form of a kids cubby house that not only has this beautiful garden surrounding it, but it has sleeping accomodation inside and has 2 stories!, I had to post me too.  I appear to have lost one of my eyes and grown the teeth of a donkey in this shot…I scolded our friend in the witness protection for her lack of photographic skills but then I saw the photos that I took of her standing here on her phone and decided not to say anything about her lack of talent 😉 …

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One side of this pathway leads off to a wonderful grass maze that I will share with you in future posts and the right hand side leads off to an orchard…an orchard that apparently contained a very cranky goose…we were warned…but hey? When have I EVER listened to warnings eh?

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2 occupants of the orchard…cranky geese? I think not! These 2 ducks were quite small but incredibly stocky making them emminently squeezable…they obviously knew how cute they were and had suffered several squeezes in the past because as soon as I entered the rusted wrought iron gate into the orchard they hightailed it away from me as fast as those tiny waddling legs would toddle

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“SPOTTED!”…time to make a hasty retreat to the safety of the area directly behind the rusted wrought iron gate and our friend in the witness protection with her camera phone at the ready just in case the goose decided to attack…I had to sternly remind her that “Youtube is a fickle mistress”…

Bugger! I got so excited I put too many words in this post…I hope you are still here with me as I tap out these last few stanzas and tie up the string section for that last great “Huzzah!” Well here we are at the end of the post and most of you could care less about the gardening bit and want to know who won the beautiful Valentine’s Day spoon? Well (drum roll…..) Earl picked…

Congratulations to …..

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The Valentine’s Day spoon is going to Oklahoma :o)

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So to all of you dear constant readers who missed out, it will soon be “Mother’s Day” (well here in Australia it will!) so you will get another chance then :o). Till Wednesday, here is a photo of the spoons to choose from…

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If Little sundog wants to choose which spoon she wants and let me know in the comments section we can tee up how you are going to get your spoon. See you all on Wednesday 🙂