Jennifer StackhouseTasmania’s Wychwood garden: a new beginning

It’s a scary thing to take on a well-known garden. It is even scarier to open it to the public after a major flood event. That what’s happening at Wychwood, Mole Creek, one of Tasmania’s favourite gardens. Earlier this year Melbourne city gardeners David Doukidis and Matt Bendall bought the property from its creators and long-time owners Peter Cooper and Karen Hall.

David Doukidis and Matt Bendall at Wychwood. Photo courtesy Wychwood Garden

David Doukidis and Matt Bendall at Wychwood. Photo courtesy Wychwood Garden

 

David and Matt moved to Wychwood in early winter just in time to witness the deluging rain that washed through northern Tasmania in June. The garden’s creek flooded engulfing much of the lower garden.

The river at Wychwood – before the flood in June 2016. Photo Jennifer Stackhouse

The river at Wychwood – before the flood in June 2016. Photo Jennifer Stackhouse

 

As the water receded they discovered the creek had carved a new course and much of it was blocked with logs.

“We saw first hand what the expression ‘log jam’ meant,”

jokes Matt. Rather than getting stuck into garden beds and plant propagation as planned, they’ve been clearing debris and repairing flood damage. Around a third of the property was inundated by the floodwaters, which also washed away fences and young trees along with some artwork and garden benches.

We’ve literally moved hundreds of wheelbarrow loads of debris and feel like we’ve had a bonfire burning 24/7 since we arrived,” he says, “but we’ve learnt a lot from the floods and know a lot now about respecting the vagaries of nature in the country.

“We were city folk so things that country folk know about we’ve had to learn to do like fencing and dealing with logs. Our neighbours and local gardeners have been wonderful and have really helped us to find our way.”

Despite the baptism by flood Matt and David say winter wasn’t all bad. The garden received several falls of snow, which turned its bare winter bones and clipped evergreen hedges into a winter wonderland.

Waking up to fields sparkling with frost and white snow on the Western Tiers has been inspiring says Matt and the hard physical work is definitely keeping them fit he admits.

Perennials including ‘Ravenswing’ and hostas are appearing in the Wychwood garden with the arrival of spring weather. Photo Jennifer Stackhouse

Perennials including ‘Ravenswing’ and hostas are appearing in the Wychwood garden with the arrival of spring weather. Photo Jennifer Stackhouse

 

The garden covers just over a hectare with rare and heritage apple orchards, roses and perennials and many beautiful cool climate trees. Even without the floods, there’s plenty to be done to keep the garden looking good including mowing, pruning and mulching.

Wychwood's famous labyrinth in autumn. Photo Peter Cooper

Wychwood’s famous labyrinth in autumn. Photo Peter Cooper

 

Spring promise
As the days have been getting longer (but not warmer adds Matt), they’ve been delighted to see how the garden is coming back to life. Matt says:

“Every day brings a new perennial poking through the soil”

One of the features that attracted David and Matt to Wychwood was its nursery. They have big plans to continue to have the nursery open and stocked with rare cool climate plants that they’ve propagated from the garden but they’ll be starting small and later than planned.

As spring arrives the long winter is paying off. Already espalier apples are in bloom along with fritillaries, which are a picture with hellebore in the woodland area at the front of the garden.

Wychwood is renowned for its species and old roses including this beautiful Rosa glauca. Photo Jennifer Stackhouse

Wychwood is renowned for its species and old roses including this beautiful Rosa glauca. Photo Jennifer Stackhouse

 

Details
Wychwood Garden and nursery at 80 Den Road, Mole Creek (near Deloraine in Tasmania) will be open from October 28 every Friday, Saturday, Sunday and Monday from 10am-4pm until the end of April. The garden is also open to groups at other times by appointment. To find out more go to Wychwood Nursery or follow Wychwood on Facebook or Instagram. Entry is $8.00 (adult).

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Jennifer Stackhouse

About Jennifer Stackhouse

Recently Jennifer Stackhouse made the big move from Kurmond in NSW to a Federation house in the little village of Barrington tucked beneath Mt Roland in northwest Tasmania. With high rainfall, rich, red deep soil and a mild climate she reckons she's won the gardening lottery. She's taken on an acre garden that's been lovingly planted and tended for the past 28 years by a pair of keen gardeners so she is discovering a garden full of horticultural treasures. Jennifer is the author of several gardening books including 'Garden', which won a Book Laurel for 2013, as well as ‘The Organic Guide to Edible Gardens’, ‘Planting Techniques’ and ‘My Gardening Year’, which she wrote with her mother Shirley. She was editor of ABC 'Gardening Australia' magazine and now edits the trade journal 'Greenworld' magazine and writes regularly for the Saturday magazine in 'The Mercury'. She is often heard on radio and at garden shows answering garden queries.

6 thoughts on “Tasmania’s Wychwood garden: a new beginning

  1. Margaret Hardy on said:

    Great to hear that the garden has two such enthusiastic new owners. Was always a highlight of my Tassie visits in the past and feared it would be closed after it was sold. Now back on the list for next time! Best wishes!

  2. Yes, keep it on your garden list for Tassie! It is a lovely garden.

  3. Deb on said:

    Great to read this story, thank you for update Jennifer as I loved this garden when visiting Tasie in 2012 and have just finished reading Karen’s book Wychwood.

    Good luck to the guys on their new venture, thrilled to see they are keeping this gem open as I’ll be back when next in Tas.

    • Karen Hall’s book about Wychwood is a great read and a beautiful book. It is called ‘Wychwood’ and is published by Murdoch Books.

  4. Libby cameron on said:

    Thanks for this story, Jennifer. i like others have been wondering about the fate of Wychwood, and it sounds as if it is in great hands, with the boys making it their own. Good luck to them, and I look forward to a visit soon.

  5. William & John on said:

    Well done David and Matt, the garden looks gr8, you have worked hard to get it back to what it was before the floods with the help from your neighbors and family, a lot of work has been done, we are proud of you, good luck for the future you deserve it.
    William & John

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