It has been nearly five months since we sold up at Kurmond in the lower Blue Mountains west of Sydney and moved to northwest Tasmania to live. It was mid-winter when we arrived and we’ve had all sorts of weather since, so seeing snow on ‘our’ mountain – Mt Roland – this morning shouldn’t have been too much of a surprise.
There was snow on the mountain during winter but I thought that was behind us now. The forecast this weekend did mention snow down to 400m – but a little voice in me said really? Could there be snow here this late in the year? I know it snows on Mt Wellington even in summer… but here? Surely not!
But the forecast was spot on and there it was, a glistening white backdrop to our spring day.
At first I didn’t see the snow as the mountains were wreathed in cloud and we were being pelted with rain, but as the weather cleared there it all was.
I find it just amazing to look across at snow-covered peaks from my own garden and hear black cockatoos. Back in Sydney, with bushfires threatening Katoomba, we’d have been looking at our Blue Mountains through a haze of smoke.
Spring roller coaster
Actually winter here wasn’t too bad at all (especially with the Aga wood stove blazing away in the kitchen), but spring has been a real roller coaster as far as the weather’s concerned.
Despite the mix of wind, rain, sun, hail, sleet, snow (on the mountain anyway) and everything in between, the spring show in the garden hasn’t been curtailed. The season has erupted with a succession of wonderful blooms. Moving into an established cold climate garden in mid winter is an exciting experience. With most of the garden bare, everything lies ahead.
Trees that were bare have now re-leafed and interesting perennials have emerged from the bare soil. The bulbs have been a joy and so too have the blossom trees.
We’ve taken the cautious approach of doing very little other than pruning deadwood, spreading mulch and endlessly removing the weeds. I guess the downside of living on such fertile soil and with good rainfall is the weeds love the environment as much as the desirable garden plants do.
To say there’s always something in flower in this garden is an understatement. There’s always something that’s spectacularly in flower in this garden is a more accurate statement. From the day we arrived and as each week has passed there’s been something to wow me as I explore the garden.
Daffodils, camellias, magnolias, viburnums, banksia rose and flowering cherries have all been a delight. Now the laburnums (we have six trees trained over a wooden archway), rhododendrons and clematis have taken over in the ‘Wow!’ stakes. We are eagerly awaiting the rowan, dogwoods, roses and liliums to do their stuff.
While much of the garden is well stocked with the traditional plants of a cool climate garden, other plantings here are quite unexpected. There are huge waratahs – the NSW waratah (Telopea speciossisima) – that have been in bloom for weeks and weeks. The bushes stand at least 4m high. They are waratahs on steroids!
The flowers started opening in early September (September 11 according to my flowering diary) and they are still going strong in November.
And then there is the fascinating kowhai, a yellow pea-flowered tree from New Zealand. When I say yellow, it is actually almost chartreuse – the same colour as the self-sown euphorbias which are right through the garden. It is a very different yellow from the laburnums, which are growing near by and have taken over as the kowhai has wound down.
It is an old three that grows in the lawn right outside the bay window in the kitchen so it is on display all day. It showed up in photos of the garden taken back in the 1960s or 1970s, so we are guessing it is at least 40 to 50 years old and possibly older.
It began to flower in early September (September 11) and the final flowers fell in late October leaving behind masses of nascent seedpods, which is not surprising as the bees and the honeyeaters have been busy in the tree for weeks.
As it comes into flower this tree drops a lot of its leaves, which worried me a bit when it started happening but it intensifies the floral show and there is new growth appearing now which is reassuring.
Our bluebells have also been very special. Not only have they been in abundance (I have not one but two areas that I’d call a small bluebell wood), but they are mainly the English bluebell (Hyacinthoides non-scripta). As well as blue there are also white, pink and mauve forms.
Finally, a handsome stand of arisaema has appeared in a corner of the garden. I am not sure of the species, but there are lots of leaves on mottled stems and I am sure flowers will soon follow.