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 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.
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.
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.
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 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).