Newsletter #33 – February-March 2017 – Tasmania, Autumn Planting

Tasmania – Feel the serenity

Thank you for all the nice emails after my last newsletter about my sea/tree/E-change to my new home in Tasmania. One of the factors in my decision to migrate south was climate change. And I have to say that the summer we have had in NSW has underlined that I have made the right decision! As well as escaping the summer heat and humidity, there is also the fact that the climate of Tasmania is also warming. My chosen home on the Tasman Peninsula, in the south east, is surrounded by water which moderates the climate of this region, such that winters are nowhere near as severe as in other areas of Tasmania. One wonderful indicator of this is that my beloved tall kangaroo paws absolutely thrive here. Another rather frost sensitive species, the red flowering gum (Corymbia ficifolia), absolutely thrives on the Peninsula and there will definitely be an avenue of these beauties leading to my door.

I’m also thrilled to be doing things with a couple of my Gardening Australia buddies. Tino Carnivale and I had great fun at the annual Koonya Garlic Festival on the Tasman Peninsula in February. Last weekend I had the honour of an invite to the Tasmanian Tomato and Garlic Festival in the north of the state at Selbourne, near Launceston. They do love their garlic here…

I also ran into young Peter Cundall there as he lives in the adjacent Tamar Valley. I have to tell you that Peter is preparing for his 90th birthday celebration at the Royal Botanic Gardens in Hobart on April 2nd, and of course I will be there to cheer him on. This will be filmed by Gardening Australia I believe so you can join the festivities that way if you want to.  Gardening really does keep you young!

Autumn a time for planting

Autumn in Tasmania is proving to be everything I had imagined. Cool, crisp mornings followed by beautiful sunny days (usually anyway) and chilly nights. A definite changing of the seasonal guard so to speak. The pears and apples are ripening and the autumn foliage is starting to colour as well. However, for me it is a time to get planting and I will be putting in some rare Tasmanian gum trees as my first turning of the sod. In particular, the rare Risdon peppermint (Eucalyptus risdonii) will be going in for its stunning blue foliage and compact habit, not to mention that it is disappearing in the wild.

This is a good time to plant spring flowering perennials, like my favourite kangaroo paws. The soil temperature takes a lot longer than the air to cool down, so the root system gets a chance to get well established before winter, and in the case of kanga paws, the plant should develop into a reasonable sized clump and new leaf fans, which each give rise to a flower stem.

If you are feeling inspired to plant then come and see us at the Collector’s Plant Fair at Hawkesbury Race Club near Richmond north west of Sydney on April the 8th and 9th. I’ll have good stocks of my Tall and Tough kangaroo paws available plus my books. For those who can’t make it to the Plant Collectors Fair, we have plenty of stock that can be ordered from our online shop. I am very pleased to tell you that we will be greatly expanding our range of native plants in the online shop in the very near future. Much more about that in our next newsletter.

China here we come – In the Footsteps of the Plant Hunters tour

The tour to China that I am leading from May 24th to the 10th of June is looming large. This is a wonderful journey through Yunnan Province which is the wild home to over 50% of China’s plant species on about 5% of its land area. A true botanical wonderland that abounds with rhododendrons, azaleas, roses, deutzias, primulas and many other familiar names to gardeners around the world. We truly do travel in the footsteps of the early European and American plant hunters! http://www.opulentjourneys.com.au/escorted_rail_journeys/In-the-Footsteps-of-the-Plant-Hunters—Tour-of-Yunnan–China/19/ There are a couple of spots left for this year’s tour so please drop me an email if there is anything you want to know, if you would like to join me in a beautiful botanical journey.