Tales of an Intrepid Traveler: Rolf in Tasmania

G'Day Mates,

75 degrees today and Wychwood Garden continues to be beautiful now in the early autumn cycle. My biannual visits to the gardens have always been during the summer so it's delightful to see the brilliant autumn colours, and the Fagus trees are breathtaking! There are numerous roses in the garden and the hips are at their best now. I must find a Rosa Moyesii for their brilliant, elongated hips. Beautiful.

What beauty in the orchard! My presence caused a large flock of loud, screeching white cockatoos to ascend from the trees, which seemed, in turn, to cause all of the kookaburras around the 1.5 hectare garden (about three acres) to go crazy with human-sounding, mocking screeches. The birds of Tasmania are very exotic, colourful and prolific and just one of the many reasons I love this part of the world so much. I love the bright blue wrens, the parrots, the bungees...

There or over thirty varieties of heritage apples in the orchard and I picked a couple of varieties yesterday afternoon - Red Scarlet Staymered and Opalescent - to make a crumble last evening with apples, blueberries, quince jam and a tasty crust of oats, nuts and cinnamon. The espalier on the pottage fence is Cat's Head which we'll make cider out of next week.

There isn't a night that goes by that I don't hear the thumping of a kangaroo or a wallaby hopping through the garden, munching on the grass. Oddly enough they never seem to go for any of the profuse number of perennials in the garden! Of course the orchard is fenced in higher than the gardens so they can't destroy the apple harvest, but the sheep in the paddock next to the pottage often stand by the fence bleating for an apple to be thrown at them.

I have to constantly keep my eyes open for snakes as we saw a tiger snake a couple of days ago. It must always be on your mind to keep an eye out as Tasmania has three of the most venomous snakes in the world (tiger, white-lipped or whip, and lowland copperhead). Luckily, they are generally reclusive and no one has been bitten for years but you hear of an occasional dog succumbing to the venom. The tiger snake is black, about 6 feet long and about 3 inches in diameter. The whip snake is much smaller and I have seen them hanging in trees waiting for a bird. The snakes become more active in the autumn as they are cold-blooded and getting ready to hibernate, thus need to feed.

Last night during the evening stroll up the track (road) overlooking the beautiful farmland, I commented to Peter to look at the moon as I thought it had a beautiful colour and he looked at me and laughed and reminded me that even though I've been coming here for 20 years, I always am amazed at the clean air and bright nights filled with a profusion of Southern Hemisphere stars. Tasmania has the cleanest air in the world as the winds come predominately for Antarctica with no obstructions.

Off to capture a picture of a red flowering gum and other native plants and to try to see the platypus in the creek at the end of the garden. More to come!

˜ Rolf

All uncredited photos from: http://wychwoodtasmania.com/