Nomadic Gardening in SEOz

Just back from south east coast trip. Started with finally installing our new community garden at the end of my street. Two years in the making, negotiating stiff-necked opposition from a back-in-the-day big swinging dick, who doesn’t like gardens. Can you believe it? Takes all sorts I guess.

And then local council bureaucracy… OH&S, God I hate that acronym and the appeasement of Mr BSD. But to be fair the council has been supportive in many ways, including putting up some money, and space. So really, thanks guys and the activists of the Hewlett Street Community Garden Group. Love yas.

The Team

The Work







The Garden Beds

Then off to the Byron Hinterland, and our new little bit of paradise, 5 acres of good red volcanic soil. Other than a dozen citrus trees, 2 macadamias, one magnificent pecan, and a few assorted ornamentals, a blank slate. Oh joy.

In the rolling hills, a seed has sprouted.

I’d already planted 20 fruit last April, and rainforest trees, head filled with visions of abundance. Then a few weeks back a phone call tells me cattle broke into the orchard and chewed them fruit trees down. Devastated!

The orchard with naked pecan partially obscuring a macadamia

But when we arrived I found, it being winter, the cattle hadn’t touched the leafless deciduous fruit trees. So a half a dozen that I thought were goners are now sending out little green shoots. Only lost a mango and a lemon. Phew. Made damn sure the fence was fixed.

Walked around, planned…

and dreamed….


and met more of our new community. Went to see the Bentley Effect,

the story of how this community stopped CSG gas drilling on their patch. Planted another 20 fruit trees. Our beautiful neighbour Geoff will continue to water them all, because Man, it so dry up here at the moment. Looks like the rest of the country for once, instead of the usual bright green.

Then a flight down to Tassie with stopover in Melbourne. A chance to visit my favourite public garden in the world, The Royal Botanical Gardens of Victoria, located in Melbourne. I wanted to get a few pics for an upcoming post about the creation of the RBGV. Early Spring, so most of the deciduous trees yet to leaf-burst. But still beautiful. God I love these gardens. The layout…

a natural amphitheatre of glades, vistas, alcoves, passages…

and shrubberies wrapped around a series of ponds that were once a billabong



with a balance of texture, form and colour that make this a masterpiece of landscape composition.

I arrived perhaps a week too early to witness the fresh green splendour of spring’s new deciduous leaf. But the gardens are quivering with the promise of immanent leafburst, tremulous with anticipation. Picked up some ideas and inspiration for my own garden to come, that will of course require translation into the foreign language of the subtropical climate. 

Currently under the stewardship of the multitalented Tim Entwisle, these gardens are a hive of community engagement, scientific and horticultural research that has mostly managed to resist the creeping commercialisation we see in the Sydney RBG. Guess that’s what happens when you put a botanist in charge of botanical gardens instead of a salesman. Checkout Tim’s engaging blog site to see just how much of a Renaissance Man he is.

Anyone in Melbourne should get themselves down to these gardens sometime in spring. And if you’re visiting Melbourne at all, these gardens are a delight and a treasure, not to be missed. And you don’t have to pay to get in. May that never change!

Then, back to the airport and down to my brother’s farm at Lorinna, Tasmania,

to set up another veggie garden.

He’s too busy house-building to have time for gardening.

Snowed on my first day.

In Tassie’s climate shelter is the priority. He’s building a super warm, energy efficient, bushfire-proof straw bail house. Perfect for the challenges of the remote Tasmanian bush. Gardens come later.

He’s got sheep…

That’s an electric utility vehicle. Runs of solar and micro-hydro. He’s off the grid.

and chooks…

and ducks…

So I thought I’d set up his veggie patch for the coming season.

Spent days digging out twitch runners, not the most enjoyable of garden tasks.

It’s done.

Now, I’ve come home. Gone from snowfall on the weekend to 33 degrees here in Sydney today Such is Spring in southeastern Australia!


One Thought on “Nomadic Gardening in SEOz

  1. Stewart Smith on September 19, 2017 at 5:47 am said:

    Great reading your blog Paul. Such contrasts up n down the eastern seaboard. Love your homage to RMBG. And of course your enthusiasm for those 5 red acres. Your bro is setting up for the long run to the judge and very lucky to have your garden skills way down there. Just some hundreds of kilometres north of Invercargill.
    Today in Spreewald near Poland. Flat flat country covered in canals, gardens and beautiful old trees. Tomorrow taking a 4 hr canal trip around the local area. Then Dresden, Nuremberg or Czech Republic. I’m sure Elena will have flipped the coin by breakfast tomorrow. See you when I get back to Oz in November. Stew

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