The name of our property here at Newrybar in the Northern Rivers of New South Wales is Heartwood. We arrived here in late May 2018 after an extended delay, in a tearing hurry to get stuff done like most people starting out the tree-change adventure. With rich deep volcanic soil and a moist subtropical climate I believed this to be a gardener’s paradise, and couldn’t wait to get started growing many plants that had long been on my bucket list. First in, even before we arrived here were fruit trees, an orchard. There were already ten mature citrus trees and a magnificent pecan showering down its bounty as we arrived. I began to fill out the rest of the orchard with avacardos, mangoes, tropical stone fruit varieties and other tropical fruits, even before we permanently arrived here. I was in such a hurry to make up for all the lost years. I’d been a gardener for over 40 years, but this was my first real opportunity to create a garden large enough for sustainable self sufficiency.
The name Heartwood dates back to the name of the gardening and landscaping business I established in 1982, named after the street in which I was living at the time. Then it was spelled Hartwood, where a hart is a type of deer. I’ve always been fond of that name. It seemed to resonate with my Celtic ancestry. But with the addition of a simple ‘A’ it came to mean something with a far greater resonance. For me Heartwood refers to both the vegetative and the emotional realms. Heartwood is the wood at the centre of trees that gives timber its great strength and durability, making it useful for so many human purposes. Heart refers to the source of animal vitality. It also refers to the home of human emotional states in so many traditions. All these themes crop up repeatedly in my writing. So with the addition of that single ‘A’ Heartwood seems quite apt for the name of my new home herein Nature.
We have come here in my retirement so that I can grow things to my heart’s content. Myrna continues her psychotherapy practice in between renovating and managing the old farm house and dancing. It is she who has renovated the cold, ugly farmhouse into a home of comfort and joy.
When we first arrived here I had some vague ideas about what I wanted to do on the property, including: growing quality organic produce (vegetables and fruit) for the local community, establishing a beautiful ornamental garden, and possibly re-afforesting some of the property. I wasn’t really sure. I just wanted to grow stuff and create a happy home here. We arrived in the middle of a drought to a house uglier than a sackful of arseholes, browned off weedy paddocks with sagging barbed wire fences and a collapsing tiny shed. On the plus side there was a magnificent pecan tree producing the biggest pecans I’ve ever seen, some healthy, very productive citrus trees and the red gold that is the soil on this plateau. We feel so much gratitude for just being here.