Restoration

A lot of our gardening has been cutting, slashing, pruning, removing and generally discovering the structure of the garden underneath the growth. Thoughts of creating rather than destroying garden areas are always on our mind, but where to start and what to do??? One area in particular had always puzzled us. It had some lovely trees – maples in particular – but was very overgrown with a decaying tree trunk path and some small box in a seemingly random pattern. One summer evening, as we were pushing through trees and trying not to trip over wood stumps, it dawned on us. The box was defining two heart shaped gardens, both completely over-run with my nemesis, strappy plants (please read that in your best horror movie narrators voice.  They are a native Iris of some sort, quite pretty in their own right, but so very very invasive).

These photos are *not quite* before.  We had already removed a lot of the strappy plants, and removed a number of self seeded trees



Suddenly I could see it. I knew what I wanted to do. A wide path, bordered on one side by the box of the heart shaped garden and the other side by a camellia hedge. The heart garden redefined, clipped and filled with windflowers for late summer colour. A small stone retaining wall built with stones from the property. Some stone steps leading down to a narrow path to draw you into the camellia grove. The wide path continuing past the gardens and up into the shady birch forest. A place to rest and gaze at the wonderful scotch elm. Well, we haven’t quite got that far as yet, but we have created the path, wall and planted the heart garden out with windflowers. I can’t wait to see the rest of it emerge.

A walk in the woods

Kibbenjelok is 130 acres in total, with a mix of old apple orchards, the ornamental gardens, blackwood plantation and some remnant bush.  I love the wilder parts – moss covered logs, tiny waterfalls and giant fern ringed fairy glades.  It’s a bit of a scramble at the moment, with our usual wandering route going straight over a cliff. We dream of cutting paths so we can continue to enjoy it in our old age.  It’s  a bit messy, but hopefully you can ignore those bits and see the potential that we do.

 

Spring

Spring is most definitely here and a beautiful warm day inspired me to get out into the garden with camera in hand.  There is still so much to do to bring the garden back to its former glory (so excuse the messy bits!)  but there is already a lot to enjoy.  The little bird is an olive whistler.  We have a couple living in the garden at the moment.  They have a very loud call so we’ll often hear them but only catch a glimpse of them as they flit through the trees.

 

The secret garden

I’m not very good at posting wider vistas of the garden, I always seem to get lost in the detail and the next plant discovery.  These photos are from what we call “the main garden” which is the semi-formal-but-quite-wild-quasi-woodland area.  It is shady, cool and sheltered from the wind.  Visitors tend to call it “the secret garden”.  This area was very overgrown when we first moved in – we had no idea that the gravel paths even existed.  We’ve been through twice now with loppers and saws in hand, hardening our hearts as we pruned pruned pruned to let light and air in.  Our reward has been things flowering this year that didn’t last – the delicate iris, an amazing peony, stunning hellebore.  I’ve got lots more to share from this wonderful part of the garden – my favourite is the weeping scotch elm – in the meantime I hope these photos give you a sense of what it’s like in this little bit of paradise.

Daffodowndilly

She turned to the sunlight And shook her yellow head And whispered to her neighbor: “Winter is dead.”

A.A. Milne, When We Were Very Young

Admittedly, winter feels alive and well the past few days however daffodils bring some cheer. Each of these photos is a different variety of daffodil that we have identified in the Kibbenjelok garden – I can’t name them all, so any help is appreciated! Let me know in the comments if you recognise them.

 

The year my bridge broke

The drive into Kibbenjelok winds around the side of the hill and through the forest, crossing at one point a small, mostly dry creek.  A beautiful timber built bridge is the only way across.  Although covered in moss and obviously quite old, we had faith in the supporting beams that were so big you couldn’t wrap your arms around them.  After all, the bridge had probably been there for 100 years, traversed by cars, trucks, tractors – maybe even horse and cart.  Occasionally we would get out, stamp firmly on the deck, nod wisely and say “it’ll last another 100 years”.  We were so sure of its integrity I didn’t even bother to take a photo – it would still be there tomorrow.

Coming back from town one day, a water truck was stopped at the end of the road.  He was looking for us – a dry summer meant we were running low on water and we had ordered some in.  I directed him up our windy road, giving him a head start to keep out of his dust.  He was soon out of sight.  As we approached the faithful bridge, I slowed, puzzled.  Something didn’t look right.  I pulled up, hopped out and walked up to the bridge.  It was completely snapped in two (ignore the excavator…these photos were taken after we started to fix it)!

Yep.  Definitely something not quite right with the bridge

Yep. Definitely something not quite right with the bridge

The water truck was nowhere to be seen – luckily he had managed to accelerate off the bridge when he heard it cracking leaving himself stranded on the wrong side (he eventually got out through a paddock – lucky it was dry!).  Equally luckily we were able to find a local contractor who, even though he was on holiday in Darwin (it was Christmas after all), lent us his excavator so we could construct a temporary bridge.  After 10 hours of digging and dozing we had a brand new temporary bridge.  We knew we would have to put in a culvert to allow any water that did happen to come down the mostly dry creek to escape.  But hey.  It was summer.  And a dry one.  Surely that could wait a while??

Job well done!  That's keep us going 'til winter

Job well done! That will keep us going ’til winter

Two weeks later Tasmania had the heaviest downpour in 98 years.  It seemed the whole of southern Tasmania was under water.  And our dry creek became a raging torrent.  And that raging torrent washed our new bridge away…….

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The amazing power of a few rain drops

Two bridges in as many weeks.   Right now we still don’t have a bridge – the storms have kept the contractors busy fixing other things.  But that’s OK, as long as it goes in before winter…….

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The sign says it all, really.