The road to “Forest Home” was two kilometres of long, very rough gravel and travelled through stately, stringy bark eucalyptus bush. Passing two shanty “picket” [pickers’] huts, it finally finished its bumpy journey at the house which sat quietly slumbering, surrounded by apple trees. The two small gardens in the front and the back of the house were completely covered in Oxalis and the rose bushes in these gardens looked very sad with their burden of carrying so much mildew and black spot. Down the side of the verandah was a brilliant planting of manferns and these hosted three other forms of bush ferns.
The cottage garden boasted an old picket fence around one and a half of the four sides, the rest of the garden was enclosed with iron uprights and chicken wire and even barbed wire had been used in some parts to help keep the rabbits out. Beyond a delightful but decrepit garden gate stood two Rhododendron bushes. One of these was huge and healthy [“White Pearl” or “Pink Pearl”] and the other was a large and sick looking Rododendron “Sir Robert Peel” and I noted these with some interest as I hoped to grow specie Rhododendrons in my dream garden. Another plus was the absence of thrip and it was not hard to reason why; hopping busily and chirruping incessantly to one another were dozens of blue fairy wrens, the husbands with peacock blue chests and the dowdier but plump wives equally vocal in their courtship. Everything under foot was wet, wet, wet. (more…)