Sunday, October 26, 2008

A Gardener Goes Away (3): The Garden at Corynnia Station

The garden at Corynnia Station is mainly the work of Julie Armstrong. When she and her husband Bruce moved to the property, the 'home paddock' was a soul-destroying, dusty mess of superannuated equipment. Only a stand of pines and some peppercorn trees had withstood the neglect of the previous tenants. Now, there is a peaceful, green stroll garden that provides a pleasant backdrop to the 1940s farmhouse, and a contrast to the red soil and heat of the paddocks.

Tough ground covers add interest to the root zone of the established trees seen at right in the photo above. Euphorbia wulfenii at the back, with low-growing Wormwood and Forget-Me-Nots in front:

A Native Frangipani (Hymenosporum flavum) in full bloom both tones with the citrus and draws us beyond the household orchard:

I kept stopping to look at the beauties of individual plants. (Can anyone identify this one for me?)

Julie's eye for colour extends to the house as well. Now go back to the top photo and look at it more carefully...

At the front of the house, Julie has built this formal Round Garden. The terracotta statue set amid its green garden is a softer, gentler evocation of the red soil that surrounds the whole.

More photos of the garden may be seen at Outback Beds' page about Corynnia Station.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

A Gardener Goes Away (2)

South-western NSW is flat and red.

Trees are found near watercourses. Most of the other land was cleared for grazing. Previously, there would have been a sparse covering of small trees and tough shrubs.

Nowadays, much of the agricultural prosperity of the western slopes and plains derives from irrigation.

The use of laser-graders has vastly improved the use and reuse of water.

I still have mixed feelings about irrigation per se, but with only normal rainfall, this garden would not be possible...

Thursday, October 23, 2008

A Gardener Goes Away (1)

I am sorry for the slight delay in telling you about our holiday trip. We have had a couple of computer problems which prevented me from accessing our holiday photos for a while. At least I have had a chance to plant up all my punnets for hot-weather vegetables, and some have even started to come up!

From Sydney, we went west over the Blue Mountains and across the beautiful Central West, with its rich farmland and lovely old towns. We were nearly to Parkes when we first noticed a recurring motif of our trip: sheep grazing in what appeared to be a recently-ploughed field with sparse greenery in it. Dear readers, that's what happens when rain doesn't arrive on your wheatfield at the right time. It's happening all across south-western New South Wales, and has been for the last eight years. The price of bread will not be going down any time soon!

Again when we were nearly to Parkes, we saw signs indicating the presence of Chilean Needle Grass. I assume this is the same "Spanish Needle Grass" that Mary found in her dress in Little Town on the Prairie, and which Pa says is so dangerous to stock. Fortunately, while this nasty plant is considered a Weed of National Significance, we only saw a few signs about it.

There is one major tourist attraction at Parkes, and we visited it the next morning:

We were lucky enough to have picked a day of calibration testing, so the Dish was very active! Then off we went on the 350-km trip to our first farmstay. Forbes for lunch, West Wyalong for afternoon tea, a comfort stop at Rankins Springs. Finally, we reached it:

As we stepped out of the car and stretched, a beautiful kelpie bounded up to make friends. And what does a tired three-year-old do when he sees a strange dog? Throws up his arms, screams, and starts running. And what does the friendly kelpie think? Time to play Chasings! The Geek managed to contain his laughter and catch the Sprig, but the damage was done: the Sprig spent most of his time at Corynnia Station in the Geek's arms, and cried whenever he saw a kelpie. He was not even too keen about the fat little puppies that we met later! On the other hand, the Twig loved Wal and the other dogs -- a new departure for him, as he's never been comfortable around dogs either. I am not sure whether it is maturity, or whether farm dogs are so much better trained than pet dogs (and make no mistake about it, they are better trained).

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Off on Holiday

We are heading off today on a ten-day holiday to visit the Geek's relatives in Mildura, in Victoria. Mildura is about 1000 km away so we are taking it easy: Parkes today, Goolgowi tomorrow, reaching Mildura on Friday. The return trip will be via Griffith and Canberra so we can visit some friends who have recently moved there. I am looking forward to showing more of our state to the boys and seeing Far Western NSW myself. I have never travelled west of Deniliquin on land and have only set foot in Victoria twice.

Some months ago The Sprig became particularly keen on farms. I would be pulling out of the driveway and he'd ask, "We go to the farm today?" Er, no; we're going to the shops! I have arranged two farmstays en route and I know he'll be thrilled. Our visit to the Parkes Radiotelescope tomorrow is of special interest to The Twig, who loves the movie The Dish and is proud that his Grandpa worked on some of the Dish's electronics.

The only bad aspect of going on holiday in Spring is that we are going to miss so many interesting things in the garden. Out the front, my 'Grandmere Jenny'rose is showing colour on seven plump buds, and the Naked Ladies have started to open. We will probably miss the latter altogether and while the rose will flower all summer, I'm sorry to miss the first flush. The sweet peas have barely started to flower. With 35 C forecast for Thursday and Friday, I don't expect our Spring blooms to last long! Nor am I sure about the survival of all the vegetable seedlings I have planted in the last two days. Fortunately, it is a watering day today. The weeper hoses went on straight after I woke up and I will turn them off when I leave.

In the vegetable patch, we have only harvested a handful of asparagus spears, so the plant will be covered in foliage when we come back. And I do love asparagus, especially cheap asparagus! We ate what we had of it in a vegetable frittata last night, with a side dish of young home-grown broad beans. If we're lucky, the remaining broad beans will be mature, not rotting on the ground, when we come back. There are two lovely-looking bulbs of Florence Fennel. The other winter plants have started to bolt as it was so hot on Sunday. And half the bumper crop of lemons is rotting under the tree. I have had very little chance to cook with them.

Worst of all, I haven't been able to start any new vegetable seeds for a while. That means a delay in my main tomato crop, among other things. There will be frenzied activity among the punnets when I return!