Gardening with George

Tasmania is commonly known as the ‘Apple Isle’ but following my recent trip down south, I will forever remember it as the ‘Golden Isle’.

The roadsides, gullies and mountainsides were glowing with our national flower, the Golden Wattle.

Added to this the gardens, parks and fields were carpeted with ‘a host of golden daffodils’, to quote William Wordsworth.

Related: George will host a high tea in his Killabakh garden as part of National Gardening Week

Blooming in every hue of yellow, variety and combination, they made an impressive sight against the lush green lawns and countryside.

I was in Tasmania, visiting garden clubs in the north-east corner, giving talks and presentations in my role as president of the Garden Clubs of Australia and naturally, I couldn’t help but throw in a song or two! I was warmly welcomed by the club members and enjoyed many a delicious morning and afternoon tea, meeting in local halls, parks and private gardens. One particularly lovely garden, way up in the hills, was owned by a lady who also cares for rescued wildlife. I had the thrill of holding Ollie, a baby wombat whose mother had been killed on the road.

I was also down south to attend Blooming Tasmania’s Flower and Garden Festival, held in the Albert Hall in Launceston. I spoke at the opening gala cocktail party and caught up with ABC’s Tino Carnevale and Jennifer Stackhouse, plus a host of other interesting people from the world of gardening and horticulture. The festival was packed with floral exhibits, stalls, guest speakers and a few show gardens. A highlight was a chat live on ABC radio with gardening legend Peter Cundall, which concluded with the two of us singing ‘April Showers’ – yes, it was raining outside!

Tasmanian gardens were waking from a particularly long and cold winter but the kaleidoscope of colours on display did not disappoint. The camellias, azaleas and rhododendrons were dazzling in combination with the magnolias and prunus – a sea of pinks and purples. The spring bulbs and massed annuals lit up the garden beds. Not all the colour came from the flowers, at Cataract Gorge the gardens were enlivened by an impressive family of peacocks, displaying their magnificent tails and trying to steal your afternoon tea!

My week also included trips to historic villages such as Evandale and houses such as Clarendon. All in all, a week to remember and a place well worth a revisit.

Happy gardening, George

George is the president of the Gardening Clubs of Australia