By Beatrice Hawkins
Over the last two months I have done about 4000 kms through some wonderful country from here via Tamworth, Narromine, West Wyalong across the Hay plains to Mildura and then Adelaide.
My family from WA were there for the Australian Age Swimming Championships. A truly wonderful experience to see my 14 year old granddaughter compete. I would love to have followed them to Darwin and seen them compete in the Arafura Games…. A very proud grandma can report that many medals were won there!
From there I went up through Burra to Broken Hill intending to spend half a day and one night there and then go to family between Bourke and Louth for an extended visit to help with the drought feeding.
It rained!! 3 inches!! And all the roads to that area were closed so I had a few very enjoyable days there and in Cobar waiting for roads to become passable.
What a joy to finally arrive on the property with a car covered in red mud and see the paddocks begin to turn green.
By the time I left on the 25th of May what had been windswept red and black desolate, bare paddocks were covered in green feed and white daisies, albeit only short, but the sheep were stronger, the cattle starting to pick up and the goats thriving! The stock had stopped coming to the sound of vehicles and chainsaws so the work load on the family had finally, after many months, eased considerably.
The Darling River once again had a little water in it and the Warrego, and the fish, were running. So instead of drought feeding there was some serious recreational fishing enjoyed.
Enough of a travelogue and now for some of the great garden things I saw along the way.
No doubt the entire area I covered was suffering greatly from the dry conditions and there were very few crops growing or even prepared for sowing but most towns still had water, with few having restrictions, so there was still some beautiful gardens to see.
I stopped and visited nurseries in several towns and would have loved to buy but realised it was futile until we get rain here and water in Leslie Dam. Before I left I covered my vegetable garden in black plastic so that anything that germinated would be killed and it will be ready to plant when we do get rain.
Along with everyone else in town without a water tank, all my garden beds are suffering severely.
In Narromine there were some lovely roses in gardens around town. It is the perfect climate and soil for really spectacular roses and Yates had a large farm there growing rose bushes for sale when I used to live in the area. My father in law loved roses and particularly “Double Delight” and grew them beautifully at the edge of his vegetable garden when he retired to town.
Mildura is an oasis in the desert and the trees and gardens there are a delight. There has been an extensive area of river frontage terraced and landscaped using massed plantings of many varieties of natives. With beautiful mature native trees down the centre of many streets it really is a beautiful city.
Hahndorf was a delight with all the English trees in spectacular autumn colour and leaves blowing down the streets.
In Adelaide after the swimming was over, we went to the 150 year old market area and saw a most wonderful display of hundreds of buckets of assorted flowers. Huge sunflowers, natives, spectacular roses and many I didn’t even recognise. The range and quality of the vegetables on offer also was impressive.
Broken Hill astounded me with spectacular bouganvilleas in profusion, roses in full autumn flush along with lovely frangipani trees in bloom. That was an unexpected delight as I had thought the winters would have been too severe there for them to do so well.
Bourke and Cobar are both really feeling the effect of water restrictions with many mature hedges and shrubs already dead and lawns almost non-existent but once again bouganvilleas provide wonderful splashes of colour in many older gardens.
In the paddocks around Bourke I saw native jonquils in flower. These are something I haven’t encountered before and are really lovely and I would like to try growing them in my garden here.
I would also like to know if anyone can identify them from the picture and tell me their botanical name. They came up very quickly after the rain on the black soil flood plains and were flowering within three weeks.
I’ll keep praying for rain for all the drought affected areas and hope we will all be able to have beautiful spring gardens for the judging in October.
Don’t forget the free information night with Brian Sams on Wednesday night June 26th in the CWA rooms.