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Tasmania – It’s blooming beautiful

With its stunning scenery, wildlife wonders, cultural encounters and gourmet offerings, Tasmania is one of the most popular domestic holiday spots for retirees. Its latest claim to fame is Blooming Tasmania, a nine-month festival attracting garden lovers from all over the world.

Blooming Tasmania runs from September to May and features floral shows, festivals and open gardens to cultural experiences, accommodation deals, fantastic food and energetic walks. The extensive program is compiled by the Blooming Tasmania Association, a group of volunteers passionate about gardening, with great support from tourism and government bodies keen to showcase the state’s diverse horticultural and botanical delights.

According to Blooming Tasmania member Kay Crowden, whose garden Kaydale features in the program, it’s the temperate and diverse climate of Tasmania that produces the beautiful and diverse gardens in the state.

“We aim to promote and educate the world about the diversity and uniqueness of the gardens that abound on this wonderful verdant island,” Kay says. “Blooming Tasmania gives visitors the chance to meet the people behind fascinating garden collections, explore the history of their heritage gardens, be inspired by what can be achieved with natives and take home a living souvenir from a specialist plant nursery.”

Promotion of garden tourism has proven to be a boon for the tourism industry. Through publications, displays at the International Flower and Garden Show in Melbourne and the comprehensive website blooming tasmania.com.au, visitors can plan their garden-based holiday in Tasmania using a wealth of information and fantastic images as a guide.

There’s certainly no arguing the group has taken on new technology to bring the Blooming Tasmania festival to the people. A Facebook page and even an app for smart phones and tablets are all available.

The Tasmanian’s love of gardening started when the first settlers arrived. The cool climatic conditions were ideally suited to the new plant species they introduced and gardening was a way they could tame the rugged surrounds of their new homes and provide some relief from home-sickness.

Many of the gardens open throughout Tasmania are of major historical significance. The world-heritage listed Brickendon in the north of the state reflects the foresight of the early settlers with 180-year-old exotic and European trees surrounding planting of shrubs, roses, perennials and grasses. Sitting within this landscape is a stunning Georgian home. Nearby is Woolmers Estate, which offers guided tours through the homestead and entry to the National Rose Garden which showcases more than 5,500 roses. In the South, the Royal Tasmanian Botanical Gardens in Hobart houses an historical collection of plants and significant trees dating back from the nineteenth century. It also has a conservation collection and the world’s only Subantartic Plant House.

KAYDALE LODGE GARDENS

Nestled in the folds of Northwest Tasmania’s wild landscape rests Kaydale Lodge Gardens, 30kms inland from Ulverstone.

Kay and her husband Robert, together with their daughters Amarlie & Lesley, have created an amazing cool climate garden which features mass displays of unusual bulbs, rarely seen in Australia, throughout spring. The Fritillaria meadow with over 5,500 nodding purple and white chequered flowers will take your breath away and the wonderful drifts of rare trilliums and Erythronium ensures a visit to remember. Every year the garden grows and expands, transforming it to showcase a wide range of their favorite plants that truly highlight all the four seasons. The family has worked hard to bring new projects such as amazing stonewalls and paths to fruition, using the stone to tie together other unique features such as woodland ponds, streams, waterfalls, a dry Zen garden and extensive rockeries.

Kaydale Pavilion“The Fritillaria meadow with over 5,500 nodding purple and white chequered flowers will take your breath away…”

Being a farmer, Robert loves his vegetable garden but to encourage him to grow smaller, regular crops the girls have laid out a formal pattern with stone paths between the beds for ease of maintenance. Being a cool climate garden it abounds with vegetables such as potatoes, brassicas, unusual lettuces, onions, beans plus all the summer fruits such as strawberries, gooseberries and blueberries. All are harvested by Lesley turned into ice cream, syrups, jams, jellies, sauces and chutneys which are all used in the lodge dining room.

Having a large country garden next to the Leven Canyon reserve which is over 5,000 acres means there is a constant supply of wildlife, so the Crowdens have planted varieties the visiting wallabies aren’t keen to add to their diets. Generally from mid-November to Christmas masses of peonies are in flower especially around the Wisteria Pavilion.

For over 32 years Kay has nurtured the woodland garden and each autumn it transforms into a vibrant kaleidoscope of reds, orange and gold that is truly breathtaking. Between the trunks of the mature maples a stream winds it’s way through a carpet of cyclamen and drops into the woodland pond, which calmly reflects the vibrant colour of the trees.

Kay’s support of Blooming Tasmania and gardening cannot be faulted. “It is a joy to watch not only the gardens distinct seasonal characteristics as they move through their annual cycle, but also the effects of this phenomenon on the broader landscape and the Tasmanian lifestyle,” she says.

VILLARETT GARDENS

Villarett Gardens pictured above is the result of the overwhelming passion of two dedicated gardeners Graeme and Linda Chugg, who over 31 years have created this sophisticated, stylish contemporary garden.

Beginning on the side of a hill with just a few mature holly, beech and oak trees, they have, with skill, hard work and devotion, developed a garden of rare beauty. The magnificent use of hedges and innovative planting combined with modern sculpture has created a garden where architectural space is used to striking effect.

Despite the physical and mental demands of running a highly successful restaurant, Graeme and Linda keep the garden to a degree of manicured perfection that is truly amazing. Linda enjoys trimming the hedges as her way of relaxing after a hectic days work while Graeme has produced all the garden’s creative sculptures.

Villaret Gardens well deserves its reputation as one of Tasmania’s iconic gardens.

Ideal to visit for a delicious meal, function, wedding or stay the night in their delightful Guest Cottage.

Kaydale Veg gardenHow to Get To Tasmania

Tasmania has four domestic airports: Hobart Airport in the south, Launceston, Devonport and Wynyard Airports in the north. Flying time direct from Melbourne is one hour 10 minutes and from Sydney one hour 50 minutes.

There are two passenger and vehicular ferries travelling to and from Tasmania. Spirit of Tasmania I and II depart Melbourne nightly taking approximately 10 hours to reach Devonport.

A number of luxury cruise ships from around the world make Tasmania one of their destinations, with Hobart as the primary port.