Tuesday, 5 November 2013

Armidale Trip - Nov 2013

Armidale was abuzz with not only keen garden appreciators 1-3 November but was also host to the Keep Australia Beautiful NSW Tidy Towns - Sustainable Communities Awards. These awards are now in their 33rd year and recognise groups' and individuals' efforts to protect, preserve and enhance local environments and communities across regional New South Wales. While travelling about the State many of us have seen signs on the outskirts of towns and villages declaring their success as proud recipients of these awards.


With Armidale being the overall award winning town this year and host to almost 250 delegates converging into the city to discuss issues that affect their community, share insights and look at possible solutions among like-minded passionate folk, it was indeed a very busy place to visit for this weekend. (There was a dog show on as well!)

On to the trip: All present and accounted for, the bus set off firstly from Park Beach Plaza with the first pick up and then Boambee Gardens for the remainder and so it was farewell to the Coffs Coast for three days. The Bellinger Valley is looking quite fresh with the recent showers and as always a delight to travel through Bellingen and along Waterfall Way up the mountain to Dorrigo, situated on the Dorrigo Plateau near the New England Escarpment where the dairy and potato industries thrive. This part of Waterfall Way always looks so beautiful - rolling lush hills, with dips and folds, just stunning!




The first stop was at Ebor Falls on the Northern Tablelands for a most welcome morning tea.


Ebor Falls, on the Guy Fawkes River, are north of Cathedral Rocks National Park - the falls themselves were a little low on volume but beautiful nonetheless.










Gardening in the New England is always a challenge with dry/cold winters and warm/moist summers and the last two years have been particularly challenging years for the gardeners in this region. Winter 2012 saw more severe frosts than normal and the unusual blistering heat of last summer also took its toll on trees and plants. The 2013 winter certainly had its moments too with hard frosts and dry weather. This was followed by early good spring weather but bounced back into winter with dreadful frost recently. Most of the gardens visited had tales of what a struggle they have had maintaining their gardens.  Below is a short summary of each of the places visited during the trip.

'Booloominbah' is a grandiose three storey, 45 room country mansion built 1883-85 for Frederick White and family. This building was donated in 1938 by the grandson of Frederick so that it may constitute the basis of the New England University College of Sydney University.

This is now the Administrative Building for the University

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'Trevenna' is the residence of the Vice-Chancellor of the University of New England. This house was built in 1889 for Phillip Wentworth Wright, his wife Eliza Jane and their family as a summer house to escape the heat of Murrundi.




This residence shares the same architect, J Horbury Hunt, as the Anglican Cathedral of St Peters and 'Booloominbah', the Administration Building at the University.

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'A Munday Garden' - a collection of some natives, Liquid Ambers, Claret Ash, Oak, Manchurian pear, Maples, Silk/Fir trees, Crab Apples and Wisteria.




This baby Golden Rain Tree will fill up this area in no time.










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'Elder Villa' has been in the Fittler family for six generations, however this garden is only 10 years old. There is a fairy garden which the owners have dedicated to their 10 grandchildren because of their input into the garden.

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'Hettie's Haven' is a very new garden being less than two years old. There is extensive use of mulch in this garden which is a good frame work to support Hettie's plant choices. 

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'Selwyn Wood' is as the owners describe a 'wild sort of garden', managed partly for birds. More than a hundred bird species have been recorded, with new birds noted every year. 

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'The Garden at Geall' - this former Bank and Manager's residence has a Gaelic name meaning 'promise'. A beautifully restored building with garden choices in keeping with its heritage listing, is a delight.

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Former Literary Institute Uralla, this building is historically associated with the former owner of Saumarez Station, Henry Arding Thomas who generously donated fifty pounds to the people of Uralla to help establish a Literary Institute.

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'Ross Parc' Uralla, this garden has traditional cold climate plantings of Roses, Dogwoods, Snow Pears, Manchurian Pears, Acers, Helibores, Blue Bells, Hippeastrums, Agapanthus and Iris.

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St Peters is the Cathedral of the Diocese of Armidale and is the main Anglican parish church.






 As part of the festival the Cathedral displayed floral arrangements.

This excursion trip was only made possible because of the effort from one person - President Pat - who did all the research, bookings and negotiations etc to enable the smooth running of the trip to Armidale and Uralla. A huge Thank You to Pat.

As you can see from the photos, the gardens themselves are showing the ravages of severe weather, but this is not to be totally unexpected when one takes into account our harsh Australian extremes. Armidale is not unique in its experience of difficult times over the last few years; however credit has to be extended to the gardeners who opened up their 'pride and joy' for others to view, sometimes knowing that their garden was perhaps not as pristine as they would like.

All the photos for this report were supplied by Bob Tarry, a new member of the Coffs Garden Club.  Thank you Bob.

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