I think I watched every episode of Gardening Australia while Peter Cundall was on it and I came to really like that pom enough to almost accept his advice. What I like most about him still is his determination to stop woodchipping Tasmania's old growth forests and to stand up and be arrested, at 82, for the cause. He also single-handedly brought organics into the homes of every Australian TV gardener, making purchasers of chemicals quiver in their boots, with his outspoken criticism of chemical agriculture and horticulture.
Yesterday I visited the Royal Tasmanian Botanic Gardens, where Pete's Patch from Scratch began. Cleverly, placing this in a botanic gardens gives it credibility somehow and also ensures that it continues to inspire people long after Peter has left Gardening Australia and hopefully long after Gardening Australia has finished too. I knew I was approaching "his" vegetable garden because the use of vegetables as garden features seemed to have leaked out and spread into surrounding garden areas, as good ideas are wont to do. In this photo, left, of the conservatory garden, a narrow, stone wall raised bed is filled with silver beet (foreground) and each corner of the square is punctuated with a teepee of scarlet runner beans in their full flowering glory. Herbs and more vegetables form 90% of this entire beautiful garden, including the centrepieces of the 4 lawns filled with sweetcorn and rainbow chard (right).
The vegetable garden was of course lovely but what I loved most was the ecology of it all.... like I am always going on about.... surround your vegetables and fruit with herbs and flowers and native plants and you will gain on every level.... few pests, more variety to pick, whether food or flowers, and the sheer joy of seeing such abundance flourish so effortlessly as a result. And the earth will gain too, in too many ways to go into again here. There were bees and butterflies and birds and all things wise and wonderful in this beautiful border of herbs and perennials which formed the backdrop of the vegetable garden.
At the very back you can just see a corner of a massive, old, brick wall which provides a much needed warmer microclimate for some of the fruit trees which are thriving here in less than ordinarily ideal conditions. There are citrus and tamarillos and passionfruit to name a few.
Scarlet runner beans grow to enormous heights here, as you can see in this photo and beans in general seem to produce incredible crops right through summer.
In the glass house were some tropical herbs like lemongrass.
All in all it was a wonderful, lush, productive garden full to overflowing with fruit and vegetables, all grown without chemicals of any sort.
"I guess that's your bloomin' lot".... as Peter would say .... "but you'll be absolutely blown away by the rest of the Botanic Garden that I will write about soon."
I will upload some more photos here soon. In the meantime, you can read about this beautiful garden here.