RTBG Thursday 28 February 2020

I knew I had personal jobs to do at the Royal Tasmanian Botanical Gardens (RTBG) not just volunteering in the Food Garden: Once there I purchased a tiny tubed Chinese paper bush (Edgeworthia) for a friend (long term blog readers might recall their wonderful winter golden orbs)

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and I visited the plant nursery to find out whether spring bulbs will be sold to the public this year – and found it is most unlikely they will do so.

Once at the Food Garden I could see D and T harvesting vegetables for charity, and N was weeding through the slope of golden marjoram and smartening up that area beautifully.

The small and the large pumpkins seem to have doubled in size since last Thursday.

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When I chatted to Coordinator Adam, clearly N and I would be ‘it’ for the day.  Other volunteers had commitments elsewhere.

I was about to start on rooting out the Medicargo weed from a strip of golden marjoram (how many times before have I done this!) near the olive trees when Visitor Services Manager Esther arrived with a newbie in tow. P then joined me in trying to extract the appallingly clever Medicargo.  Baptism by fire sort of thing!  Although, all is not as bad as on some occasions. In this current presentation, the weed is clearly identifiable which it isn’t at some other times of the year.

The above photos show the ‘before’ scenario and, alas, I failed to photo the wonderfully cleared edges and thickets.

I asked P whether he was up to digging?  He was positive so I collected forks, buckets, secateurs and a tray and we headed to the horseradish garden bed where R and I had struggled valiantly last week.  P and I set to work digging and eventually we finished clearing the patch and had a good new collection of horseradish roots ready for use.  The leaves we cut and dumped into the compost bin.

During our time working together I learnt that P is a gardening volunteer devotee having volunteered in mainland Botanical Gardens and an overseas Botanical Garden landscape.  Sounds like he will be an asset to the Food Garden.

Time for lunch and the four of us sat and chatted amiably. N spoke of fierce winds expected around 2pm – later we noted the tops of the large trees bending fiercely and we were gusted strongly at ground level. Much much later when the wind had settled and when I walked out from the Gardens, I stepped over vegetative flotsam and jetsam strewn across the walkways.

After lunch Adam and P collected a buggy load of pathway gravel and spread it liberally on much walked on and thinned patches.

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N found tomatoes lurking beneath very expansive and dense tomato bushes and picked them – I helped for a moment or two and tasted some sweet very flavoursome yellow cherry tomatoes.  I went off to clear weeds from the patch next to our lunchtime seating boards where the bandicoot had played with us last week – I was sorry he didn’t show this time.

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Then it was time for me to join Adam in the buggy and travel to the resources area at the pointy end of the Botanical Gardens. I had never walked that far before and was surprised with its similarity to a mini Barwick’s landscaping supplies. Many large bays held wood chips, different types of bark, compost, dying plants/soils in various stages of decomposition, gravels and much more.  Adam got the loader and poured soil onto the buggy.

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With our load we meandered back around the winding paths of the Botanical Gardens. I loved it.  The 5 or 6 hours I spend each week at the Gardens is always totally and tightly focused on the Food Garden and it would be at least a couple of years since I walked around other parts of the large Gardens. Therefore the experience of passing the wonderful eucalypt forests, the ferneries, the Tasmanian garden, the ‘lake’, and much much more was truly delightful.

Once we returned, the buggy was backed across the new plane of grass and up to the new gabion wall in the new area.

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Three shovels were brought around by N but clearly three of us shovelling from a narrow buggy back was never going to work. So I took on an easy job of grabbing a rake and spreading the newly dispersed soil, removing long tendrils of proliferating buffalo grass and digging out the odd unwelcome weed.

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At one end is a humungus tomato bush.

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We chatted a little after I explained I have started another off-campus university unit – Global Food Security. I told how one of the lecturers is a soil scientist and perhaps I will learn more than I expect.

3pm arrived unexpectedly. I gathered my gear including a few freshly picked hazelnuts (with an idea to test our a special dish that I might cook for the forthcoming volunteers’ lunch at my place) and a few (four) striped giant sunflower seeds to plant later this year.

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Instead of walking to the bus I headed to the Botanical Gardens restaurant and met a friend for tea. We didn’t look at the menu because we knew that was all we needed.  More fool us because we didn’t look at the price. Each of us received a normal sized pot of tea with diffuser; my friend with a jug of milk to the side but mine black. How much do you think each cost? $4?  No. $5?  No. $6. No.  What price, you are now screaming? $6.50. We were stunned. Flabbergasted. Next time a glass of red wine will be our order.

Putting that aside, this was another terrific day at RTBG. As I walked below the Government House to the bus stop, three magpies were happily hunting across the dry land and almost invisible at a distance but nearby were a small flock of multi-coloured parrots ( or were they lorikeets?) also foraging on the ground.

Feeling very good as a result of all the experiences during the day.

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