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Two Native Gardens – 1 Inverawe Gardens, Margate

Callistemons add a splash of Christmas colour at Inverawe Gardens - the birds love them too

The Callistemons were in bloom when I visited this 9.5 ha private garden a couple of weeks ago, feeling rather remiss for having mentioned it in connection with alpine plants when I hadn’t actually seen it.
It does not specialise in Alpine or Subalpine species – i.e. you won’t see any cushion plants, because the region is simply too dry (you need a minimum of 1200 mls. of rainfall for this type of vegetation to flourish and even more for rainforest plants) and it is also too close to the sea. One of the few representative rainforest plants is the Athrotaxis Laxifolia, the one that is a cross between The King Billy Pine and the Pencil Pine. Alas, it sits forlornly in a pot near the entrance, presumably so that it can get the abundant water it needs.

Athrotaxis Laxifolia - the rare cross between King Billy Pine and Pencil Pine

The good thing about this garden is that for the most part it works with nature, rather than trying to grow plants with a high demand for water. Instead, it includes plants from all over Australia which will thrive in these conditions. While this makes for a more colourful display, not many of the plants are endemic to Tasmania. The bright red callistemon for instance, though common on the East Coast of mainland Australia, does not naturally occur in Tasmania, although Tasmania does have two of its own, including a lemon scented one. The birds don’t seem to mind however, regardless of the origin of the plants and they don’t seem to be at all perturbed by visitors wandering around. 

The view from Baudin's Lookout

The Inverawe Gardens have a few other quirks – a pleasant lookout featuring the view Baudin may have seen on coming ashore at what is now North West Bay. There are also artworks and a couple of very odd animated gardeners to be seen and heard. I would have liked to explore some of the walking tracks but the friend who had come with me had “bad knees” and we had to leave rather soon. It is possible to have afternoon tea here too, but since we were there in the middle of a heatwave, we opted for a Valhalla icecream at the neighbouring Margate Train instead.

"Tree Hugger" -There are mixed views about the artwork - some finding it delightful and whimsical while others consider it kitsch. Make up your own mind!

Entry to the Gardens costs $12 for adults ($10 for Concession/Seniors card holders) and $4 for children. It is easily reached from Hobart via the Southern Outlet (A6) or the longer scenic route which follows the coast more closely.