The event that had the greatest impact on the camellia garden in the past year (and will have into the future) was the release of the draft of the Narryna Landscape Master Plan. The objective of the plan is “to recognize and promote Narryna’s 19th century garden as a setting which is sympathetic, compatible and enhances the heritage value of the site.” In regard to the camellia garden, the main recommendations were “that the camellia garden be retained specifically within the area added to the property in 1896.”, that “The camellia garden be dedicated to those varieties of camellias and azaleas that were grown in the 19th century (i.e. progressively remove 20th century varieties).” and that “as camellias were one of the fashionable plants in 19th century colonial gardens, it is recommended that some early cultivars also be grown in the front borders.” The main effect of implementing these recommendations will be the loss of a small area of the existing camellia garden containing four well established camellias which are not 19th century varieties and would have needed to be replaced anyway. Also, of the remaining 82 camellias, only 17 have been identified as being 19th century varieties, leaving 65 (including 22 that are unidentified) that will need to be replaced over time to comply with the landscape master plan.
While we were awaiting the release of the Narryna Landscape Master Plan, regular monthly working bees continued at the garden. Because of the uncertainty about the future of the garden before the plan was released, only basic maintenance such as weeding and feeding was carried out. The only major work done in the garden was to extend the medium grade pine bark mulch so that it now covers about 65% of the camellias in the garden. This year we hope to extend the mulch to cover all of the camellias in the garden.
There was also no great progress made on drawing up a layout of the camellia garden due to the uncertainty surrounding the future of the garden. Work on the layout drawing will now be resumed guided by the knowledge of which parts of the garden will be retained. Work will also be undertaken to identify 19th century camellia cultivars still available in nurseries that could be used to replace the modern cultivars that are in the garden at present. The process of replacing the modern cultivars will be a slow process, carried out over many years, as neither Narryna Heritage Museum nor the Camellia Society Tasmania have funds available to carry out this work on a large scale accelerated basis.
In mean time, the garden is looking very good and we are looking forward to a wonderful display of blooms this season. Hopefully some of the varieties in the garden that have not been positively identified yet will provide good enough blooms to allow them to be positively identified this year.
Joe Neuschwanger, June 2015