Gardening with George on Norfolk Island

Hello garden lovers and greetings from Norfolk Island.

In my role as president of The Garden Clubs of Australia I have been ‘gadding about’ the country quite a bit of late and was invited over to Norfolk Island to asses it’s suitability for hosting a GCA Convention in 2019.

My visit was hosted by the local garden club and travel centre, who put together a very full itinerary with numerous meetings, garden visits and sight-seeing tours.

Also included were superb cooked breakfasts, yummy lunches and delicious dinners, not to mention the Devonshire teas, cakes and slices!

Norfolk Island is only 8km long by 5km wide and sits approximately 1400km off the Australian mainland in the Pacific Ocean.

It has a mild subtropical climate with temperatures sitting between 10°c and 26°c year-round – perfect for gardeners!

Average annual rainfall is about 50 inches but, like us of late, they experienced a very dry summer and with only tanks and minimal bore water, the gardens suffered.

The gardens I visited ranged from subtropical paradises, complete with a kaleidoscopic collection of plants, to lush green spaces filled with ferns and foliage, to productive market gardens, growing the fruit and vegetables for the islands consumption.

Stunning hibiscus, bougainvillea and frangipani flowers feature across the island, plus many bright foliage plants such as crotons, acalyphas and cordylines.

I was given a tour of the Norfolk Island National Park, home to many of the islands endemic plants including the Norfolk Island palm, the smooth tree-fern (the tallest tree-fern in the world) and of course the iconic Norfolk Island pine tree.

A glorious view of the park and the whole island can be seen from its central point Mt Pitt, well worth the hike.

Nearby is the islands botanic garden, with viewing platforms and meandering trails taking you deep into the heart of a fern filled rainforest.

The natural beauty of the island is outstanding, with viewing areas situated to take advantage of the rugged coastline and a special treat is the sunset from Puppy’s Point.

The island also boasts an impressive collection of birdlife including the endangered green parrot.

Norfolk Island is steeped in layers of history from the early Polynesian settlers, to Captain Cook’s landing in 1774, the infamous convict penal settlement of the 19th century, to the arrival of the Pitcairn Islanders in 1856, descendants of the HMS Bounty mutineers.

Kingston, the capital, has many fine Georgian buildings, convict ruins, museums and historic cemetery.

Four days was not enough – I’ll be back!

Happy gardening,

George Hoad

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