Friday 23 January 2009

Mt Tomah Botanic Gardens

We spent a couple of days in the Blue Mountains, outside Sydney, with my grandfather and aunt. Not having been there in almost 3 years, we were very keen to see how their garden had come on - Paul had left a couple of oak saplings that are now a good 4' tall.

The basalt soil (it's all old volcanoes around there) and elevation has made it the perfect place for a cool-climate botanic garden (Sydney's famous botanic garden is lovely - but there are only so many plants that like Sydney harbourside weather and a sandy soil!). So as well as pootling around my grandfather's garden, we also took an outing to Mt Tomah.

I particularly enjoyed the proteacea garden, with lots of fab proteas and waratahs. And a glowing pink pompom tree (Dias Cotinifolia) to make the other South African plants feel right at home.

But there comes a point where you can't walk around looking at plants anymore. Particularly when the sun is quite fierce (which it was, although I got some good foreboding clouds in my pictures). A shady spot and a cup of tea become necessities. And, if possible, a small treat with the cup of tea.
Paul is much more single-minded about his small treats than I am. They begin and end with scones.

He isn't indiscriminate - they have to be good scones. And it has to be a red fruit jam - preferably strawberry but raspberry is tolerated. And of course while clotted cream is the ultimate, properly whipped cream is good too.

The tearoom at Mt Tomah produces a very good scone. Light, fluffy and the right-sized portions of jam and cream.

My custard tart was passable. They called it a Portuguese custard tart, but it lacked the slightly burnt skin that is so appealing on pastel de natas. The custard was a bit too cold, so the taste was a little dulled. Still - lovely afternoon out in a beautiful spot.


Bettina Douglas said...

Lovely photos.

Isn't it amazing how the gardens have grown.

(also how that geology education comes through - you & your aunt see the world with different eyes)

Alicia Foodycat said...

There are basalt columns all over the gardens! Impossible to miss.

NKP said...

That one flower looks like it could eat you! Feed me Seymour...!

Heather said...

I love protea! It's the national flower of South Africa, did you know that? (But why would you?)

I guess it's an Anglo thing, because for me, if it's too hot to walk around looking at plants then it's too hot for tea and scones.

Esi said...

The pictures are making me jealous! Australia is on my "to-go" list.

Alicia Foodycat said...

Natashya - I know proteas are so prehistoric looking.

Heather - Paul is South African, the South African cricket team are the Proteas! Hot tea is very cooling really. It makes you sweat, the sweat evaporates and there you go!

Esi - it is worth a visit!

Bettina Douglas said...

I was last at Mt Tomah in 2003. They have good explanatory notes which tell you where plants originated.
Sometimes they tell you exactly when they were introduced eg camellias came from China via the UK thanks to the Macarthur family.

The historical narrative audio at Mt T features my Dad who was asked to read a part because of his "old fashioned" English voice!

mscrankypants said...

'Pootling' is a lovely word!

I am partial to good scones with jam and cream as well. We used to have wonderful scones at work for morning teas, but the contractor starting putting sugar in the whipped cream. Horrifying in itself and upset the whole balance of the scone and jam. No one would accompany me on my protest though.

Alicia Foodycat said...

Mother - we saw the CD with his commentary on it, but it wasn't the one you could hire to walk around the gardens, so we didn't bother.

Cranky - oh no! No sugar in the cream for the scones!

Sumara said...

Hi there! Thanks for commenting on my blog about the banana cake. :-) I followed your link and here I have discovered you've been out my way just last week. I live in the Hawkesbury area and my wedding was at Mt Tomah, in the formal garden.
What a small world. :-)

We haven't been back there for years, but those scones do look rather tempting...

Alicia Foodycat said...

hi Sumara - thanks for popping by! That's a beautiful spot for a wedding.


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