Meander Valley Gazette

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The Philpott gardening phenomenon

RuralJoanne Eisemann1 Comment
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FEBRUARY 2018 | Marguerite McNeill

KEN PHILPOTT classes the water lilies growing in his dam as ‘emergency food’ but judging by the amount of produce coming from the rest of his garden those rations are unlikely to be called upon any time soon.

He also grows water hawthorn and while adamant that “You can eat the lot” it is also unlikely to feature in any of his dishes in the near future. There is no need. Ken has the best of best fresh veggies at his doorstep, and he grows them himself.

As well as filling his own needs, the 78-year-old grows an over-abundance of fruit and vegetables that he enjoys sharing with friends.

A small oasis of shade, colour, edible plants and a prized Wollemi Pine, the 2.2ha garden was barely established when Ken settled in Meander 13 years ago, but under his green thumb it has flourished.

And it’s all his own work. From the garden beds to the home- made hot house, apart from the use of a tiller, all the ground preparation is done by hand. Nowadays, Ken reaps the harvest of numerous different fruit trees and from softer fruits like raspberries and blueberries.

A variety of tomatoes, capsicums and other heat loving plants thrive in the hot house that is surrounded by garden beds overflowing with hardier veggies such as beans, potatoes, snow peas and pumpkins.

With his ever present shadow Sheba, a 13-year-old Kelpie, Ken gets up ‘with the sparrows’ and works in the garden until mid-morning. He then retires indoors to prepare a meal using the fruits of his harvest.

Indoors is a showcase to some of Ken’s other loves that include memorabilia from his days of restoring horse drawn vehicles. Pulled by Clydesdales, the carriages and wagons were used for weddings and parades.

There is also a sadly quiet Double Bass that the former band member has been unable to play since he injured his wrist three years ago. His wrist is healing slowly and he’s counting the days until he can play again.

Ken, who can trace his ancestry back to the 2nd Fleet, came to Tasmania from New South Wales where he lived on a property near Wyong. Always the gardener, at one stage it became a source of income when he grew 5000 tomato plants in 10 huge glass houses. Before that, he was a wool buyer for around 20 years, a job that took him all over the country influencing his move to Tasmania.

Photo | Mike Moores