Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Kroombit Tops excursion
Members met at 7:30am for the two hour trip to Kroombit Tops National Park. Those who owned 4WD vehicles offered spare seats to other members as the track can be rough and muddy.

A brief stop at around 9:30am to meet up with other members who had camped overnight, and we were off again to the site of the 'Beautiful Betsy' crash. This took about 2 hours and soil and vegetation changed quite dramatically at times.

At the crash site, there was excellent signage, and a surprising amount of wreckage scattered around.

After lunch, members stopped at a heath community and identified a number of plants.

Tomas found some interesting leaves!

This pretty little tree is OLACEAE Notelaea microcarpa

After a long hot and dusty drive, members were glad of the cool breeze, amazing view and afternoon tea at the Kroombit lookout.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

NEW address for Gumnuts

The ASGAP 'Gumnuts' site has changed web address.
Find it now at

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Best practice guidelines for urban and home garden irrigation
The Water Services Association of Australia and Irrigation Association of Australia have funded the development of best practice guidelines for urban and home garden irrigation. For further information visit
Brisbane Flower Show:
Members & Friends,
It might surprise you but there were more than 50 flowering varities of natives around Gladstone, on Council and Port Authority land, I sent about 40 different specimens down for the flower show. Pity I couldn't have some help from other sgaps. I spent from 12-30 till 7-30 pm when I put the two cartons on the bus for Brisbane. Hope you enjoy the photo sent by Lorna. I can't print it out in color, but some of you may like to do so for your albums.
Ruth Crosson

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Australian Landscape Conference 10th – 11th September 2005

A Gardener’s Response

This was the sixth international landscape and garden design conference held in Melbourne and I was lucky enough to be given a registration. I imagined it would be seriously landscape oriented and landscaper attend but the lure of international and Australian speakers talking about garden design and their “Creative processes for design excellence” I knew would be relevant.

The International speaker lineup was an excellent as it was varied and the all made reference to their creative processes (early horticultural experiences, study, climate, soil and site analysis and plant selection decisions) in their first lecture and their second focused on their applications in their work. Their own illustrative slides and audio selections were delightful.

I have quoted information from the conference brochure which I found made such sense after the event! Penelope Hobhouse spoke first on “Training the Eye: the art of garden design”. She told of her early gardening, her writings and her more recent research in gardening history, garden styles and discovery of Persian oasis gardens. One of her earliest books was about colour in the garden and she confesses now she’s far more charmed by simplifying and reducing decorative planting. Her second lecture on “Nature and Art in the Garden” and led to her expounding on her new love of open paved areas, subtle water features and structural tree planting. She spoke of our gardens being our attempts to make paradise on earth and that these would be the paradise we would find eventually. Not being involved in that line of thinking I was rather fearful of the prospect!

From the US was Rick Darke, described as “a design consultant, author and photographer focused on landscape design, restoration, planning and ‘enhancement’. His lecture was titled “Creating the Livable Landscape: and ethic for ecological gardening” and “The Woodland Garden: capturing the spirit of the forest”. Both were superbly illustrated and beautifully depictive of north-eastern US in all seasons, both his personal garden and the woodlands and gardens in that area. I felt his major message was to open our eye, to view things differently, to seek out subtlety and to leave only a gentle impression of our existence.

James Hitchmough, a Professor in the Department of Landscape in the University of Sheffield has spent several years in Melbourne as a lecturer at Burnley Collage before returning to the UK. His topics were “Values and Meanings in our Gardens: The great debate” and Glamour in the Garden: naturalistic herbaceous plants communities”. I’m not sure about “glamour” but he spoke amusingly and realistically about establishing plants communities and planting failures. His current work is in naturalistic herbaceous vegetation, planting green meadows with a mix of native and compatible wild grasses and flowers. His suggestion for “meadow” planting in Australia gave an example using Kangaroo Grass (Themeda australis) a great favourite of his; teamed with hot pokers kniphofia spp, a non invasive agapanthus and a daisy form (I’m a bit vague here). He was adamant that Echinacea spp in Australian paddock conditions would be a dud, said with a Sheffield accent rhyming with wood! It seemed to me that there was a lot of time through winter and early spring that these British meadows were not at their best but that in Australia we had much better prospects for year round satisfaction.

Christopher Bradley-Hole, also from the UK, trained and worked as an architect before “his fascination for plants and gardens led him to refocus on the broader landscape”. His lecture was titled “The Urban Garden: Crafting a modern style” with examples of his Chelsea Flower Show entries displaying “pared down simplicity….executed with a sharp eye for both rigorous design and harmonious planting” and “The Wider Landscape country gardens and public landscapes”. He described his architectural visions inspired by mathematical perfection, the rectangular blocks of colour in the Mondrian style are and Fibonacci series which he then interprets in bare stonework or exuberantly plants with perennials and grasses. His problems-solving techniques with moving people through his landscape were impressive.

The last international landscaper was Juan Grimm from Chile who, apart from suffering from the flu, was any thing but grim. His presentations were titled “The Landscape of Chile: a vision of nature and for design” where he introduced us to the broad range of areas and their natural landscape across the length of Chile, and “Garden Design in Chile: challenges and opportunities where he showed us many of his fabulous private and public design works. They were indeed brilliantly related to the landscape and made great use of the indigenous vegetation teamed with exotics that would support and mould to the forces of nature in a similar way. He loved showing us Puya chilensis a grey/green leafed bromeliad that stars along the northern and central coastline, a great favourite of his. I would recommend members seek out his book. Most of the gardens we saw were large (one was 32 acres!) and impressive but were never tasteless extravaganzas.

A landscaper originally from Czechoslovakia but now designed in Sydney is Vladimir Sitta, Who spoke on “Exploring the Edge: does our construction ability intimidate our ideas”. He was wonderfully disrespectful and outrageous and says he “does not see the private garden as a place of naked confrontation and dispute with nature…..unlike out public landscapes with concepts homogenised to pulp by public authorities, bean counters, conspiracy lawyers and oh, so inspiring, public consultation”. That quote sums him up delightfully. He feels “private gardens retain the highly individualistic and specific character”. His certainly do! Thinking black caned bamboo, pebble surfaces and shallow black marble pools, or fabulous arrangements of cacti, succulents and grasses in angular coloured walls and you have some idea of the scope of his designs.

From New Zealand came Robert Watson, a lawyer who turned to landscaping and is based in Christchurch. “He does private, commercial, tourist, urban and rural design projects” and he had wonderful slides to show some of variety of his work. His lecture titled “New Directions from New Zealand” showed us some of his work like small courtyard gardens, City gardens and sweeping landscape patterns on the Canterbury plains. One of these, now 10 years old, was planted to wrap the proposed house and surrounding garden from the diving winds. It still is without a house even though the shelter-belt is well established. This, or another there, is planted only with native or New Zealand bred plants in astounding foliage and growth habit patterns.

The delightful Professor George Seddon, a Senior Research fellow at the centre for studies of Australian Literature, University of WA spoke on “Adapting our Gardens to our Environment”. His theory on successful gardening is to not choose a plant and then attempt to provide the conditions for it to survive. “This is the wrong way around and we should accept what our environment offers, then make our plant and design choices accordingly. This was the material of his scholarly lecture and we all need these reminders! For those how saw gardening Australia on 8th October 2005 you had the combined delight of meeting this thoughtful person and viewing his delightful Mediterranean garden where he has put his design and ecological principles into practice.

Kate Cullity, a landscape architect from WA spoke on “Working with the Poetics of the Australian Landscape”. She works with a team which “undertake investigations into the poetic expression of the Australian landscape” but as this is mostly what the GDSG is all about it was a bit waffly for me. The work involves installations and designs to represent/make people notice/draw attention to the beauty of our Natural Landscape.

Professor Jim Sinatra and Phin Murphy delivered a dual address titled “Art, Sculpture and the Landscape”. “Their creative process includes ‘landscape paintings’ which developed from working with inspiring landscapes and indigenous people.” They seem to experiment with form and shapes and apply these to the landscape in forms like the giant banners and “Tracky Dacks” that march across featureless new subdivisions or moulded reflective pillars in the park – amusing and light-hearted designs.

Andrew Laidlaw is the landscape architect for the RBG Melbourne. He was an inspired and inspiring speaker but I will quote the brochure entirely for this summary of his work and the illustrations he showed. “He we principal designer for the Perennial Border, Species Rose Garden, Water Conservation Garden, Long Island (RBG) Indigenous Garden, Two stands at the international Flower and Garden Show (2 gold medals) and the New Children’s Garden. He consulted with co-workers in the gardens for their input in his designs.

All of these speakers were brought together through the efforts of Warwick and Sue Forge and the audience and the speakers were adeptly controlled by John Patrick. They presented a varied but cohesive and entertaining event. Inspiration came from the consistent call to use materials suited to the site, to look anew at arrangements, ecological considerations, colour and planting possibilities and to experiment with combinations of native and like minded exotics.

They had also arranged a Pre-conference Design Garden Tour for the Friday when delegates toured 6 gardens and had a chance to talk with most of the owners. I was not able to tour but heard reports of it being a great success.

The event was definitely not heavily loaded to the professional and there were many “home gardens” among the audience seeking new ideas. It cost were approximately $500 per person, accommodation of course extra, but very much worth the effort. The tour was $95 for the day. There was a lot to dream about and to ponder. Reality hit when I returned to my personal, small, still working up to paradise, suburban lot with plantings a mix of natives, flowers for cutting and organic vegetables. I enjoy the efforts and the changes I have to make and the economies I have to apply but I was overwhelmed by the thought of all thousand of dollars that have been spent in making extravagant paradises for those who had the resources. Perhaps some of those resources could be funneled off to planting plans for needy countries.

Caroline Gunter.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

The White Cedar Tree

Association of Societies for Growing Australian Plants
Garden Design Study Group
Newsletter No. 52
November 2005
Leigh Murray NSW

White Cedar is ideal for car parks because of its umbrella shape. Please use local source plants, not the common plant grown that is Indian or Chinese in origin. The local plant appears to have smaller fruit, and so attractive to local birds. Importantly, the White Cedar should not be mulched around as this allows the leaf striping caterpillar to attack it. The caterpillar lives in mulch during the day and eats the leaves at night. I have watched the tree next to the Newcastle Museum and they are not mulched and the caterpillars do not seem to be able to survive to attack them (but I haven’t been in there this year, so a check wouldn’t hurt). Therefore if you grow White Cedar, have bare earth around them. They perform very well in the hot dry situation that car parks provide. Councils may worry about the fruits of the White Cedar may attract birds the will crap on the cars in the car park. However White Cedar fruits ripen when there are not leaves on the trees, which means the birds don’t hang around the trees but eat their fill and go and sit somewhere safer. Also the fruit are rather large, so the birds can’t eat many anyway, and have to move on. The tree is using the old gambit “don’t put your fruits all in the one bird” as that bird may get eaten and they never know where the seeds will end up!

By Ruth Crosson

This method was tried by past member Dawn, who said it was successful. Tie a piece of Hessian sack around the trunk of the White Cedar; turn down the collar using the top portion of the sack. Caterpillars crawl up the trunk, getting under the collar and can’t proceed, being trapped. Every morning Dawn would squash the Hessian collar, and so kill the caterpillars. Caterpillars need to eat, like every thing else. They are also part of the food chain and in turn feed birds that visit the trees by day and nocturnal animals which are also protein feeders, eating caterpillars and insects. Possums in your garden are a natural control, they may eat your roses and fruit, but they also eliminate other pests. Butterflies and moths are pollinators, No pollination no seeds. No seeds no trees, caterpillars, butterflies, moths, birds, nocturnal animals, lizards and frogs. The trees and foliage are dependent upon your actions; think before you load up your garden sprayer with poisons, you could be destroying a lot more than you think.

Friday, March 31, 2006

Lenore Lindsay's Radio Talk no. 3
(reproduced with Lenore's permission)
Topic: Myths about Native Plants, favourite shrubs

Good morning listeners. Lenore Lindsay from the Society for Growing Australian Plants here again.

Don’t forget our meetings are held on the fourth Friday of every month at 7.30am in the administration block of the Frenchville State School, and our organized outings are held on the first Sunday. These can be full or half days, so listen for the community announcements or ring 49283699 or 49282862 for information.

Today I think it’s about time we debunked some of the myths that are still doing the rounds about Australian plants. If you believe or act on any of these you’ll be disappointed with your garden, and that would be a terrible shame, as native plants can be so rewarding.

Old wives’ (or old husbands’) tale number one is that Australian natives are no maintenance. Wrong! They’re plants – living organisms with needs like any other life-form. The secret to gardening successfully is careful selection of plants, so that those with similar requirements are grouped together, and you aren’t going to end up a few years down the track with inappropriate plants in unsuitable positions, such as a big gum tree close to your house.

If you aren’t prepared to put a bit of extra time into your garden, don’t choose plants that need extra care, no matter where they come from. Consider something like one of the new Lomandra cultivars such as Tanika, which only needs cutting back to near ground level every 5 years or so to maintain its lovely architectural shape. Time spent in careful selection in the beginning will save you time and money (and frustration) later on.

Fairy tale number 2 is that you shouldn’t prune natives. Rubbish! Pruning is as necessary for a good looking native garden as for any other, and virtually the same general guidelines apply. The best time to cut is after flowering, and remove up to a third of the growth. Prune to even up the plant shape, or to shape for hedges or classic topiary. Native Rosemary or Westringia has a really attractive dense growth when pruned regularly, as do some of the Lillipillies and figs, and lots of others. Pruning prevents plants becoming leggy, helps them look lush and keeps them contained so that they fit into a garden with a variety of plants that all look healthy and happy.

Fallacy number 3 is that Australian natives don’t need watering. If you want a no-water native garden, then you need to choose only indigenous plants. That is, plants that occur naturally in your area, or at least, plants from areas with similar climate. If you have a garden with a collection of plants with different water requirements, supplementary watering is essential. Remember to group like needs together, and that one deep watering is better than half a dozen superficial ones.

Myth 4 is that you shouldn’t feed Australian plants. The truth is that they don’t like chemical fertilizers that are high in phosphorous, but they do like to be fed. Spring and Autumn are best times. Use either a specially formulated Australian native plant food, or an organic based fertilizer such as blood and bone or pelletised animal manure. Follow the directions – more is not always better. Quite the opposite in fact!

And here’s a true story to restore your confidence: Australian natives, like all plants, need to be mulched. This conserves water, suppresses weeds, cools the root system, and if you use an organic mulch, it improves the soil as it breaks down. If you don’t want to keep replacing an organic mulch, are creating a particular style, or live in a bushfire area, you might prefer to use inorganic mulch such as gravel, pebbles or river stones.

So, whether you want an all-native garden or a mixed native/exotic one, forget the fairy tales from the seventies, and remember the golden rule for successful gardening – careful plant selection and pruning, and appropriate fertilizer, watering and mulching – and you’ll have a garden to be proud of.

Now, what about your plant choices. In previous segments I’ve had a quick look at ground covers, including vines and spiky or grass-leaved plants, and accent subjects for hanging baskets, so I thought maybe this week I’d finish with a bit of a discussion on a couple of my favourite shrubs.

The first is the Beach Cherry, Eugenia reinwardtiana. There are wonderful examples growing in the Kershaw Gardens. This is a lovely rounded and compact shrub with glossy green leaves, red new growth, small white flowers, and bright red shiny fruit which taste delicious. While they usually have a single seed, in some really large fruits it can be divided into 2 or more segments. These seeds are easy to germinate, though they can take a month or two to come up. You only need to see the seedlings under the shrubs at the Kershaw to realize this. While this plant is slow growing, it usually flowers within the first couple of years. It needs well drained soil, and often responds well to a dressing of lime or gypsum. It’s hardy, and will withstand salt winds, so is good for a coastal garden. In this harsher situation, the leaves may be more leathery. It can also tolerate light frosts. It is equally at home as an understory plant, but fruits best in semi-shade to full sun. It’s great next to a path or edge, or as a container plant. Definitely on the list of favourites!

Another on my personal list is the Scarlet Fuschia, Graptophyllum excelsum. Again, there’s some great examples down at the Kershaw Gardens, edging the path from the Highway carpark. This is another hardy compact shrub with shiny dark green leaves and vivid red tubular flowers. It makes a great screen or hedge, tub plant, specimen shrub or part of a mixed planting. In really hot dry conditions it will need semi-shade, but in humid coastal areas or temperate climate it can be planted in full sun. It needs good drainage, and responds well to lime. This is Rockhampton’s Native Shrub emblem, and is rare and endangered in the wild. So if you plant this, you’ll be doing your bit to help its survival. Fortunately it’s becoming established in cultivation, and is available at a number of local nurseries.

And lucky last for today is the Cat’s Whiskers, botanical name, Orthosiphon aristartus. This is a hardy and extremely versatile small shrub, suitable for all but very cold areas. It can be grown in sun or shade, but has a fairly high water requirement in full sun. Its big advantage is that it flowers in full shade. The flowers are spectacular long terminal spikes, with long stamens that give it its common name. There are 2 colour forms – white and mauve, but the mauve is less hardy and more cold sensitive. It grows quickly, and can easily become leggy, so prune heavily after flowering to keep it looking good. This means it will also need regular fertilizing. It grows quickly and easily from cuttings, and it’s a good idea to keep a few “on the go” and renew your plants every so often if they become tired or too woody. This is a shrub that can be integrated into all types of gardens, even a cottage-type flower garden, and makes a wonderful understory planting. It has the bonus of cut flowers as well.

So, that’s all for today. Happy gardening till next time.
Lenore Lindsay's Radio Talk No 2
(reproduced with Lenore's permission)
Topic: Groundcovers and hanging pots and baskets

Good morning listeners. Lenore Lindsay from the Society for Growing Australian Plants here again.

Just a reminder that our meetings are held on the fourth Friday of the month at 7.30pm in the administration block of the Frenchville State School, and besides the usual business, there is always plant related discussion, and usually a speaker or presentation of some sort.

Excursions are the first Sunday of the month. Listen for the community announcements, or ring 49283699 or 49282862 for details.

Now, let’s talk groundcovers and hanging pots and baskets, as the same sorts of plants are often suitable for both, and there are some lovely Australian natives that make excellent subjects.

Remember the plant I mentioned last month , Warrigal Greens? It’s a good groundcover, and grows in a pot, but it’s not particularly decorative as the flowers are insignificant, and you need quantity if you’re using it as a vegetable. While fresh green might be great for a useful ground cover, you probably want something a bit more eye-catching for a hanging basket.

Plants in hanging containers near walkways, on balconies and verandahs etc can be easily monitored and cared for. Because they have limited space in which to develop roots, they need more attention than plants in the ground – more frequent watering, slow release fertilizer, re-potting in a reasonably well drained potting mix, (and remember to mulch when you do), sometimes pruning and shaping. (But you will be repaid for your work by the visual results).

Rainforest natives make good specimens for shaded areas eg hanging under a tree or indoors, as they can usually be happy in a low light situation, though they will look best in a well-lit spot. Full or part sun areas need plants that like those conditions, and these are usually ones that tend to give the best floral displays. Plants indoors or on sheltered patios need to be taken outdoors and thoroughly watered once a week, including hosing off the foliage. This removes dust from leaves, which can sap their vigour, and ensures a thorough flushing to remove any buildup of excess salts. Time under the shower can be a reasonable substitute. Plants outdoors need to be watered more frequently, sometimes daily in really hot dry weather, especially if in full sun.

A spectacular flowering vine is the Red Hoya or Hoya macgillivrayii from Cape York. It is one of the most spectacular of the hoyas, with large waxy red, pink or maroon flowers with a beautiful perfume and thick fleshy leaves. It can be grown in the ground, but is best presented in a large hanging basket. When there’s a metre or so of vine, wrap it round the bottom of the basket and back up again so that the basket eventually becomes covered by a mass of vine. Although it’s tempting, try to avoid cutting the flowers, as they come from special stems that take a couple of years to grow. There’s a white hoya too that will take more sun, Hoya australis. Its flowers are smaller, but still very attractive and sweetly scented. It grows wild in central Qld, and is common in places on the coast and in the dry scrubs.

A small to medium easily managed vine that needs full sun to flower successfully is the Native Red Flowered Passionfruit, Passiflora aurantia. The unusual flowers are cream at first, changing to red after a day or so, and while the fruits are not edible, it will attract butterflies when used as a groundcover in an exposed situation, in a large hanging basket coiled around the container, or more conventionally on a trellis or climbing up the outside of a tree where birds can reach it too. It’s a food plant for the Glasswing and Cruiser butterflies. This is a good hardy plant for suburban gardens as it’s not rampant, and is ideal for beach gardens and drier inland areas too.

A small hardy ground cover for a dry shady corner is the native Rock Peperomia, Peperomia leptostachya. This is a succulent with small spikes of tiny flowers and minute fruits, grown for its foliage, similar to the exotic introduced Peperomias. It will rot if over-watered, so on a poorly drained or clayey site, it may be best grown in leaf litter or well composted mulch. It also makes an excellent pot plant. You often find it growing wild in the rocky
vine scrubs round Rockhampton.

For a floral display, I can recommend the various species and cultivars of the Scaevola or Blue Fan Flower. It gets its name from the flower’s resemblance to an open fan. The local variety is hardier, but some of the named cultivars are probably easier to obtain, and make a beautiful purple-blue display in a hanging basket. They do need a bit more TLC than the local though. Once you have a big healthy plant, you can propagate more from cuttings.

Another lovely purple flower is the False Sarsaparilla or Purple Coral Pea. The small pea shaped flowers of the twining evergreen Hardenbergia violacea make a lovely show. It needs a well-drained frost free site, in a sunny or semi-shaded position, and responds well to pruning. The most widely grown variety in Australia is Happy Wanderer, and there is a pink cultivar, Rosea, and a white one, Alba, but these are not as hardy.

A lovely groundcover is Yellow Buttons, Chrysocephalum apiculatum, a low hardy herb with grayish woolly leaves and little round bright yellow button flowers. Its had a name change recently, so might still be labelled Helichrysum apiculatum. It’s hardy, spreads quite well, and can be transplanted. For sun or part shade.

If you want a more architectural or geometric look, you might consider some of the plants with strappy or spiky grass-like leaves. These can look particularly effective with a mulch of gravel or river stones, and look good in both an informal bush garden and in a more formal situation as well.

The Lomandras or Mat Rushes make a strong, virtually indestructible statement once established, and there’s a new fine-leaved cultivar just out called Tanika, which is smaller, more compact, and just as tough.

Another favourite are the Blue Flax Lilies or Dianellas, with grey-green leaves and blue to purple flowers on spikes, followed by shiny blue edible berries containing a single seed. There are a number of varieties around. There’s even a local variant with whitish fruits. Dianella attraxis or the Rainforest Flax Lily has crowded flowers on a fairly short stem, and is best in well-watered semi-shade. Check it out at the Kershaw Gardens. While others such as caerulea or the taller revoluta are best in full sun. Cultivars such as Cassa Blue and Little Rev are small and tough, but need good drainage. Try Little Jess or Breeze for less well-drained areas. These are popular plants for median strips, factory sites, and similar areas where really hardy plants are required.

There’s even a tough, drought tolerant tufted native grass, a Poa, with blueish foliage that can stand some humidity as well, that’s been introduced into cultivation. It’s called Eskdale.

And don’t forget the possibilities presented by the annual everlasting or paper daisies sown en masse.

Till next time, happy gardening!
Lenore Lindsay Radio Talk No 1
reproduced with Lenore's permission)
Topics: Mulch, Warrigal Greens - New Zealand Spinach

Good morning listeners. I’m Lenore Lindsay from the Society for Growing Australian Plants. There are similar groups under various names all over Australia eg the Australian Plants Society in Victoria, the Australian Native Plants Society in the ACT and the Wildflower Society in Western Australia, and we are all part of the Association of Societies for Growing Australian Plants or ASGAP.

We are interested in all aspects of growing Australian native plants, whether in private gardens, public parks, occuring naturally in the bush, or being raised and used for revegetation or commerce.

Our local branch meets at 7.30pm on the fourth Friday of every month except December in the administration block of the Frenchville State School. At most meetings we have a guest speaker or a presentation of some sort, as well as conducting the usual business and discussing plant specimens brought by members.

On the first Sunday of each month except January we hold an outing or excursion. This can be either a full or half day, or occasionally a weekend campout. These are usually not very taxing physically, and are suitable for the whole family.

So far this year we have looked at a small but very diverse patch of remnant bush at Lammermoor Beach followed by a visit to a large garden of mixed natives and exotics at Emu Park, visits to 3 very interesting predominantly native gardens in Rockhampton, and inspected the unique flora of a serpentinite area on a property near the Fitzroy River upstream from The Gap. We usually assemble at the Northside Plaza if our destination is on the north side of the river, and O’Shanesy Park if it’s south. Visitors are welcome, and there are usually opportunities to carpool. On our bush trips we not only enjoy “God’s garden”, but are sometimes lucky enough to find a plant with potential for cultivation, and seeds to begin experimenting. If you miss the community announcements about excursions in the local media, you can ring 49283699 or 282862 for information.

Isn’t it nice to see Rocky green again? Let’s keep hoping for more rain, as it can be quite disheartening to see plants stressed and struggling, and drought turns gardening into hard work, if it doesn’t turn you off it all together. Unfortunately, in spite of popular mythology, no garden is entirely maintenance free, though you can minimize the amount required. You can sum it up with mulch, mulch, mulch and then more mulch. But…….

Don’t put green mulch such as lawn clippings or freshly chipped tree waste around plants. Let it compost and age for a couple of months first, then spread 7-10cm thick, but don’t apply too thickly around stems as excess moisture could encourage collar rot, a fungal disease that could kill your plants. Newspaper and cardboard can make a great bio-degradable weed mat under the mulch. Organic mulches need to be topped up periodically as they eventually break down to enrich the soil and feed your plants. And don’t forget to mulch your large pot plants. Sometimes mulch, like soil, can become water repellant, and then you can use a wetting agent to help it reabsorb moisture.

Remember to water deeply when you do water. Frequent shallow watering will produce shallow-rooted weak plants without any resilience. Late afternoon is probably the optimum time to water (don’t forget your mosquito repellant!). And remember to group plants with similar water requirements together, so their needs can be met.

With the current high price of leafy green veges, how about trying to grow an unusual native one in your home garden? Warrigal Greens, also known as New Zealand Spinach or Botany Bay Greens was the first domesticated indigenous vegetable to be widely grown overseas, and was a popular mainstay in 19th Century Europe because of its hardiness and high yield. It fell out of favour in Australia as European veg became more easily available, but, like pigweed, remained in use in the bush where fresh greens were a luxury.

It has a jaw-breaking scientific name – Tetragonia tetragonioides, but fortunately its common names are easy to remember. It will grow from seed or cuttings, and in good conditions will spread into a lush groundcover quite quickly. Excess makes good chookfood or compost, and as a living mulch it also helps conserve moisture and suppress weeds.

Its leaves are thick and triangular, 2-12cm long, bright green and glistening as if covered by dew or fine sugar or salt crystals, especially underneath. Small yellow flowers are followed by hard horned seed pods. Warrigal Greens grow wild in places along the banks of rivers like the Fitzroy and along the coast, and plants can often be obtained at markets or more specialized nurseries. While it may be a little hard to find right now, look again as the weather gets cooler, towards winter.

To prepare New Zealand Spinach, choose young green leaves and tips. Wash and then blanch in boiling water, discarding this water. The leaves are then ready to use in salads or any other dishes instead of spinach, and boiled or steamed make an excellent vegetable. It is important to always blanch the leaves before eating to remove any soluble oxalates and salt.

Here’s a recipe for a cheese and greens pie you might like to try when you’ve harvested your crop.

You’ll need: 500g cottage cheese
1 cup grated tasty cheese
1 onion diced
3 eggs
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon nutmeg
ground black pepper
3-4 handfuls warrigal greens blanched
10 sheets fillo pastry
2 tablespoons melted butter or oil

Squeeze leaves to remove excess water and chop finely.
Mix cheeses, onion, eggs and seasoning in a large bowl
Add greens and stir till well combined
Brush half of each pastry sheet with melted butter or oil and fold in half.
Arrange 5 folded sheets to cover the bottom of a 23x30 or 25cm square roasting pan or similar.
Spread the filling over the base then top with the remaining sheets.
Brush the top with any remaining oil and bake at 180 degrees C for 35-40 minutes, until the top is browned and the filling set.
Cut into squares and serve with cooked vegetables or a tomato salad.

Happy eating, and happy gardening till next time!

Monday, January 09, 2006

Jan Sked
Pine Rivers

All my Hoyas are grown in hanging baskets that are located in trees or shrubs in the garden. Some of the baskets eventually fall to bits and the Hoyas drop down into the garden and either continue to thrive or disappear forever. I use small hanging baskets, 200mm in diameter, as Hoyas prefer to have their roots constricted. The mix I use in the baskets is two parts premium commercial potting mix, one part sand and one part coir peat. It is the same mix I use in most of my pots.

The first Hoya I ever grew was given to me by well known Queensland SGAP member Merv Hodge in 1977. It was simply known as Hoya australis. I do not know which subspecies it belongs to. It is still growing on a fence in the garden, but has not been a very good flowerer. The leaves are particularly large, up to 16cm long and quite glabrous. The flowers are white, fairly small and in sparse clusters.

My next two Hoya australis were given to me by Norm McCarthy of Toowoomba in 1979. Once again I do not know which subspecies. These two seem to have died out, as I have not seen them for some years.

In 1982 I obtained a plant at the SGAP Flower Show which was labelled Hoya keysii. In later years this became Hoya australis ssp. australis, and it has proven to be by far my best Hoya. I have grown many plants from cuttings from this plant and distributed it amongst many SGAP members and friends. It has pale green felty leaves and the showy flower heads are up to 7cm across with about 20 pure white waxy fragrant flowers. I believe the first collection of this species was made at Mt. Perry in 1884.

In 1982 I also obtained a specimen of Hoya australis ssp tenuipes from the SGAP Flower Show, probably from David Liddle. It was labelled at the time as "Hoya sp. Langkelly Creek". The leaves are thick, light green, with undulate margins. It flowers in October with heads of white fragrant flowers, about 1 - 1.5cm across, not as numerous or quite as large as Hoya australis ssp. australis.

In 1985 I added another of David Liddle's Hoyas to my collection. This time it was Hoya australis ssp. oramicola, labelled at that time as Hoya sp. aff. australis. This species comes from the Northern Territory and the north-west of Western Australia. The dark green leaves are thick and glabrous, and when juvenile the edges are tightly recurved. The heads of white flowers are smaller than the other Hoya australis I have grown. It flowers in March.

Hoya potsii is a very successful Hoya in the garden. It was known for many years as Hoya nicholsoniae, and occurs naturally in north Queensland, from the Iron Range to Townsville. The foliage is an attractive feature of this plant. Leaves are oval-shaped, thick and fleshy, with pronounced parallel silvery venation. They assume shades of maroon, copper, red and purple in bright light. The flowers are cream to pale yellow, 1 - 1.5cm across, in dense heads of up to 30 flowers. Their perfume can usually be detected towards evening. Flowering in my plant has been recorded from October to January. I obtained this plant in 1981 from Fairhill Nursery at Yandina.

The rare and spectacular Hoya macgillivrayi is very hard to get to flower in my garden. In fact, it is pretty touchy to keep alive at all. It occurs naturally in the McIlwraith and Iron Ranges of Cape York Peninsula. My first one was a gift from a Pine Rivers member in 1981. I lost it after a number of years, probably because the position I had it in was not very good. It did flower for me a couple of times and these flowers are well worth waiting for. The flowers were in umbels of seven, each flower about 6cm across, a purple colour shading to white at the centre of the corolla. I grew a second specimen from cutting from this plant, but both have since passed out of existence.

My third and fourth Hoya macgillivrayi were obtained from the SGAP Flower Show in 2001. They are both growing quite well - one in full shade within my rainforest and the other on the edge of the rainforest where it gets good light, but little direct sunlight. Interestingly, the one that has flowered has been the one in deep shade. The flower colour is different from the first two specimens I had. This one has reddish-purple flowers with no white in the centre.

At the SGAP Flower Show in 1981 I obtained a plant labelled Hoya rubida. It has also gone under the name of Hoya lauterbachii, and is now reclassified as Hoya sussuela, This one is very striking with flower heads of up to 12 dark red waxy flowers (5cm across). The outer part of the corolla is a light fawn-brown colour, making it an interesting contrast. It flowers from March to May. This one comes from north Queensland in the McIlwraith Range area. Sadly, I eventually lost this one and have never been able to find a replacement.

Another species that I have grown but since lost is Hoya anulata. This is listed as a rare plant. Two of these species came my way via David Liddle in 1982 and 1983. This species has gone under the names Hoya pseudolittoralis and Hoya poolei. This one comes from the Iron Range area of north Queensland. The leaves are about 5cm long, oval-shaped and fleshy. They turn bronze to red when exposed to the sun. The flowers are in loose umbels of about 10 flowers, and these are pale pink to white with dark pink centres.

Two unamed hoya species were also obtained in 1983. One was labelled Hoya sp. Bamaga and the other Hoya sp. aff. holrunghii.. These two have disappeared into the garden and have not been seen for some time. I don't remember what the flowes were like, but I believe they were white in both cases.

Another Hoya species from north Queensland was given to me by a former SGAP member in 2003. It has not yet flowered for me, but the person I got it from gave me a photo of the flowers, which appear to be about 2-3cm across and pure white, in umbels of seven. The plant has very large leaves, up to 18cm lon. Both stems and undersides of the leaves are hairy.

I also have a few exotic Hoyas that came my way. The first is Hoya carnosa (Pink Wax Flower), which has been a favorite in general cultivation for many years. It was originally believed to be a native species, but these days it is not recognised as such. I believe it grows on Christmas Island, which is an Australian Territory. This species has flowered regularly for me from October through to March ever since I got it, and the flowers are quite beautiful - pale waxy pink with deeper pink centre, in tight umbels of 20 or more. A very attractive species, it has given rise to various cultivars, of which I have two.

One of the cultivars is Hoya carnos variegated, which has fleshy cream, green and pink leaves. It is supposed to have fragrant pink flowers, but so far has not flowered for me. In fact, it does not appear to be a particularly happy plant.

The other cultivar is quite spectacular. I call it Hoya 'Black Magic'. The leaves when young are almost black with pink and cream splashes on purple-black stems. These gradually change to green with white splashes on green stems. Leaves and stems are glabrous. It is a very vigorous grower and flowers profusely from October through January. The flowers need to be seen to be believed. They are 1.5cm across, velvety black with red centres in tight umbels of up to 30. I have given away many cutting grown plants of this one, as anyone who sees it in flower wants it.

Another exotic I actually bought from Big W is Hoya purpurea-fusca. It has glabrous leaves up to 13cm long with 3-5 parallel veins from the base. According to the label the flowers are lightly fragrant, 1cm across, in large clusters. They are light pink with darker pink centres. So far I have been a bit disappointed with the flowers. Very few have been produced and they have only been in fairly sparse umbels, but they are quite pretty, although not as attractive as the label shows. It is growing quite well.

My last and very exciting Hoya is another one from my ex-SGAP friend, who thought it was probably an exotic. I got it from him in 2003 and it has produced its first flowers in February this year. What a surprise they proved to be - large flowers 6cm across in umbels of 7, with creamy-yellow corolla with maroon edges. The leaves are thick and leathery, up to 18 cm long by 5-8cm wide, mostly with undulate margins. New leaves and stems are hairy, but old stems and leaves seem to lose much of this hairiness. I was so excited when it flowered that I took some photos and emailed them off to Paul Forster at the Queensland Herbarium, who was able to identify it immediately for me. It is Hoya imperialis from Malaysia.

I hope to add more species to my collection, although I am running out of trees to attach them in. I would like to obtain again some of the ones that I have lost over the years.
SGAP display at Visitors Centre , Tondoon - month February 2006
SGAP has been invited to set up a display with set up 1-30 pm Tuesday 31 st Jan 06. If you wish to help please contact Ruth by phone.
We can have a discussion on 15 th Jan 06 about what each member can do to help.

Gladstone SGAP .

AGM Walk and Talk
Sunday , 15th of January
At 10.00 am , meet Gardens Cafe , Tondoon , morning tea.
At 10-30 am we commence walk around gardens,
Before departing please order lunch for 12-30 pm.
Lunch will be until 1-30 pm.
Following this we move into visitors center for a presentation by David Hall on Native Succlents.
At approximately 2-30 we will have AGM,and compile calendar of excursions and meetings for 2006.
Please bring specimens of succulents and weeds.

This is the 30th year of Gladstone SGAP , please attend and help the branch during 2006.


Gladstone Branch

Friday, January 06, 2006

Spot the SGAP members!
From Weedwatch, the newsletter of the Cooperative Research Centre for Australian Weed Management, Volume 2 November 2005, page nine.

L to R: Joy Brusche, Bev McKay, John McKay, Anna Hitchcock and George Gibson do Weed Spotter training.

To find out more about the Weed Spotter network, check out this link:
  • Weed Spotter network
  • Blackberry (Rubus) Identification

    Text below from the website:
    "Blackberry is an interactive CD ROM enabling the identification of all species of Rubus presently known to occur in Australia. From this first step of identification will follow the next stage of documenting the most effective means of control of each of the species of the Rubus fruticosus aggregate. Once these means have been established this information can be added to future versions of the Blackberry tool."

    Check out the link:
  • Blackberry CD ROM
  • From Weedwatch, Vol 2 November 2005
    Newsletter of the Cooperative Research Centre for Australian Weed Management

    "Bushland-friendly gardens: weed-free wonderlands

    The Weeds CRC has developed a new website area, named
    Bushland-friendly gardens, that suggests which plants should be avoided in our gardens.
    While there are many organisations that currently present weed information in a myriad of formats, we felt that it was just too difficult for many gardeners and landscapers to find out this information on a regional basis. Our website provides a 'one-stop shop' in the form of a 'clickable' map that will generate two lists of commonly available garden plants that should be avoided in your chosen region.
    We have started at a relatively broad scale by subdividing the states into a total of 22 regions based on a classification of climatic zones alreday widely used in the horticultural industry.
    Reviewing more than 100 lists of problem plants prepared by a range of groups and bodies around Australia, we made the assumption that the more lists on which a plant appears, the more it is likely to cause impact within any region. Therefore, when clicking on a particular region of the map provided, two prioritised lists are generated. Where a plant species appeared three or more times in lists for a region, it was placed into the 'serious environmental weeds' list. We recommend that plants on this list are removed as soon as possible. If a plant species appeared twice, it was placed on the 'environmental weeds to avoid' list, in which case it should not be planted, or at least should be managed with great care.
    We believe that the final weeds lists for each region are a fair representation of the potential and actual impacts for each species.
    While the site does not suggets alternative species to plant, it will point (again on a regional basis) to reference documents and web information that includes such advice.
    To give your feedback please use the facility provided on the website.
    Jackie Watts"
  • Bushland-friendly gardens