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  • 22 May 2019 11:03 PM | enewsletter Editor (Administrator)

    This article by Lawrie Smith AM, Leader of the Garden Design Study Group, originally appeared in the Garden Design Study Group Newsletter 106, February 2019 and is posted with thanks to Lawrie Smith.

    Lawrie's introduction

    While attending the APS NSW gathering in November 2018 hosted by Sutherland Group I had the pleasure of visiting Joan Zande's garden and was very impressed at the application of so many design principles in this relatively small residential garden reconstructed after 40 years as a collaborative effort between Joan and an obviously very talented landscape contractor, Greg Hopcroft.

    First impressions

    First impressions lawn at Joan zande garden

    Walking up from the front gate along the stepped pathway within the narrow space between two adjoining houses you sense that there is something different about to happen – then suddenly you are sure, as straight ahead a Japanese style downpipe is the first sculptural focus to attract your attention. You turn right and can’t help but exclaim Wow!! …. as you see for the first time the surprisingly expansive garden that draws your eye up to and around the rugged enclosing sandstone cliff.

    An informal flagstone pathway invites immediate entry to the ‘amphitheatre’ garden – however the main access is further along where the surrounding garden diversity can be fully appreciated.

    Sandstone escarpment

    Sandstone escarpment at Joan Zande garden

    The almost vertical crescent of sandstone rock face more than nine metres high sweeps diagonally across the site. The rock is irregular enough to support a range of small shrubs, orchids and covers to conceal and reveal just the right amount of sandstone as the dominant physical and visual element.

    This has defined the garden design strategy through its dramatic sculptural forms, textures and colours. The strong horizontal lines of the rock strata are repeated in the rock walls, in the scree rockery, in the hedges and in the plant massing.

    The ‘borrowed landscape’ of the bushland above the rock face also enhances the garden and is reflected in the subtle diversity of the selected planting below inspired by the nearby Joseph Banks Native Plants Reserve at Kareela.

    The circular lawn

    Circular lawn at Joan Zande garden

    As you approach the garden along the upward sloping side entry path, a wide horizontal band of green seems to underline the garden view to be progressively revealed as a dramatic circular manicured grass terrace.

    The regular shape of this unexpected formal lawn is defined by the crescent sandstone rock face, with the existing sloping landform reshaped by cut and fill to complete this strongly geometric garden terrace.  Although the circular lawn and perimeter low hedge is visually dominant, it is a carefully integrated element within the garden. The contrast between the level lawn and the vertical face of the escarpment provides visual drama, and everything is carefully tied together by the strong horizontal lines of rock strata, stone walls and the surrounding hedge.

    Hedge and gardens

    Garden beds at Joan Zande garden

    The circular hedge of Syzygium ‘Allyn Magic’ effectively enhances the strength of the formal geometric design and also provides a safe edge where the garden terrace falls away to lower levels.

    In views from the several main viewpoints, the circular hedge effectively sweeps the eye into the garden to focus on a number of differing sculptural or botanic elements. Interestingly, the hedge attracts the eye into a group of formal Sannantha virgata spheres or balls, which seem to ‘bounce’ up into the sloping scree garden below the sandstone cliff.

    The contrast in form between the dramatic circular lawn and hedge with the irregularity and informality of the rockery garden merging with the sandstone cliff provides controlled visual interest and diversity. Carefully selected and managed shrubs provide an ever-changing living mosaic of colour, form and texture complementing the sculptural sandstone. 

    Access and circulation

    Sandstone steps at Joan Zande garden

    The garden geometry is primarily derived from the natural curved form of the sandstone escarpment and as it diverges away from the base of the cliff the ‘scree’ slope rockery garden becomes wider, offering a ‘natural’ rock stairway through clusters of small plants accessing the various levels of terraced garden. Sandstone slab step treads continue the sympathetic choice of ‘hard landscape’ materials to ensure that the garden colour palette is complementary and integrated.

    Skilful use of dry laid sandstone block walls again repeat the circular form and horizontal expression of the lawn and hedge, extending the visual significance of the geometry.

    Upper terraces

    Upper terrace and beds at Joan Zande garden

    High up on the rock escarpment, views down into the garden from this naturally dramatic location reveal how effectively this steep sloping site has been used and planned to provide two major and distinctive garden ‘places’, each with differing uses and attributes but all surrounded and integrated with gardens of appropriate native plants. The upper terrace, complete with timber deck, seating and fire pit, offers an attractive place for both winter and summer activities.

    The circular lawn is visually dominant but still an integral component of the garden with many uses.

    Linking gardens

    The gardens meander throughout the various levels, effectively linking the main spaces generally in irregular or ‘natural’ character but sometimes in more formal geometry.

    The plant material is carefully chosen for its suitability, function and aesthetic qualities, particularly to variously complement or contrast with the character of the sandstone. Considered use has been made to integrate a few well-chosen exotic tree species to provide focal points of seasonal interest and added diversity. 

    Collectively all of the garden materials and plants create a very interesting and unified garden in which you are enticed to progressively explore the various differing spaces and environments.

    Designed with nature

    Mixed garden beds at Joan Zande garden

    This garden strongly exhibits what I like to call ‘Design with Nature’ – where the natural geology, form and aspect of the site is a strong influence on the detail design, in close association with the functional parameters and aesthetic values set by the garden user and designer. The result is that this garden belongs just right where it is and could probably not be successfully established anywhere else.

    It exhibits that interesting juxtaposition of natural vegetation forms with appropriately modified specimens for visual contrast and other aesthetic reasons. Overall this garden offers a huge opportunity for a dedicated native plant enthusiast to successfully establish an amazing canvas on which to display a range of species suited to numerous ecological niches – what more could you ask? 

    Photos: Lawrie Smith

    Read more about the Garden Design Study Group including the newsletter archive and free membership to APS members here.




  • 22 May 2019 10:35 PM | enewsletter Editor (Administrator)

    Congratulations to Lloyd Hedges of Menai Group who was awarded Life membership at the APS NSW Annual General Meeting on 18 May 2019. Menai Group's nomination of Lloyd is reproduced here.

    Lloyd Hedges with Pam Pitkeathly  Lloyd Hedges with Pam Pitkeathly, Vice President of Menai Group

    Lloyd Hedges received the APS NSW Conservation Award in 2012 and has continued his very active contribution to the objectives of APS NSW since then.

    Lloyd’s involvement in Australian native plants has never had a narrow focus. He continues to show the connections between Australian flora and birds and animals, and the need to conserve our plants so that diversity is preserved.  He puts time into fostering good relations among neighbouring APS groups, to helping school children plant out gardens and conducting regular workshops for adults to improve their knowledge of propagation. His annual splitting of the bee hives at Illawong should not be missed. He supplies tube stock to other groups and to Sydney Wildflower Nursery and Illawarra Grevillea Park, giving Menai Group the financial stability to offer scholarships to students, fund research and to offer workshops to the community. 

    Developing the Illawong Fire Station native garden

    In 2002, Lloyd promoted Illawong Rural Fire Services station as a base for Menai Wildflower Group, where we have operated successfully as a showcase for what the Society stands for. We have extended the operation onto Sutherland Council land adjoining the fire station and have installed propagation equipment to raise plants for members, to supply plants for various projects and to conduct workshops for the community every month.

    Growing for conservation

    Two major undertakings have been engineered by Lloyd over recent times: the growing of thousands of sheoaks to line a corridor from coast to mountains for black cockatoos (the Glossies in the Mist project), and the growing and planting of lomandra in large quantities for delivery to Big Island via small tender in rough seas for the Five Islands project near Wollongong. 

    Lloyd's involvement in both projects has given valuable publicity to APS groups and provided more understanding of the importance of habitat for biodiversity.

    Developing the pink flannel flower

    Lloyd found examples of Actinotus forsythii, the pink flannel flower, in the Blue Mountains and managed to propagate this at Illawong, providing those pots of rare pink flannel flowers that were in great demand at APS meetings.  He advocated a grant to UNSW for a research project to examine this in detail, and we are expecting a report in 2019.  This scientific approach by Lloyd to Australian natives did not surprise members and colleagues who were witness to his early experiments in producing “smoke water” at the Tip nursery.

    Supporting Sutherland Council Bushcare

    Lloyd has played an active role in Bushcare in the Sutherland Shire for over 15 years. He continues these links and is involved with the ongoing survey of Powerful Owl nesting sites, work which provides great images for the web pages and opportunities to showcase these birds to younger generations.

    In 2003, Menai Group, with the help of ANSTO, published a walking guide to the Mill Creek area.  Lloyd described the tracks and identified the native flora on each track, as well as some rare aboriginal carvings which can be seen on the walk. Bardens ‘n Bush is no longer in print, but we still get enquires from people outside of the region. This project was only possible because of Lloyd’s personal knowledge of the restricted area and the contacts he had developed, and a ripple effect is still being experienced.

    Wide interests

    Lloyd’s exploration of inland Australia and its flora has been beneficial for all of us, providing many a talk for APS groups over the years, with great images to accompany his tales, not to mention the wonderful seed pod and wire jewellery that his wife Mary produced. At national level, Lloyd took part in the Desert Plant Survey in February 2011.


  • 22 May 2019 10:00 PM | enewsletter Editor (Administrator)

    Congratulations to Barry Lees of North Shore Group who was awarded Life membership at the APS NSW Annual General Meeting on 18 May 2019.  Barry’s love and respect for our native plants is contagious and he has inspired many others to share his passion. Here's North Shore Group's nomination of Barry.

    Barry Lees with Sue Bowen

    Barry Lees with Sue Bowen, President of North Shore Group

    Contribution to North Shore Group

    Barry Lees joined APS North Shore Group in 2003. Since then he has been an extremely active member and led the group for much of the past 6 years: as President (2013–2015), Vice President (2016 when there was no president) and President again in 2017–2018. Prior to becoming president in 2013 Barry was the editor of the monthly North Shore Group newsletter, Blandfordia, for 2 years in 2011 and 2012 and a committee member in 2010.

    Barry has always been supportive of all members, especially those on the committee, and provided constructive advice whenever needed. Barry almost always attended the monthly group outings and annual trips away. Barry would beaver away at working bees at the APS North Shore Group propagating area at Ku-ring-gai Wildflower Garden, where his engineering expertise and practical skills always facilitated a positive outcome.

    Barry Lees with seedlings

    As one member commented, “I think he was a great president and carried out the presidential duties with enjoyment, tact and good humour (a lot of it self-deprecating!)”. At meetings, visitors and members were always welcomed and Barry would often gently explain to newcomers why botanical names were so important for the accurate identification of plants. Barry also offered unstinting assistance to some members who needed extra help with their personal situations. Despite his own commitments, he never shied away from being there for others.

    Barry has always fulfilled the broader role of president of a group and attended APS NSW meetings and gatherings and participated in the various forums, as required.

    Barry’s interest in native plants is focused on LOCAL species as they are found in the local bush. He has an extensive knowledge of local native plants. While not focusing on gardening in their bushland setting, he and Noni have a native garden around their house. This garden is a joy to behold. Barry’s childhood was spent in the bush but it was only in the past 20 years that he started focusing on names and fine tuning his extensive experience of native plants. At a recent meeting, members talked about their favourite plant and, in keeping with his genuine and gentle approach to most things, Barry said that he particularly likes Adiantum species, i.e. Maiden Hair Ferns. 

    In a previous life, Barry had a full-time position with the organisation previously known as the State Rail Authority NSW and he has travelled extensively throughout NSW. Barry recently gave us a deeper understanding of the complexity of the rail lines and interchange arrangements at Hornsby Station while we were waiting to go on an outing.

    Barry Lees on plant survey

    Volunteering at Hornsby Herbarium

    Barry has been active in the Hornsby Herbarium work on an almost weekly basis for about 20 years. This involves a small group of very dedicated people going out into the bush in Hornsby Shire. Plant surveys are done of native plant species on Crown land, National Parks and Reserves from Wisemans Ferry to Bobbin Head and south to Pennant Hills and Hornsby.

    This team of dedicated people traipses all over the fire trails and tracks of Hornsby Shire in Barry's ancient, but excellently self-maintained 4-wheel drive doing plant surveys, investigations and the collection of particular plants, including rare species.

    Barry wouldn’t let thick scrub or cliffs get in the way if he was on a mission to track down a particular plant. Sometimes these outings were for surveys for Hornsby Shire Council, property owners or other groups involved in bushland conservation. He has also managed the Herbarium website and all the data for the group over many recent years.

    Volunteering at Landcare and Streamwatch

    Barry has also been active in his local Still Creek Landcare group based at Fagan Park, including being the coordinator. The group also cares for other surrounding areas, including Carr’s Bush. This work involves bush regeneration, planting native plants and providing advice to landholders on many aspects of growing native plants and managing their bushland. Not content to be land bound, Barry has also assisted with the Floating Landcare group on the Hawkesbury River. Barry’s own property is a “Land for Wildlife” reserve with the Office of Environment and Heritage. APS North Shore Group members have been extended hospitality on group outings there.

    Barry has contributed to Streamwatch by doing water quality monitoring in local streams. He also supported other plant and bush conservation causes by making submissions and representations to government and other organisations.

    More on Landcare

    Barry is an inaugural member of the Landcare Group and was at the first Expression of interest meeting held over 11 years ago. He has participated and contributed from the start and enthusiastically continues to today.

    Projects

    Barry has been involved in every project our Landcare group has undertaken. I estimate >15 major one off projects as well as our annual projects for Weed of the Year, Plant Giveaways, Weeds for Trees and Community Engagements.

    The Trees for Weeds has been an astonishing success over the few years it’s been running with Barry being the main driver. It has now become a major Annual Project for our group. Barry would visit each of the applicants properties and provide expert advice on how to manage weeds, what natives would be best suited to each site and then provide advice on how and when to plant.

    Barry has been a major instigator of our projects and has contributed more volunteer hours than anyone else in the group. He is directly involved in ordering materials, plant selections, weed management methodology, scheduling contractors and general operational project management.

    As a researcher, Barry would provide invaluable insight into how to best achieve the desired outcomes. His research on Bell Minor dieback is a good example. Barry proposed and used the latest approaches to eliminate the domination of the Bell Minor Birds. He created a more diverse environment by removing the dominant weeds base and planting a diverse plant population that introduced competition to the Bell Minor Birds, ultimately rebalancing the area and halting the dieback. He also shared the information back to Local Land Services to aid other Landcare Catchments.

    Barry would always trial new methods and share his findings with others. A good example of this was when we ‘Deep Stem Planting Method’ on a trial site. We had a very good outcome with improved growth and survival rates all because of an article Barry had read.

    Working bees

    Our group has regular monthly working bees all over our catchment to maintain finished projects and to help locals with worthwhile projects. That’s over 120 working bees to date. Barry’s contributions usually led the way in ‘how to’, ‘what is that’ and ‘I’ll find out for you’ areas

    Publishing

    Our Landcare group publishes monthly press releases and produces handouts on a myriad of topics to support landholders. Barry has produced a large number of wide ranging articles for our local Community News. He has also penned a number of brochures covering many topics such as weeds, plant me instead, native grasses, propagation and much much more. Again it would take time and space to list all his contributions here. Barry was also a great contributor in his reviews of our publications, keeping us to the facts and offering improvements where he saw fit.

    As an aside, Barry is the most photogenic of our group and his face has been used on many occasions with his broad hat and smile at the ready.

    Research

    Barry is our main go-to person for research, weed management, regeneration methods, planting methods, herbicide use and methods and even bush regen for climate change.

    Water testing

    For around 10 years, Barry has been part of the catchment water testing team being responsible for a sample area at the headwaters of Still Creek. Barry took monthly samples, tested, evaluated and reported via data entry into the Streamwatch program.

    Community engagement

    Landcare carries out various annual community engagements: Hornsby Council plant giveaways, local school fairs and occasional other activities. Barry has always enjoyed participating in these activities where his knowledge shines and he can share his contagious enthusiasm for nature with the public. 

    Other volunteering for the community

    Barry’s volunteering is part of a pattern of consistently helping the community over time.

    Barry has been an extremely active member of TAD Disability Services (TADNSW) over almost 40 years. In this role he puts his vast engineering and innovative and creative skills to work to assist in designing and making individual equipment for people needing help.

    Barry carries out the design, construction and familiarisation of the technical equipment be it for self-care, working, transport, recreation, schooling, or feeding purposes. One example of his work was to make a cutting board device that allowed a young boy to use scissors after he became a quadruple amputee due to meningococcal disease. Such equipment provides significant improvements to the person’s independence, enabling them to live more fulfilling lives, participate more equally with work and school colleagues, friends and family, and participate more fully in society.

    Barry has contributed to various local publications and spoken to various groups about Landcare, native plants and TAD.

    Barry has spent many an hour up the fire tower on look-out as part of his duties with Hornsby Ku-ring-gai Rural Fire District Support Brigade.

    Still not one to be idle (Barry doesn’t know the meaning of that word), he participated in an amateur musical group (Loosely Woven) for several years by repairing musical instruments, making props and being part of the “cheer squad” at events. This group raises money for charities. On a few occasions, Noni and Barry provided the musical entertainment at the APS North Shore Group Christmas parties.

    Finally, Barry has a long association with the Sydney Clockmakers Society. Members make complex clocks while providing training, recreation and host public displays of clocks.

    Barry’s contributions have been outstanding in all fields: in his leadership; his ability to inspire and encourage others; include his willingness to shoulder responsibility and to achieve goals and to lead by example in workshops, meetings, bush regeneration, survey teams or for the Hornsby Herbarium Library website. Barry’s love and respect for our native plants is contagious and he has inspired many others to share his passion.

    Barry Lees, Life Member of APS NSW 2019



  • 26 Apr 2019 1:10 PM | enewsletter Editor (Administrator)

    Enjoy some of the entries in the many classes of the Australian plants competition at the Sydney Royal Easter Show, April 2019. Thanks to all the entrants, particularly Central Coast, East Hills and Sutherland Groups, who together created a colourful display on the diversity and beauty of Australian native plants, despite the time of year. All the competition results are here, searchable by exhibitor.

    Floral arrangements

    Grevilleas at Easter Show

    Champion, Mixed or Unmixed Australian Native Blooms and First Prize, Vase of mixed grevillea blooms – Sutherland Group

    Jill McLelland with Champion ribbon


    Floral arrangement

    First Prize, Mixed arrangement in a vase – Sutherland Group

    Floral arrangement

    First Prize, Mixed arrangement not in a vase – Sutherland Group

    Floral arrangements – Banksias

    First Prize, Banksia arrangement – Sutherland Group

    Floral arrangements – miniature

    Miniature

    First Prize, Miniature vase – Central Coast Group

    Gumnuts in a car, by Sam aged 5

    Foliage arrangements

    Foliage

    First Prize – East Hills Group

    Pots – foliage

    Champion, Australian Native Plant and First Prize, Foliage (pot) – Central Coast Group

    Pots – flowering shrub

    First Prize, Flowering shrub in pot – Sutherland Group with Actinotus forsythii (pink flannel flower)

    A selection of pot entries

    Photos: Thanks to Jan Douglas and Jill McLelland.

  • 25 Apr 2019 10:30 PM | enewsletter Editor (Administrator)

    Hugh Stacy

    Hugh Stacy at the Menai Group propagation facility, May 2017

    One of the stalwarts of East Hills Group, Hugh Stacy, died on 5 March 2019, his 83rd birthday.

    Hugh was a very active and valued member of the Australian Plants Society and its forerunner, the Society for Growing Australian Plants, for many years. He was the State President from 1978 to 1980 and State Treasurer from 1989 to 1996. In 1994 he was awarded life membership of the Society in recognition of his contribution.

    Hugh’s contribution to our own district group was also much valued. I am sure we all have memories of him discussing a plant or plant family and how amazed we were by the amount of research that he had done to discover this information. Hugh possessed a wealth of knowledge on so many native plants, and often at our plant table could provide detailed information about plants that others had brought along.

    Hugh was also recognised as a skilled propagator, and many of us have plants in our gardens – particularly hakeas – that he had propagated. These are a living reminder of him.

    Members of East Hills Group attended a thanksgiving service for Hugh at the Lugarno–Peakhurst Uniting Church on Wednesday 13 March, and the large gathering of his family and friends also included APS members from other groups. The service included beautiful musical interludes in recognition of another of Hugh’s great interests. Other members of East Hills Group and members of APS who are well known to East Hills Group had attended Hugh’s funeral service at Woronora that morning.

    Hugh’s genial company, enthusiasm for native plants and extensive botanical knowledge will be greatly missed.

    Graham Fry

    President, East Hills Group

    Hugh Stacey

    Hugh Stacy at East Hills Group meeting, April 2016
    Photos: Jan Douglas, East Hills Group

  • 8 Apr 2019 11:51 AM | HEATHER MILES (Administrator)

    Interested in bioluminescent fungi? It is about this time of the year these fascinating fungi appear in the Hunter Region Botanic Gardens especially after the rain of recent times.

    The fruiting bodies should be appearing soon and there are several people keeping a lookout. If any appear, walks will be organised.

    For those interested I have included some images of Omphalotus nidiformis and an open source article that explores the way the fungi glow.

    The Hunter Region Botanic Gardens have organised walks for the past few years although last year was abandoned because of lack of reasonably sized fruit and the very short term nature of the ones present probably due to the lack of Autumn rain.

    In organising walks, there is quite short notice as there a couple of factors at work:

    1. It means a night time visit to the Gardens and guides organised.
    2. It is best held on a moonless night...not always possible
    3. Sometimes the fungi are apparent for relatively short periods so people have to be ready to come at a moment's notice.
    4. Some visitors just want to walk around and find the fungi…others wish to try their hand at photography which has its own challenges. Because the two groups are not compatible, generally two different night walks are organised or the photographers descend after those that are only interested in seeing them have left. This often means a fairly late night and sometimes standing with an umbrella over the tripod and camera (photographers can be committed sometimes...or ought to be). 

    It is a strange feeling to walk around in the dark and see these glowing fruiting bodies dotted through the bush. How bright they are depends entirely on the amount of darkness.

    Photographing the fungi can be challenging as there are long exposures involved and the actual glowing is not as bright in reality as the images depict.

    They are best observed on a moonless night and using a tripod, complete darkness and no lights or movement near the tripod. Exposures vary according to conditions but can be 20 mins or more. It's a challenge but the results can be worth the effort.

    If anyone is interested in a walk it is essential to be on a list and be prepared to come with short notice. Those wishing to attend should keep an eye on the Hunter Region Botanic Gardens face book page accessible from the web page (www.huntergardens.org.au)

    It is also worth a walk in your local bush at night because there are a number of species of bioluminescent fungi around, not only the Omphalotis……there are a number of these and other fungi in the Watagan Forests near Lake Macquarie that display bioluminescence.

    About fungi

    “A team of researchers from Russia, Brazil and Japan has uncovered the means by which two kinds of mushrooms glow in the dark, as evidenced in their paper published on the open-access site, Science Advances.

    Scientists have long been fascinated by organisms that produce their own light (bioluminescence) and research has led to an understanding of how the process works in many insects and seafaring organisms (and recently in a frog). But how it works in fungi has remained a mystery. In this new effort, the researchers have finally solved that mystery.

    Prior research has found just 80 species of fungi that are bioluminescent out of approximately 100,000 around the globe. It is believed that such fungi glow in the dark to attract wasps, beetles, flies, ants and other creatures—spores adhere to their bodies and are carried to other places, colonising new territory.

    The new research showed that bioluminescence occurred in the mushrooms when luciferin molecules interacted with a luciferase enzyme in the presence of oxygen—the reaction resulted in the production of a light-emitting substance called oxyluciferin. Over time, the oxyluciferin released its oxygen bringing the luciferin back to its ground state. The process repeated, allowing the mushrooms to emit light in the presence of oxygen. The team also found that luciferase in fungi appeared to be what they describe as "promiscuous," because it interacts with a multitude of luciferin molecule derivatives. They also found that they could change the colours emitted by a slurry of ground-up mushroom parts by changing the amount of luciferin in the mix, which suggests they may be useful in synthetic form in human applications such as imaging research—luciferase could potentially be used as a reporter gene in genetic research, for example.”

    Learning more about how nature produces bioluminescence has already led to applications in human endeavours—bio-researchers, for example, use them to aid in tracking cells to learn more about biological processes."

    Read more at: https://phys.org/news/2017-04-mushrooms.html#jCp


  • 2 Apr 2019 11:13 AM | HEATHER MILES (Administrator)

    One of our members, Kevin Stokes from Newcastle, has brought to our attention a new book called Native Terrestrial Orchids of the Hunter Region Botanic Gardens, by Lynda McPherson. 

    The Hunter Region Botanic Gardens is 130 hectares, much of which is pristine bushland. This expansive natural area, together with the sandy soil, is the perfect environment for native terrestrial orchids. Over 5 years, as Lynda discovered the orchids, she photographed, documented and then painted them in this lovely book, which illustrates and describes 26 species of native terrestrial orchids occurring naturally in the gardens. 

    Another fascinating inclusion is the Aboriginal uses of native terrestrial orchids. Flowering times and locations are included in the book, as well as a section for new explorers to write down their own observations, whether it be flora or fauna. 

    The end result is intended to encourage and inspire people of all ages to explore the natural bushland both in the gardens as well as more widely.  

    Lynda has also been accepted to exhibit at Botanica, Australia’s leading contemporary botanical art exhibition.

    The annual showcase, now in its 20th year, features work by some of the best Australian and international established and emerging botanic and natural history artists, Botanica is considered one of the foremost exhibitions of its kind.

    Botanica is showing at the Royal Botanic Garden’s Lion Gate Lodge garden, Sydney, from 30 March.

    Lynda's beautiful watercolour, Flame Pea, is shown below: 


  • 19 Mar 2019 9:54 PM | HEATHER MILES (Administrator)

    Bob Ross’ mention of the Flying Duck Orchid in the October 2018 issue of Native Plants for New South Wales reminded me of a piece I wrote some years ago for the Chefs Cap: newsletter of the Eurobodalla Regional Botanic Garden at Batemans Bay.  This is an edited version.

    There are many strange, interesting and beautiful ground orchids common on the NSW south coast, but none so delightful, appealing and downright cute as Caleana major, the Flying duck orchid.

    I know a lady from Dalmeny who is fascinated by Australian orchids.  She (and her husband and family) have spent many hours searching their local forests and grasslands for ground and epiphytic orchid species.  Her orchid specimens are a valuable part of the Wallace Herbarium (ERBG) collection.  The Bodalla Forest Park has been a favourite hunting ground for quite some time; in fact, she has written about her experiences there. 

    Early in October she phoned me with news of a colony of Flying duck orchids she and her husband had found just off the Princes Highway, opposite the entrance to Brou Tip (a bit north of Dalmeny).  Never having seen this orchid in the flesh, so to speak, at first opportunity I hastened down the Highway to try and locate it.  I had been given some pointers to follow, and in due course I found these.  But in spite of an hour’s searching, no Flying ducks.  Time had run out and I had to return home.

    A phone call, asking for more directions.  A few days later, I drove down to the tip area again.  I was told that the orchids are rather small and grow in very dry, gravelly places, and that the first one is very difficult to find, but once the sightlines are established, others appear as if by magic.  After another fruitless hour, I was thoroughly disgusted and on the point of going home, when I spied a single maroon orchid leaf in among fallen dry stringybark leaves.  Suddenly, near the gravelly base of the tree (that had been left like a little hillock around the tree trunk after gravel had been removed from the site) I could see a little dark red/brown stem about 8cm tall with an orchid flower on top.  Then there was another, and another, and another.  I had found the Flying duck orchids!!

    I was astonished at the delicate, intricate form of the flower; a form that is highly specialised to attract insects for pollination.  The lower part is somewhat cup shaped and contains nectar, while above this and connected by a flat tensioned straplike appendage, is the ‘duck’ head that contains the pollination mechanism.  When an insect lands on the cup – attracted by the nectar – the spring is activated and the ‘duck’ head snaps down, depositing pollen on the back of the insect.  After a little while, the spring releases and the insect is free to fly away to another flower, thus transferring the pollen.  The photograph, from Sydney Coast Walks, is a good illustration of the flower parts involved in this procedure. It is an amazing process, evolved over untold years, wonderfully simple, yet incredibly complicated.

    I could not keep this find to myself, so I rang an acquaintance in Canberra who is interested in orchids.  “I must see them”, she cried, and forthwith arranged to meet me at the spot the next weekend, postponing all her normal Saturday activities.  Photographs were taken, and suitable expressions of wonder uttered.  Others were shown the orchids, and these in turn showed their partners and friends.  

    All of these people shared my pleasure in these unusual and charming members of the fascinating world of plants. 

  • 3 Mar 2019 10:38 AM | HEATHER MILES (Administrator)

    The Australian Plants Society SA is hosting its next Expo and Plants Sale on 13 and 14 April at the Adelaide Showgrounds.

    
The theme is smaller plants and groundcovers with workshops on:

    • Propagation
    • Sustainable Gardening in the Australian garden with Sam Glazbrook
    • Gardening in a small Space - Local Natives for Courtyards, Patios and Hanging baskets with Brett Oakes
    • Native grasses (with emphasis on ornamental use) with Greg Kirby
    • Small Plants and Ground Covers with Ian Trigg

    In addition, there is likely to be a session on building a native bee hotel! Here is a flyer with further details of the event. 

    A list of the plants expected to be on sale and the finalised program will be posted to SA's website prior to the sale.

  • 21 Feb 2019 8:30 PM | HEATHER MILES (Administrator)

    This article was contributed by Andrew Pengelly of the Hunter Valley Group and appeared in their newsletter, Gumleaves. 

    As a way of escaping extreme December heat, as well as to participate in a plant collecting trip for the Hunter Region Botanic Gardens, we headed up to Barrington Tops National Park, observing the change in temp from 35C in the valley to 26C an hour later, at an elevation above 1400m. The plan was to camp the night at Polblue camping area, then meet our collecting colleagues there in the morning. 

    Along with the camping and picnic area, Polblue has a significant peat bog, surrounded by sub-alpine flora. This area is not only of great ecological significance, it also harbours a number of rare and threatened plants, including two species of mountain pepper, Tasmannia purpurescens and T. glaucifolia (fragrant pepperbush) - see above.   

    Around the campsite we found an abundance of flowering veined doubletail orchids (Diuris venosa), another threatened species. (see left) 

    There is a good walking track around the peat bog, however it is a surprise to find large piles of horse manure along the track. I took a short stroll into the peat bog and found plenty of large hoof prints deeply embedded in the soft ground. Our guide Bill Dowling indicated there are around 100 feral horses in the area, certainly one of the threats to this world heritage wilderness site. 

    As we progressed slowly along the track at botanist speed, another major threat is ever-present, the introduced Scotch broom (Cytisus scoparius), a declared noxious weed. While it is a reasonably attractive plant with its’ buttercup yellow pea flowers and bright green pods, this species looms as the greatest threat to the stability of this fragile wilderness. 

    After a lunch break we drove a little way north to another section of Polblue creek, known habitat for the rare silver tea tree (Leptospermum argenteum) and two threatened species of plantain (Plantago spp.)

    We disturbed a wild pig, another environmental threat to the region, and we did find some silver tea tree on the creek bank although it was visibly in the process of being squeezed out by the broom. A few specimens of T. glaucifolia on the edge of the creek were also being overwhelmed by the broom. See image to right with T. glaucifolia is being overwhelmed by Scotch broom (see right). 

    The continuing spread of this invasive weed is a massive problem. At Polblue hundreds of seedlings can be seen emerging in places both inside and outside of the walking trail, making a mockery of attempts at controlling this species with herbicide. In fact, I learned that the spray program was put on hold after it was discovered that around 100 T. glaucifola specimens were accidentally poisoned. 

    I do have major concerns about the use of herbicide on such a large scale, as we know that much of the residue will end up in the waterways, and ultimately the Hunter River. Physical control by digging out the plants could work in theory, but the scale of the problem means hundreds of workers would be required for an extended period, an idea that is clearly impracticable. See image to left - Cytisus dead and alive

    Late in the day as we headed back down into the valley and the heat I had very mixed feelings. On the one hand, it is a beautiful area with so much more to explore and a selection of rare and interesting plant species. On the other hand I felt a sense of despair – it is hard to imagine that within the foreseeable future the peat bog won’t be overrun with Scotch broom, just as the nearby creeks and woodlands are already. 

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