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  • 22 Sep 2019 10:05 PM | enewsletter Editor (Administrator)

    Warren and Gloria Sheather were awarded Life Membership of APS NSW in 2018. Warren died in August 2019. This text is based on the nomination by APS Armidale Group.

    Warren SheatherWarren Sheather at the APS Christmas party, 2017

    The early days

    Warren and Gloria joined Blue Mountains Group and worked in Glenbrook Native Plant Reserve when it was first established.

    On moving to Armidale they were foundation members of the New England Group when it was formed in August 1977. Warren held positions as seedbank officer, vice president and president.

    In his work, Warren was initially in the PMG and later in the Navy as a civilian working in electronics. He followed his interest in native plants to become a ranger at Warrumbungles National Park and was later a ranger at New England National Park.

    Working at UNE

    As the Sheather family grew older, they moved to Armidale to be closer to schools for their children. Warren took up a position as Professional Officer in the Department of Botany at the University of New England. He continued his association with National Parks, serving on the Advisory Service. He also completed a Bachelor of Arts majoring in botany at UNE.

    At UNE, Warren ran lunchtime teaching sessions in a voluntary capacity, for the staff and students, on native plant propagation. He also worked with the UNE administration to plant out the grounds with native plants, many of which he grew himself.

    Promoting Australian plants to the community

    Warren promoted Australian plants continually throughout his life. He had a fortnightly column in the local newspaper, the Armidale Express, for over 30 years. He also wrote articles for other papers. His articles explored species suitable for local conditions with details of their natural distribution and growing conditions. For over 20 years, Warren had a fortnightly half hour session on ABC Saturday Gardening where he answered questions on air and discussed the propagation and cultivation of native plants. He has been a popular guest speaker for many community groups.

    He maintained his own website for over 25 years, where he has over 500 items about Australian plants, wildlife and National Parks. He maintained an online diary about what was happening in his garden and a photography collection with a commentary on how to grow native plants.

    The Sheathers developed a 5 acre hobby block to the west of Armidale at Invergowrie where they planted an enormous number of species. This block also served as an inspiration for those seeking to learn how to revegetate after the 1970s Eucalyptus dieback.

    They then moved to Yallaroo where they continued to propagate and cultivate Australian plants. This garden was visited regularly by many different community groups. Warren and Gloria received the Golden Spade award from Peter Cundall of ABC Gardening Australia. Their property has served as a practical demonstration of what can be achieved with local flora.

    Warren and Gloria have been "Australian plants" for northern NSW for 40 years, increasing the awareness and knowledge of Australian plants, fostering the growing of Australian plants, protecting and conserving Australian plants.

  • 19 Sep 2019 9:19 PM | enewsletter Editor (Administrator)

    Paddy Lightfoot, member of APS Newcastle Group and Director of the Australian Flora Foundation, explains current research projects.

    As members know, Newcastle Group of the Australian Plants Society supports the Australian Flora Foundation with an annual donation.

    The Australian Flora Foundation is a not for profit charity which supports research into Australian plants. The Council consist of academic botanical specialists as well as three members of the Australian Plants Society – Ross Smyth-Kirk, Ian Cox and myself.

    We meet three times a year at the University of Sydney. Our brief is to provide grants for research projects. This year we have approved grants for the following projects – all involving restoration of the much-degraded Australian environment. This is to a large extent due to habitat clearing with European farming practices introduced over the past two centuries plus climate change with increasing fires.


    Seedling establishment for the endangered Whibley Wattle (Acacia whibleyana) –Jasmin Packer

    This wattle was a new species to me. I am going to try to obtain seed from the Acacia Study Group.  It grows on the Eyre peninsula in South Australia, sometimes close to salt swamps. It grows to about two metres tall. Golden pods of flower look impressive in photos. Could be a good garden plant. It is coastal so may be worth a try in suburbs close to the ocean?

    Understanding seed and reproductive biology of Geijera parviflora or Wilga – Ganesha Borala Liyanage

    Understanding seed biology is important for its conservation and restoration.

    I remember very well the Wilga growing on my uncle’s property at Breeza on the Liverpool Plains – at present due to be cleared for a coal mine by the Chinese  company Shenhua.

    Wilgas are small trees or bushes found in inland parts of eastern Australia. Some farmers call it sheepbush or dogwood. It has small white flowers and is a member of the citrus family. The flowers have a citrus smell and are insect attracting. Regeneration from fresh seed has proved difficult.

    It is a useful fodder tree for farmers as well as providing stock with shade.

    The tree prefers full sun itself. Although slow growing it is planted in Australia and overseas as an ornamental. 

    Apparently First Nations peoples used the leaves as an anaesthetic for toothache!


    Fire ecology and management of North Australian sandstone heath vegetation – Harry MacDermott (PhD student)

    With increasing fires due to climate change and the altered fire occurrences in our north, understanding the ongoing, as well as forecasted, damage is very important for our country.


    Investigating the seed biology of sedges (Cyperaceae) for the restoration of wetlands – Jenny Guerin

    This is a project that should be of interest to Newcastle Group. After all we meet at The Wetlands Centre Australia (HWCA) and do our propagation in the nursery here.

    An alarming statistic is that 50% of the world’s wetlands have been destroyed in the past 100 years. There are 900 nationally recognised wetlands in Australia and 64 world recognised Ramsar Sites. Hunter Wetlands Centre Australia is one of these sites! We are involved in reclaiming rugby fields for a swamp – first in the world!


    You can support research too!

    I am sure members will agree these are great projects and, although Newcastle Group donates annually, please feel free to make individual tax deductible donations at the website:

    Australian Flora Foundation

    PO Box 846

    Willoughby NSW 2068.  

    Remember 100% of donations go directly to research, and all work by the AFF Council is voluntary!

  • 5 Sep 2019 8:40 PM | enewsletter Editor (Administrator)

    Virginia McIntosh from APS Central Coast Group reports on creating a garden at Phillip House, Kariong. Virginia was the coordinator of the working bee.

    You want us to plant a native garden? Oh YES!

    And the story goes...

    Kerry, a Rotary member and manager of Phillip House Kariong, approached us, APS Central Coast, to plant a native garden at the entrance to the building. We were more than happy to oblige as we hold our meetings there and who doesn’t love to plant natives!! The entrance had recently been remodelled to accommodate disabled people.

    The entry – Before

    The working bee

    After some discussion re design, time to plant and creating a list of suitable plants, we formed a working bee for Saturday 13 July 2019. We timed it nicely to fit in with a sausage sizzle lunch happily and kindly provided by Rotary. Thank you Kerry and mates! And after lunch we had our monthly meeting. A long but enjoyable day.

    As the area had already been mulched, the day began with Jonathan Steeds and Olga Blacha from Sustainable Natives delivering some decent sized rocks kindly donated by Steve Jones from Grants Road Sands in Somersby. With great dexterity Jonathan rolled these off his truck and man-handled them into position! No injuries....phew!

    The plants

    Then came the planting. Sustainable Natives van's doors opened to reveal a treasure trove of goodies ......oooh how exciting! All donated by Sustainable Natives – fantastic! Here is the list:

    Dianella ‘Silver Streak’ and caerulea; Lomandra ‘Little Con’, ‘Little Pat’ and ‘LimeTuff’; Grevillea ‘Dorothy Gordon'; Banksia integrifolia ‘prostrate form’, oblongifolia, ericifolia, ‘Little Eric’,and spinulosa; Veronica perfoliata; Melaleuca ‘Ulladulla Beacon’ and hypericifolia; Correa reflexa; Darwinia fascicularis; Chorizema cordatum; Scaevola ‘Mauve Cluster’; Leptospermum ’Vertical Drop’; Dwarf Leucopogon; Micromyrtus ciliata; Thryptomene P.C.Payne; Grevillea oldeii, humilis, ‘Pink Gem’, speciosa X and sericea; Patersonia occidentalis; Anigozanthos ‘Big Red’ and ‘Pink Pearl’; Acacia howittii dwarf; Westringia ‘Smokey’; Prostanthera incisa and magnifica; Podocarpus spinulosus; Pycnosorus globosus; Isopogon anethifolius dwarf; Petrophile pulchella; Goodenia mcmillanii; Callistemon ‘Rocky rambler’; Casuarina ‘Cousin It’. Hopefully I haven’t left any out – think I may have but just too many to remember! Anyway you get the drift.

    A production line

    Olga, being a landscape designer, and Jonathan had already laid the plants out ready for planting so we set up a production line of hole diggers, planters, waterers and pot collectors. After a final watering in, we left our little proteges while we gorged ourselves on sausage sandwiches!

    The OHS site supervisor doing her job, dressed in blue coat and red collar!

    Olga Blacha watering

    Feeding the workers with a BBQ

    Finishing up

    Fully satisfied we headed into our monthly meeting and left my husband, Stuart, to erect a ‘rabbit proof fence’ around the perimeters of the two gardens. Don’t worry, he didn’t mind – he usually falls asleep in meetings!

    Protecting the new garden 

    Being on an eastern, gently sloping block with buildings uphill and thus to the west helps ensure plant survival. Rotary have taken on the responsibility of caring for the garden and each time we walk by we can enjoy the fruits of our labours and the benefits of Rotary’s maintenance. Hopefully others who use the path are suitably impressed and are converted by the beauty and resilience of Australian native plants. A win win all round!

    Do you like our garden gnome??!!

  • 5 Sep 2019 8:27 PM | enewsletter Editor (Administrator)

    Ralph Cartwright from APS Sutherland Group reports sightings in his Engadine backyard in early spring.


    I have seen both Eastern Rosellas and King Parrots eating the fruits of my lilli pilli and then coming onto the ground to feed on Grevillea mucronulata and Grevillea preisii.

    Rosella on lilli pilli

    The Kookaburra liked my Acacia vestita to perch in to look for frogs after the recent rains.

    Kookaburra on Acacia vestita


    My Citrus australasica (finger lime) is in full flower now and I saw European honey bees feeding, as well as a very cleverly disguised green bug, which appeared to be either eating the stamens or cutting them at the base, possibly to feed on nectar at the base or get at the ovary?

    Honey bee in finger lime flower

    Green bug on finger lime

    I went back later to check and found the flower to be almost completely destroyed. Two of the petals had gone, plus most of the stamens and the ovary.

    I cut off another flower nearby which was fully open and brought it inside to photograph. It did not appear to have any nectar and I could taste nothing when I destroyed the flower in the name of science. Just a slight citrusy smell when squeezed.

  • 30 Aug 2019 8:34 AM | enewsletter Editor (Administrator)

    The following review by Andrew Pengelly first appeared in Gumleaves June 2019, the newsletter of APS Hunter Valley Group and is reproduced with permission.

    Flora of the Hunter Region

    Stephen Bell, Christine Rockley and Anne Llewellyn

    Cover of Flora of Hunter RegionThis is a remarkable publication, given that it provides detailed and authoritative botanical monographs of 54 trees and shrubs that are endemic to the Hunter region, each one of which is accompanied by a full-page scientific illustration.

    The lead author, Dr Stephen Bell, is probably the leading botanist in the region, having undertaken countless plant surveys over the last 25 years.

    The fact that the other two co-authors, Christine Rockley and Dr Anne Llewellyn, are both scientific illustrators, demonstrates the significance placed on the illustration component of this book. In fact as many as 20 different illustrators were used, all alumni of the Bachelor of Natural History program at the University of Newcastle.

    Each monograph contains the full nomenclature and etymology (origin of the botanical name), distribution (with map) and known reservation plus location of the “type” specimen, habitat including a long list of species it occurs with, flowering period, affinities with similar species and hints on differentiating them, key diagnostic features, conservation status, plus a protologue ie the original material associated with a newly published name, comprising detailed botanical descriptions.

    Potential health promoting species of interest are the Pokolbin mallee (Eucalyptus pumila), the North Rothbury Persoonia (Persoonia pauciflora) and the broad-leaved pepperbush (Tasmannia purpurascens). There are some entries for species of interest from the point of view of their essential oil potential, but given that many of them are threatened or of limited distribution, they aren’t readily available for distillation. One such species is Prostanthera cineolifera, so named by Baker and Smith (pioneers of essential oil analysis of Australian plants) because it contains 1,8-cineole, giving off a eucalyptus-like fragrance. This species grows in a limited range centred around the Brokenback Range.

    Additional information provided includes a glossary, an ecological and taxonomic bibliography, specimen collection locations plus coordinates (latitude/longitude) for locations mentioned and conservation assessments for each species.

    Back cover of Flora of Hunter Region

    The full title is Flora of the Hunter Region. Endemic Trees and Larger Shrubs, published by CSIRO Clayton Vic, 2019. A second volume is in preparation, which will include herbs, grasses, orchids and other smaller plants. The recommended retail is A$80, however it has apparently already sold out, so we wait for the next printing.

    This book is a must for native plant enthusiasts in the Hunter region, and for people anywhere who enjoy botanical artistry.

    Dr Andrew Bell at APS NSW Newcastle get together, 17 August 2019 (photo Kevin Stokes)

  • 27 Aug 2019 11:03 AM | enewsletter Editor (Administrator)

    Many members enjoyed the APS NSW get together hosted by Newcastle Group on 17–18 August 2019 with a program of highlights of the area. Thanks to Newcastle Group including President Mark Abell and Secretary Maree McCarthy and all the volunteers who made the weekend so successful. Photos by Kevin Stokes, Newcastle Group (unless noted).

    Registering for the weekend

    APS NSW President John Aitken and wife Liz

    Flora of the Hunter region

    Dr Stephen Bell from University of Newcastle gave a presentation on endemic flora of the Hunter region based on his new book Flora of the Hunter Region.

    Dr Stephen Bell

    Hunter Region Botanic Gardens, Heatherbrae

    We then had guided walks of the volunteer-run gardens which have many theme areas from acacias to rainforest. It's a great place to stop while travelling through Newcastle, with a cafe.

    More information: and

    Inspecting Parry Place at the Hunter Region Botanic Gardens

    Port Stephens walks

    To explore the coastal wildflowers and scenery of the Port Stephens area further, there are many more walks documented in the Bushwalks around Port Stephens brochure:

    Awabakal Nature Reserve

    Looking north

     A group enjoying the view (photo Rhonda Daniels)

    Amongst the spectacular coastal scenery were several species of orchids.

    Lyperanthus suaveolens

    Lyperanthus suaveolens

    Glenrock Scout camp, Glenrock

    We visited Glenrock Scout camp with a guided tour of the garden created on a very difficult site, at the entrance to an old mine, by 2018 ABC Gardener of the year John Le Messurier. 

    Glenrock Scout Camp

    John Le Messurier showing the gardens to the group

    Mark Abell and John Messurier

    APS Newcastle Group President Mark Abell presenting a Eucalyptus pumila tube to John Le Messurier

    Ladies in red testing the human sun dial for accuracy at Glenrock

    Hunter Wetlands Centre, Shortland

    The weekend finished with a guided walk at Hunter Wetlands Centre and plant sales from the Newcastle Group nursery.

    APS Newcastle Group has a long association with the Hunter Wetlands Centre which is where the group holds its meetings and runs a nursery and propagation area. Many of the plantings in the wetlands have been done by the group.

    It's another great place to drop in for a walk and cafe stop while travelling through Newcastle.

    More information:

  • 26 Aug 2019 11:51 AM | enewsletter Editor (Administrator)

    Cover of Winter 2019 Australian Plants

    The Winter 2019 issue of Australian Plants was mailed to members and subscribers in late August. Members of the Australian Plants Society NSW receive Australian Plants four times a year as part of their membership.

    The Winter issue is a theme issue on Gondwana and its legacy with articles on:

    • Gondwana – a global adventure
    • Family Proteaceae: a representative and well-known Gondwanan taxon
    • Plants of New Caledonia – a hotspot of endemism on a fragment of Gondwana
    • South American connections
    • Plants from the end of the world
    • Gondwana rainforest World Heritage Area
    • Inala Jurassic garden
    • Corrections to Australian Plants 2018/19 Vol. 29 No. 237 on Carnivorous plants.

  • 25 Aug 2019 7:08 PM | enewsletter Editor (Administrator)

    Riitta Boevink, President of Australian Native Plants Society (Australia), announces the 2019 winners of the Australian Plants Awards. The Awards will be presented at the ANPSA conference in Albany Western Australia, 29 September to 4 October 2019.

    2019 Australian Plants Awards

    Every two years two medals are given in association with the ANPSA Biennial Conference, one in the professional and one in the amateur category. “Amateur” is not intended to signify less valued or amateurish. On the contrary, the recipients invariably are people who have unstintingly given their time and made significant contribution in the area of their interest and expertise.

    Congratulations Professor Kingsley Dixon (Professional category)

    This year’s winner in the professional category is Professor Kingsley Dixon from Western Australia. He is a John Curtin Distinguished Professor in the Faculty of Science and Engineering in the School of Molecular and Life Sciences, Curtin University. The title of John Curtin Distinguished Professor is Curtin University’s highest honour for academic staff. Professor Dixon has a long list of memberships and positions held in organisations, both international and local. These include being a foundation member of Cambridge Coastcare and long serving committee member.

    Professor Dixon's research has resulted in WA being recognised as an international hub in mining environmental science. His enthusiasm for working with the mining industry in WA to promote excellence through science in minesite rehabilitation is most recently demonstrated by leadership of the $5.3 million BHP Billiton sponsored Restoration seed bank initiative, Directorship of the ARC Centre for Mining Restoration and recipient of the Golden Gecko Awards for Environmental Excellence.

    He has published 319 scientific works, including eight books. He has received numerous awards, including the Linnean Medal for Botany in 2013.

    Professor Dixon’s achievements include participating in the team at UWA and Murdoch University in the breakthrough discovery of the chemical in smoke responsible for germination of many Australian plants. His international profile in seed science and biology is world class and demonstrates how seed can be used to optimise restoration benefits that have resulted in a broad suite of industry and research support with25 industry and 16 nationally competitive grants.

    Congratulations Glenn Leiper (Amateur category)

    The winner in the amateur category is Glenn Leiper from Queensland. He has made an outstanding contribution to the study, propagation and conservation of Australian native plants, with emphasis on plants indigenous to the south east region of Queensland. Glenn began his career as a primary school teacher culminating in his appointment as the teacher in charge, then principal of the Jacobs Well Environmental Education Centre in the early 1980s. Since his retirement he has been able to focus on his passion for native plants. Together with co-authors Jan Glazenbrook, Denis Cox, and Kerry Rathie, Glenn has produced a comprehensive and user-friendly field guide to the native plants of South East Queensland, Mangroves to Mountains. The second edition, containing 200 species additional to the original, was released in 2017. As well as being a field guide, Mangroves to Mountains is a record of the native flora of the region, featuring Glenn’s spectacular photographs. Over 25,000 copies have been sold, reflecting its popularity with native plant enthusiasts.

    One of Glenn’s greatest achievements is the rediscovery and passionate protection of the thought-to-be -extinct Angle-Stemmed Myrtle (Gossia gonoclada). Charles Stuart first discovered Gossia gonoclada in Mogill in the 1850s. It was thought to have gone extinct in the 1880s. Glenn Leiper and Janet Hauser rediscovered the species in December 1986, stimulating interest in searching for more populations. Glenn also discovered populations of Gossia gonoclada at an area now known as Murray ‘s Reserve. Glenn then went on to advocate for Murray’s Reserve to be purchased by Logan City Council in the 1990s. Glenn has also made significant contributions to the development of botanic gardens in Queensland. He has collected and donated over 100 rare and threatened species to the Brisbane Botanic Gardens.

    Glenn maintains strong links with the local community through his work with Environmental Services Officers from the Logan City Council. Glenn joined SGAP QLD (Society for Growing Australian Plants, Queensland Region) – now called Native Plants Queensland – in the early 1980s. He is currently a Regional Councillor and the Conservation Officer. He joined the Logan River Branch in 2005 and has made a significant contribution, serving as secretary from 2011 to 2017. He frequently provides articles to the quarterly NPQ journal, always illustrated with numerous photographs.

  • 22 Aug 2019 5:30 PM | enewsletter Editor (Administrator)

    Ian Cox from APS Parramatta Hills Group shares his enthusiasm for the Eremophila genus.

    Eremophilas - they have it all!

    Which genus of native plants:

    ·      is quick growing and flowers early in its life?

    ·      looks good in gardens?

    ·      is hardy and drought-tolerant?

    ·      grows in a range of soil types?

    ·      is usually easy to propagate?

    Well, eremophilas tick all these boxes. They also have a great variety of flower and foliage colours and textures. In garden design they can be used as feature plants, backgrounds, foregrounds or edgings. They can also be grown in pots. Many of them flower for long periods and attract small birds.

    Eremophila youngii redf flowers

    Eremophila youngii (photo Brian Walters}

    Where can you get eremophilas?

    My own Group (Parramatta/Hills) has them for sale at meetings. In my locality, Plants Plus and Boongala Gardens have a small range. They can also be bought at the Collectors’ Plant Fair at Clarendon which is usually held in April each year. Another option is to buy them online, e.g. from the Australian Arid Lands Botanic Garden, Port Augusta. Another way is to join the Eremophila Study Group and participate in their exchange of plants and cuttings.

    How many eremophilas are there?

    A member of the Eremophila Study Group has compiled a spreadsheet with the names of all species, cultivars, hybrids and forms, together with photo links. The list has over 1,000 names!

    Eremophila maculata yellow

    Eremophila maculata yellow form (photo Brian Walters)

    Learning about eremophilas

    Perhaps the best way to increase your understanding of this genus is to join the Eremophila Study Group. The Sydney sub-branch of the Eremophila Study Group has regular meetings and an email discussion group. Its members include enthusiasts who enjoy sharing their incredible knowledge. At recent meetings we have had a grafting demonstration, a keying exercise, discussions about propagation and the usual garden inspections and swapping of plants and cuttings. Members also receive the Eremophila Study Group newsletter which is a first-class publication full of great information and stunning photos. Members also have the opportunity to attend interstate conferences and field trips.  The Eremophila Study Group’s website is here.

    Growing eremophilas in Sydney

    Many eremophilas grow well in Sydney on their own roots, especially the E. glabra and E. maculata forms and hybrids. There are lots of plants in this group to choose from, most of which would make a stunning addition to your garden. Some have fancy names like 'Pink Pantha' and 'Mallee Lipstick' just to make your imagination work overtime!

    Some eremophilas don’t like Sydney’s summer humidity and rain (when it does rain!), and the usual answer to this is to grow these particular eremophilas as grafted plants. You can either purchase grafted plants or graft them yourself, usually using a hardy Myoporum as the rootstock. The basics are not too difficult, and can be learned by joining the Eremophila Study Group.

    I’ve been growing eremophilas for close on 25 years and have been delighted with the results. In well-drained sunny positions eremophilas usually reward me for my efforts. The proportion of these plants in my garden has steadily increased, based solely on their good looks and overall performance. I have been fascinated and enthralled by their charm, and can thoroughly recommend them.

    Eremophila nivea-BW

    Eremophila nivea (photo Brian Walters)

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