Group News 2021
Walk Cranstons Trail Middle Dural - Saturday 23 October
This was our first face-to-face activity after the easing of restrictions. Members were obviously keen to get out and about, as there were 22 of us on the walk.
Boronia pinnata. Photo Lesley Waite
This was our last walk for this year. We will be out again next year when the summer is over.
Isopogon anemonifolius. Photo Lesley Waite
BUSHWALK along QUARRY ROAD FIRE TRAIL June 2O21
On 26th June thirteen members collected at the end of Quarry Road, Dural, on a fine, cool afternoon. From there the Quarry Road fire trail extends to Berowra Creek in the Eloura Bushland, not that any of our walks would go that far. There is too much to see and admire along this sandy ridge top.
This ridge supports a huge number of plant species. Being before midwinter, we did not expect to see as many flowers, and we were pleased to see more than expected. This trail is known for its banksias and B. marginata, B. spinulosa and B. ericifolia lit up the roadside bush. Flowers were seen on many other species; such as Acacia ulicifolia and A. suaveolens, Woollsia pungens, Epacris pulchella, Grevillea speciosa and Bossiaea heterophylla. Others were in full bud, such as Bossiaea scolopendria, Grevillea buxifolia and Phyllota phylicoides.
Tony Maxwell had provided a list of likely species prepared from internet sites like ALA (Atlas of Living Australia). We added many more to the list.
This walk was a very good exercise in the recognition of native plants from foliage appearances and form. It was greatly enjoyed by all our very observant members.
Plants Identified on the Walk
F = some flowers seen
Propagation Workshop led by Lesley Waite - 22 May 2021
Thank you, Lesley Waite, for your wonderful presentation at our May meeting about plant propagation by cuttings.
The demonstration was full of interest and information. It was interactive, with many comments and suggestions coming from the keen and attentive audience gathered around the table.
Lane Cove Bushland Park walk - Saturday 24 April 2021
Eleven Parra Hills members gathered for this walk in an amazing pocket of bushland only 10 kilometres from the Sydney CBD. The park is very small (9 hectares) and is mostly covered by warm temperate wet sclerophyll forest. In some sections only 10% of sunlight reaches the understorey. The park is very steep and surrounded by urban areas. You are completely unaware of the houses in the surrounding streets once you descend into the gully. The gully flows into Gore Creek which flows into Sydney Harbour less than one kilometre from the park.
We decided to visit the park because we had heard Ray Kearney give a talk about the fungi in the park at one of our meetings in 2019. His observations in the park had led to the discovery of fungi from the Hygrophoraceae family particularly the Hygrocybe species.
However, there were plenty of other interesting plants to see. Many ferns flourish in the moist shady environment. I was particularly fascinated by one of the ground ferns, Hypolepis muelleri , which creeps over rocks with very slender rhizomes.
Most of our walks are in the local Hawkesbury sandstone country so it was a challenge for us to see so many rainforest plants. Fortunately we have members who were able to help with the identification of these species. Some of these were Cabbage Tree Palms (Livistona australis), Native Guava (Eupomatia laurina) with fruits, creepers such as Smilax australis, Tylophora barbata, Geitonoplesium cymosum and Native Passionfruit (Passiflora herbertiana).
Tony Maxwell again prepared plant lists for the walk and we were able to add some additional species to these lists. (see Resources page)
VISIT to BONGALA GARDENS in KENTHURST - 27 March 2021
On a sunny afternoon in March, twelve members of ParraHills APS group visited Boongala Gardens. This is an amazing native garden created over many years by Mal and Jenny Johnston. The land was previously totally-cleared farming land, and the transformation required a huge amount of work.
A large variety of native plants are featured, growing on raised elongated mounds. Visitors meander along sinuous grass areas, each corner revealing a new combination of plants. Being autumn, most were not in flower, but there was some colour particularly from the multitude of grafted grevilleas, Banksia spinulosa and Hibiscus germanioides. Grevillea ‘Golden Lyre’ was in full bloom, and many others had some flowers. Interestingly this garden exhibits many of the older, no-longer-sold hybrids discussed by Peter Olde in the recent online talk. For example, Grevillea ‘Ivory Whip’ was flowering well. There is no need for masses of flowers to make a garden interesting, not if you have bottle trees, Eucalyptus ficifolia covered in large gumnuts, and specimens of Dorianthes excelsa with huge flower spikes.
Scattered around the garden are old farm implements, rusting sedately. Mal is very interested and knowledgeable about early Australian history. He has constructed a little slab hut displaying more historic wares, convict bricks, photos and so forth. He also has hives of native, stingless bees.
SYMBIOTIC RELATIONSHIP between NATIVE WOODLANS PLANTS and NATIVE WOODLAND BIRDS - 27 Feb 2021
Australian King Parrot [male] at nest hole Woodford 22/07/2020
Most birds nest in trees where height above the ground gives increased protection from predators. Nesting materials include bark, moss, leaves and twigs, grass, roots, cobwebs, mud and feathers. Most birds chose a nest site very carefully. Many have nests which blend in with the surrounds, and often the colouring on the bird’s head and back is good camouflage making them harder to spot by predatory carnivorous birds, while they are sitting on their eggs. Some species nest on hollows on old growth trees. It can take 100 years for a tree to have hollows created when dead limbs fall. This is why retaining old-growth forest is so important for birds, and why replanting trees will not adequately replace old trees for a very long time. In most species the male finds a suitable nesting hollow and then will call and/or display to advertise it, trying to attract a female partner. Nest boxes are not adequate replacements for tree hollows, as they lack the insulation provided by a tree branch. Eggs and nestlings are very sensitive to changes in temperature and easily killed if the nest is not insulated adequately.
Native Plants for Pots and Containers 27-06-20
On 27th June we had our first group meeting via Zoom. Our guest speaker was Brian Roach, from Westleigh Native Plants. With decreasing size of house blocks and increasing numbers of people living in units and retirement villages, this topic is very relevant. It is also possible to grow some of the difficult-to-grow species in a pot because you can control the growing environment more easily than for plants in the ground. There is the chance to grow some of the desirable Western Australian species. Having plants in pots means that you can move them around, to take advantage of sun and light, or move them out of the strongest sun in summer. You can also move that beautiful plant in full flower to a spot where you can see it better and show it off to visitors. Maybe a difficult plant can be left where you can check on it easily and control the watering more closely. There are other containers you can use instead of pots, eg lengths of old clay piping left over from a plumbing job. These can be partly buried to stabilise them.
Brian had some practical advice about pots. He especially warned us to avoid the urn-shaped pots which curve in at the top. The curve makes it almost impossible to tip the plant out in order to repot it when it outgrows its pot. He advocated purchasing a native pot mix then adding perlite and cocopeat. Some plants have larger root systems and eventually outgrow any pot. They need to be pensioned off or planted in the garden if appropriate. In general the smaller growing plants are the most suitable.
During the talk Brian showed great photos of the plants he has grown in pots. These included Pimelea linifolia, both Crowea exalata and saligna, some boronias and Lechanaultia biloba with its brilliant blue flowers. The latter demonstrates that pot culture can be successful for this prized Western Australian plant, which regularly dies in the ground in Sydney. Other species he featured were Darwinia taxifolia ssp macrolaena, the native Rhododendron viriosum (formally R. lochiae), Billardia leumanniana and Conostylis aurea. The last two species are also examples of floriferous Western Australian plants. Brian has registered some new names with the Australian Cultivar Authority for different and desirable variants of some species. One example is Homoranthus prolixus ‘Golditops’ which has masses of brilliant gold flowers. This form was found in northern NSW. More recently he has named a natural hybrid between Grevillea fililoba and hirtella found by Peter Olde in Western Australia. He called this small plant Grevillea ‘Butterfly Beauty” because the flowers look like crimson butterflies in the bush.
As usual Brian was an interesting and very knowledgeable speaker, much appreciated by those who logged in via Zoom.