Hi fellow members,
Much has happened this year and now that the weather is not that inviting outside it’s a good chance for me to prepare this bumper edition newsletter and in turn a chance for you to sit and have a good read about the goings on of our group. Hopefully you’ve managed to attend a meeting or go on one of our Saturday excursions sometime this year. If not read on and you can catch up. (Note : If you click on the title Newsletter 1 – 2016 you will be able to see an even bigger and grander version of this newsletter!)
What’s your favourite flowering Australian plant?
I hope to feature some photos and descriptions of your favourite flowering Australian plants as a regular feature each newsletter. To kick things off here’s a couple of photos from Karen’s and my garden. It’s a Banksia occidentalis, sometimes called red swamp banksia. What we love about it is that it gives you double the joy when it flowers. That’s because it starts out this beautiful greyish-green
and transforms into a lovely spear of red and gold.
We have it growing on a slope and in reasonably free draining soil. It was one of the first shrubs we planted at this property just over four years ago and it is frequently in flower, greeting visitors as they come up our driveway.
So now it’s over to you, our readers, what is your favourite flowering Australian plant right now? Send a photo, date of flowering and a brief description and I’ll aim to include some each newsletter. Email to me, ‘Attention Mark Allison’ at firstname.lastname@example.org
A large part of the rest of this newsletter will be reports from our meetings and excursions. However keep reading to the end as I have saved a treat for you. Thanks to Ray Turner, a lovely article and beautiful photos about Ray and Eva’s love of Verticordias.
Merricks Nursery Garden Maintenance Workshop
On Saturday 19th March just over 20 members attended a garden maintenance workshop at Merricks Nursery run in two parts by Richard Anderson and his offsider, Michael. Firstly Richard took the group around the property and showed us a couple of ways to maintain and revitalise plants. With his kangaroo paws he waits until flowering is completed then with a brushcutter cuts them back virtually to ground level. Then in early winter new growth from the rhizomes will begin. His treatment of grassy lomandras was even harsher. At his disposal he had a flamethrower and was able to burn the lomandras right back so that they would come back with renewed new growth.
Next we went into the workshop and Richard’s partner, Michael, demonstrated several ways of sharpening tools starting with shovels and spades.
Next Michael moved onto secateurs, hedge shears, knives and a variety of other cutting tools. Whilst doing this he was also able to show us a wide variety of sharpening tools, implements and stones at his disposal. This kept quite a few people busy noting these items and the stores in which they could be purchased. All in all it was an informative talk and demonstration.
After about an hour members were able to browse the nursery and make purchases.
Report – Mark Allison, Photos – Verena Reich
Rodger and Gwen Elliott were the guest speakers for the meeting held on Tuesday 23rd April. Their topic was growing and enjoying Australian bush food plants. They detailed a wide variety which had either edible leaves, flowers, seeds or roots. Plants of interest included –
Lemon scented myrtle (Backhousia citriodora) whose leaves are full of fragrant citrus scented oil. Grows best in slightly acidic soil.
River mint (Mentha australis) which has mint fragrant leaves. These grow well in a slightly shady location.
Round leaf mint bush (Prostanthera rotundifolia) can be used as a herb in meat and fish dishes or in potato salad. It is a quick grower and should be pruned after flowering.
Mountain pepper (Tasmannia lanceolata) has leaves and berries which are edible and can be used as an alternative to traditional pepper, perhaps in a stir-fry. They need acidic soils and a semi shaded site.
Warrigal greens (Tetragonia tetragonioides) can be eaten as a leafy vegetable. Due to high oxalate levels it should be blanched then rinsed in cold water before cooking again. It is carpet like in growth and makes a good groundcover.
Plants whose flowers can be used included Banksia marginata and Viola hederacea. By soaking flowers from banksia marginata in water a honey flavoured drink can result. The flowers from Viola hederacea are suitable for cake decoration.
The next section of their talk centred on edible fruits. The fruit from the Lilly Pilly can be eaten raw but is a good addition to muesli or can be used in pies or preserves. Davidson’s Plum (Davidsonia pruriens has very tasty and good sized fruits high in vitamin C.
Another obvious choice was the macadamia nut (Macadamia integrifolia or M. tetraphylla) and of course wattle seeds can be baked and ground to provide a useful powder that can be used in baking.
Finally plants with edible roots or tubers were touched on. The pale vanilla lily (Arthropodium milleflorium), nodding greenhood orchid, chocolate orchid and murnong (Microseris lanceolata) which provides a tuber which is better cooked than raw, were all mentioned. Probably an acquired taste!
Words – Karen and Mark Allison
Out second annual plant sale was held again at Seawind in Arthurs Seat. Several local growers, Sun Valley Plants, AustPlant, Friends of Seawinds, Merricks Nursery as well as Vaughans’ Nursery from the Grampians were in attendance and received excellent customerage. Our information stand was also well visited.
Words – Mark Allison, Photo – Karen Allison
Melton Botanic Gardens Excursion
On Saturday 21st May a busload of 24 plus a few in private cars made the trip out west to the Melton Botanic Gardens. Proceedings started with a lovely welcoming morning tea and a brief introduction by David Pye about the history and structure of the gardens. Built along Ryans Creek and the adjoining lake with its bird sanctuary island the garden has an extensive eucalyptus arboretum, indigenous plant section, a children’s garden, a Californian, Central and South American specialising in succulents, an Australian dryland garden, a Mediterranean section, South African section, Victorian Volcanic Plains garden, indigenous grassland section, as well as South and Western Australian sections.
After that we split up into two groups led by Barbara and David Pye with assistance by other members of the Friends of Melton Botanic Gardens for a tour of the gardens.
It was an excellent time to be there if you are a fan of eucalypts. We were treated to some beautiful specimens in full flower.
The Eucalyptus kingsmillii may not have been in flower but its seed pods were equally impressive.
Suitable soils/gravels/sands have been sourced and imported to provide the best possible growing conditions for a number of the other specialised gardens. The next photo is a good example of this.
Signage was excellent and included scannable barcodes for mobile phone users to access further information.
At the far end of the gardens a group of indigenous locals were working on a new project. From there our return walk came along Ryans Creek and its billabong.
The opportunity to make purchases from the attached nursery, managed by Margaret Cook and her fellow volunteers, was appreciated by many members. The Friends of Melton Botanic Garden are certainly keen propagators.
After stocking up a picnic lunch was a peaceful way to conclude the visit before the bus trip back to the Mornington Peninsula.
Perhaps a spring time visit would be enable us to see other sections of the garden in bloom.
Report and photos – Mark Allison
Our guest speaker for the Tuesday evening meeting held on June 21st was the knowledgable and entertaining Attila Kapitary. He was ably supported by an extensive PowerPoint slideshow showing photos of Australian succulents spotted on his many ventures into arid and drier parts of Australia. Names such as Adonsonia, Calandrinia, Carpobrotus and Dioscorea and Portulaca may not have been familiar to many of us but given that many of these are edible it was worth hearing and learning about them.
At the conclusion of Attila’s talk we had the opportunity to admire his wonderful display of succulents, some Australian and some from other countries. Some members availed themselves of the chance to make some purchases. As Attila had pointed out the advantages and ease of growing succulents from cuttings many were keen to have a go themselves.
More information – www.australiansucculents.com
Report – Mark Allison, Photo – Michelle Kapitany
Saturday 16th July saw our group in Frankston as guests of the Friends of Sweetwater Creek. Proceedings started with a welcoming morning tea
followed by a brief talk by spokesperson, Sally Hammond, focusing on the history and activities of the Friends of Sweetwater Creek.
The main action followed with a guided walk along some of the paths within the reserve.
Plantings and areas of bushland regenerated by burning off were highlighted as we went along.
Sweetwater Creek Reserve is a very peaceful place and offers several kilometres of walking tracks so if you couldn’t come on the day why not go for a visit next sunny day.
More information – www.sweetwatercreek.org.au
Report – Mark Allison, Photos – Verena Reich
Verticordias – The Turner of Hearts