Newsletter 1 -2017

Here’s our first newsletter for 2017. Hope you enjoy reading it over the Easter break.

Our Annual Plant Sale is coming up very soon. Hope to see you at Seawinds on Saturday, April 29th anytime from 10am until 3:30pm.

First up my regular feature highlighting what it is growing in our area each month.

Plant of the Month – January

Our Callistemon ‘Pink Champagne’ was certainly in beautiful bloom and very attractive to the bees back in January. It was planted about twelve months ago in quite heavy clay soil but is doing well so far.

Plant of the Month – February

During February very few plants in our garden were flowering. However a number of Grevilleas were the exception. This Grevillea semperflorens easily reinforces the nickname ‘spider’ that many Grevilleas are renowned for. It is in a very heavy clay soil, along with two other Grevilleas and a couple of Callistemons on the south-west side of our property.

Plant of the Month – March

Robyn Tyson, one our Committee members, has provided our newsletter with the March Plant of the Month from her garden. Here’s what she had to say.

About 9 years ago I decided to have a Banksia garden. I bought things that might grow in my Mt Martha soil and cope with late frosts. Nothing happened flower-wise but everything is growing nicely. One in particular got to a size and stayed there.  Upon reading my Banksia book it said it may take 10 years to flower in cultivation. Patience is a virtue. My  Banksia Pilostylis has 3 flowers this year.  They are green with a black eye.

Thanks Robyn.

Plant of the Month – April

Now here’s a prostrate Goodenia ovata which we have flowering for the first time. We planted it last year and already it is spreading well and is a lovely splash of gold in our garden right now.

Don’t forget I am always on the lookout for member plant inclusions in this section of our newsletter so if you have something flowering in your garden you are fond of why not share your love of it with us. Just send a photo (less than 1Mb in size) with a brief description of where it is growing, preferred soil conditions and why you like it, to our email – marking it Attention:Mark Allison

Tuesday 21st February meeting

Our committee has been hard at work organising the program for this year but at times securing speakers has proven problematic. So when we had a late cancellation for our February meeting we were fortunate our own leader, Verena, was able to step in. She had been with the Friends of Royal Botanic Gardens Cranbourne to Mt Hotham over the summer. Her informative talk, suitably supported by an excellent PowerPoint presentation was well received and enjoyed by those in attendance.

Alpine scenery and plants surround Hotham Village: Celmisia pugioniformis, Stylidium armeria, E. pauciflora ssp apuciflora, Olearia phlogopappa

Certainly the Mt Hotham area offers a lot to plant lovers and hikers during the summer when it isn’t snow-covered. Later in this newsletter you will find a written report of Verena’s time at Mt Hotham with some accompanying photos.

Saturday 18th March Excursion to Merricks Nursery for a Propagation Workshop

Twenty-four members attended the Merricks Nursery for an extremely detailed talk and workshop demonstration by nurseryman, Richard Anderson. Firstly Richard revealed a few of his preferred books for propagation information. Following that he shared his experiences in growing Australian plants from seed, cuttings and division. The early part of his talk dealt with growing plants from seed, whether to pre-treat seeds or not, how to create a smoke water environment and what medium to plant the seeds into. His preferred medium is coconut peat and perlite. So now there’s a secret for us all! Next he showed us his smoker and his hothouse/shade-house set up for growing plants from cuttings. We were even misted along with the cuttings whilst checking it out. Back in his worksheet he showed how to prepare cuttings from samples brought from member’s gardens. Finally he demonstrated how to subdivide a kangaroo paw. Autumn is an ideal time of the year to do this. A delicious morning tea and the opportunity to purchase plants concluded the morning.


Plants seen in the Mt Hotham Region, 13-16 January 2017

In January this year, I joined the Friends of Royal Botanic Gardens Cranbourne who organised a 4 night stay at Hotham Heights. Over 3 days, a pleasantly-sized group of 18 were led by the inimitable Rodger Elliott and a local guide, ambling about in different regions – Little Mount Higginbotham, up the side of Mount Hotham, Dinner Plain and JB Plain, the Mount Hotham to Mount Feathertop Razor Back track, and a short trip further down the mountainside on the Dargo High Plains Road. And when I say amble, it was a joy to be amongst those who took their time to inspect plants and take many photographs.

An orgy of identification at start of Little Mount Higginbotham walk. From left to right: Eucalyptus pauciflora ssp. pauciflora, Chrysocephalum semiapposum, Podolobium alpestre, Pimelea ligustrina ssp. ciliata

Our walks were made in delightful weather, even the high winds and rain on the first day didn’t arrive until we were all safely inside Kalyna Lodge. The cool late summer had delayed the flowers, some early plants were still in bloom, while later ones had only just started.

Seen on the Mount Hotham to Mount Feathertop Razor Back track: ubiquitous False Dandelion, dead trees from several bushfires on the mountainside, with the Mt Buffalo range in the distance

So there were no “fields of flowers” other than the ubiquitous Cats’ Ear or False Dandelion.   But that didn’t hinder an orgy of identification. Most of the alpine plants were new to me, but thanks to the experts in the group, I’ve been able to put names to nearly all of my photos. In all, about 170 species were recorded (not including rushes, reeds, sedges, many of the grasses, lichens, mosses and fungi).

Caladenia alpina

In the evenings there was much discussion of plants seen that day. We were also entertained by illustrated talks given by some of the Friends, ranging from previous Alpine trips, Grassland of West Melbourne, The Kimberleys and the history of the historic house Harewood.

My overall impression of the plants in this region is the large variety of herbaceous perennials and the adaptation of shrubs to the harsh Alpine environment. Here are some highlights:

  • There are Alpine species of many of the common families and genus – Myrtaceae (Eucalyptus, Baeckia, Callistemon, Kunzea), Proteaceae (Grevillea, Hakea), Asteraceae (Brachyscome, Chrysocephalum, Microseris, Olearia, Ozothamnus, Senecio, Xerochrysum), Fabaceae (Acacia, Bossiaea, Hovea, Podolobium, Pultanea), Ericaceae (Epacris), Thymaelaceae (Pimelea).

    Hovea montana – last flower of the late Spring
  • Snow Daisies (Celmisia) and Billy Buttons (Craspedia) are common sights in Alpine summer scenes, as are the Trigger Plants (Spyridium).
  • Some Alpine plants will grow quite happily in warmer, drier non-Alpine gardens – Olearia phlogopappa, Grevillea australe, Tasmannia lanceolata, Wahlenbergia gracilis.
  • Unusual species – Orites lancifolius (Proteaceae)
  • The usual name change confusion – Mountain and Snow Beard-heath are now called Acrothamnus not Leucopogon because their flowers do not have “beards”
  • Unusual families – Apiaceae – Aciphylla glacilis (Mountain Celery), Oreomyrrhis eriopoda (Australian Caraway)

    An unusual plant – Aciphylla glacilis
  • Unusual forms – the flowers of Velleia montana (Mountain Velleia) and Trachymene humilis (Alpine Trachymene) have much shorter stalks than other species of these genus.
  • Inevitable orchids – Caladenia alpestris, Chiloglottis valida (Bird-orchid), Prasophyllum alpestre and tadgellianum(Leek-orchids), Pterostylis cycnocephala (Alpine Swan Greenhood)
  • Simply beautiful – Wahlenbergia gloriosa

To conclude, I can recommend a trip to the Alps in the summer – it’s easy walking and lots to see. The experience is even better when you go with a friendly group, particularly when some of them are already familiar with Australian Alpine plants.

Photos and words – Verena Reich

Next Meeting

Our next meeting will be on Tuesday 18th April at 2:30pm at Benton Square Community Centre. Our speaker will be our very own Chris Long, APS President, and he will present on – Gardens, Gardening and APS Victoria. It promises to be an interesting afternoon.

That’s all this time. Happy gardening!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s