Better weather is returning and with it lots of plants are in bloom. Well, in our garden plants certainly have been blooming so I hope your garden looks good too. Apologies for the long gap between newsletters. During the winter we were away, caravanning up through South Australia, around the Northern Territory before heading over to Western Australia and travelling down the coast to Perth. From there we made the trip back across the Nullabor. Along the way there were lots of highlights, especially in the national parks we visited. One highlight early on was our visit to the Arid Botanical Garden in Port Augusta. More about that at the end of this newsletter.
Thanks to several members of the committee and other members of the group I will give you a quick rundown on what our APS group has been up to over the winter and spring meetings and excursions.
Plant Sale – May 5
As usual our plant sale was held up at Seawinds. As well as our our own APS Mornington Peninsula stand there were several plant sellers offering a wide range of plants in tubes and larger pot sizes. Many of our members were able to source special plants for their gardens and we had a steady flow of other people coming to look and buy. The weather was certainly better than some other recent years.
May 19 – Main Ridge
Those who attended the guided walk through the property of Dr Greg Holland and his wife Christine at 10:30am on May 19 were able to see the ongoing project at Main Ridge that they are working on to revitalise their land. Greg is a member of the local Landcare group and was a very interesting guide and speaker. Here are a few snaps of the property.
June – Plant of the Month
Our Grevillea lanigera flowers over a long period of time but is at its best in June. This one is at the top of our driveway and handles the less than brilliant soil conditions.
Remember, if you have a special plant in bloom in your garden that could be feature in the Plant of the Month section send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org with a photo attached. Keep file sizes below 1Mb please. Include a short blurb about where it is growing, how old it is etc In the subject line mark it – Attention to Mark Allison. Thanks
June 19 – Wildflowers Tour of SouthWest Western Australia 2017
The 7:30 pm meeting on June 19 allowed a couple of our committee to do a presentation. Five APS Mornington Peninsula members are also Friends of Cranbourne, and participated in the Western Australia Wildflower Tour arranged by Cranbourne Friends, Royal Botanic Gardens Victoria August/September 2017. Ruben Buttigieg spoke to photos taken by Verena Reich, and with a lot of discussion from the floor, managed to get as far as day 7 of the 22 day tour. Which leaves plenty of material for another talk! Here are a few slides from the presentation from Verena’s collection.
Saturday 21st July – 10:30am at Melton Botanic Gardens
Whoever said winter was a dreary time for flowers in the garden didn’t join those intrepid members of our group who headed out to Melton to their Botanical Gardens on Saturday 21st July. Some spectacular specimens were seen as the group walked around the gardens – banksias, eucalypts, thryptomene and even a rare Qualup bell. Thanks to the Friends of Melton Botanical Gardens for providing guidance. Thanks also to Rod and Jill Sanders daughter, Katherine Cooper, who accompanied her parents and took some lovely photos.
I suspect many of our members also visited the nursery after their walk to make some purchases.
July – Plant of the Month
Sturt Desert Pea (Swainsona formosa) – We spotted this beautiful specimen at the entrance to the caravan park at Tom Price, growing in red gravel.
August 21- Native Planting at Devilbend Golf Course
The guest speaker for this meeting was Laurie Leyden who gave a presentation about the use of native plants at nearby Devilbend Golf Course.
The plant table was awash with beautiful cuttings with some beautiful acacias being a feature.
Brenda Martin also bought along a lovely arrangement with some beauties from her garden.
Planting and weeding mornings at Devilbend
The annual planting and weeding days at Devilbend Reservoir on July 28 and August 25 were attended by four of our group and quite a few from other local groups involved in gardening and environmental activities. Thanks to those who represented us.
August – Plant of the Month
Lambertia orbifolia subsp. Scott River Plains
At the start of August we were in Perth and visited Kings Park. Lots of native plants took our eye. As this one is endangered, due to land being cleared for agriculture or being mined for mineral sands, and not many people are able to see one in the wild it is worth highlighting here.
September 8 – Bonsai Workshop
Thanks to member Charles Saffroy for sharing his knowledge and enthusiasm for bonsai with a small group of 5 members in his garden. Here’s a report and photos from committee member Ruben Buttigieg.
The workshop was held at Charles Saffroy’s new place in Carrum on a beautiful sunny day, starting at 10:30. Only five members attended – a tinygroup which at the time, I mused, was quite appropriate seeing we were dealing with Bonsai. Bonsai derives from the Japanese: bon tray, bowl; saicultivation.
All the paraphernalia required: growing medium, tools, pots, fertiliser etc. were already laid out for us under a budding jacaranda tree. We wasted no time and got straight onto it.
Charles’ interest in growing Australian plants as Bonsai dates back to the late ninetees. As is well known, Charles has led a lotus-eater existence for a long time – working spring and summer in Australia and then jetting off to France to catch up with the hastening spring and summer over there. In France he would grow some Australian plants and he kept an eye out for anyone else who may share this interest.
Hearing of a plant nursery about half an hour from where he lived he called in to discover that it was a vast, well-established nursery, the largest Bonsai pépinièrein France*, covering many hectares. Seeking out Jacques Galinou, the owner and head of the nursery, he was engaged to work there on his return from Australia. This formed the foundation of Charles’ horticultural training.
After another six months in Australia he worked at the nursery for two full years learning every aspect of nursery work. He also carried out trials to assess the viability of new species for Bonsai culture. Another of his duties involved overall responsibility for watering the massive number of plants. This he found physically exhausting and very stressful, especially in summertime; an experience which must still give him nightmares, from his telling.
Charles introduced our group to the processes of Bonsai cultivation by demonstrating al vivowith a self-sown Banksia marginatawhich had germinated in a corner of his garden. The spade is held vertically and a semi-circle cut to spade-depth about 20cm out around the trunk. This allows for tiny rootlets to sprout from the incised roots, while still allowing the tree to absorb nutrients via the remaining uncut roots. While the tree continues to grow naturally, the remaining semi-circle is cut in the same manner a few months later. Eventually, and through this method, the tree will develop a thick trunk above ground and a root-ball of bristling tiny roots below which is the sought-after result essential for Bonsai. The tree is then carefully lifted and after judicial pruning it is placed on the shallow Bonsai tray. This has already been prepared with the appropriate mix of ingredients which include top quality potting mix, sand, coir or peat and fine gravel. Good drainage is essential. The medium is dibbled-in to exclude any air pockets and then watered thoroughly.
There are many different schools of thought on how the branches and even leaves should be contorted and displayed once the plant is in place. Charles gave us a broad explanation of the concepts behind these. He did insist that we hold another two workshops between now and his annual migration when the next steps of Bonsai culture will be covered. These dates will be announced soon. Àbien tôt!
We broke up past 1:00pm having spent over two very pleasant hours being instructed by a very knowledgeable master who, at all times, was what President Emmanual Macron may describe as ‘delicious’.
*Check their website: www.galinou-bonsai.fr/la-pepiniere
September 22 – Pines Flora and Fauna Reserve spring walk
About a dozen members took advantage of a nice day to enjoy a guided walk through the Pines Flora and Fauna Reserve on Saturday 22nd September. Thanks for these photos goes to Jenny Bolger.
Thanks also to Robyn Tyson for these close up shots of some of the beautiful flowers seen.
Plant of the Month – September
After being away for three months there was lots of growth in everything in our garden, weeds included. However our Eremophila Mackinlayi exceeded all else, including Karen! The bees loved it and into December are still foraging in the flowers.
October 6 – Dromana Garden Visits
On Saturday 6th October we were very pleased (and proud) to welcome 36 visitors to our garden and the garden of our near neighbours, Norma and David Baud. (Norma is a member of Friends of Seawinds.) After a brief slide presentation about the history of our garden and some yummy morning tea – thanks to those who brought something to share – we headed out to enjoy the sunshine and look at the plants in bloom. Fortunately many were at their best. As those who came can attest we have done our best to choke back the weeds by the successful use of many ground cover plants. After a while the group moved up to the Baud’s garden, which starts out on the nature strip!
It is more established and looked lovely too. Karen and I have admired their garden since we came to Dromana seven years ago and it was lovely for our group to stroll around it. I especially like the water features and the old cart near the gazebo.
Thanks to those who came and an invitation to any members who missed out to come another time.
Committee member, Robyn Tyson was proud to send me this report and photos of her Eucalyptus macrocarpa. Yes, even though it has a straggly growth I’m jealous!
“In 2010 I assisted my daughter in a thesis on nectar that possums eat. We went To Aranoa Gardens in Balwyn and found the spectacular Eucalyptus Macrocarpa in flower, I had to have one.
This article was posted on my blog, Born To Travel Australia, and I have included it here as I hope you will find it interesting and informative. Karen and I certainly enjoyed exploring these gardens. (www.borntotravelaustralia.wordpress.com)
Arriving early afternoon in Port Augusta from Gawler allowed us the opportunity to visit and spend some time walking around the Australian Arid Lands Botanic Gardens on the outskirts of town. As we drove in we noticed some wonderful iron sculptures of native Australian flora and fauna on the gateposts. After driving about a kilometre we reached the car park. After parking our car we collected a brochure detailing a few of the walking trails in the gardens. From there it was a short walk to the pedestrian entry gate. Here one can read the history of how these Botanic Gardens came to be. (More details at the conclusion.) We collected a walks brochure and read it for a few minutes. As two of the walks overlapped for a bit we decided to start the Highlights Walk.
Near the Visitors Centre we spotted a beautiful Sturt Desert Pea (Swainsona formosa) in bloom.
Along the way there were some sculptures interspersed in between the plants. This one caught our attention. Entitled Bush Flies, it was created by Anna Small.
Informative information boards kept us informed and entertained at times.
Absolutely loved the gumnuts on this Eucalyptus youngiana
and the flowers on this Eucalyptus kruseana were spectacular
and the trunks on the Eucalyptus salicola were lovely.
One of our favourite sections were the Arid courtyard gardens. An information board at the entry to each showed a plan and gave a plant list.
As we completed our circuit we were lucky enough to see two more tough but delicate Eremophilas
as well as an information board about Robert Brown, the botanist who had travelled with Explorer Navigator, Matthew Flinders in 1802 when they mapped and visited Spencer Gulf. Brown had collected and named many of the Eremophilas.
As we exited the gardens we saw a Flinders Ranges wattle in bloom.
Very apt as across the gulf we could see the Flinders Ranges in the distance too
and the red cliffs along the edge of the Spencer Gulf certainly stood out as we drove back towards the caravan park.
For garden and plant lovers, especially native Australian plant lovers such as our members this garden is a must if you are in this part of South Australia.
A Brief Timeline History of the Australian Arid Lands Botanic Gardens in Port Augusta
1981 First proposal to set up the gardens on its current site.
1988 To commemorate Australia’s Bicentennial the entrance gate was built.
1991 – 1994 WMC Ltd, Australian Federal Government and Port Augusta City Council jointly fund and develop the gardens.
1996 Eremophilas were planted out.
2004 A new entrance gate with sculptures was created, the gardens were upgraded and the walking tracks were made.
2008-9 Sculptures were added
Plant of the Month – November
At the bottom of our driveway, ready to welcome visitors in late November/early December, is our Melaleuca linearis ‘Seafoam’ – such a shame this newsletter isn’t tactile as it is so soft to touch.
Tuesday 20th November – Mad about Moths
This entertaining talk was delivered by guest speaker Cathy Powers. The accompanying slideshow with some amazing close up photos of moths, taken by Cathy, opened up a whole new world for many of us.
Over thirty members attended, along with a few guests. As a result the plant table was overflowing. Three tables were needed.
Robyn detailed some information about categorising plants and how some of the cuttings were grouped before Ruben highlighted a few special plants.
After that members spent quite a while looking at and discussing the plants before supper.
Christmas break up lunch
Our regular Christmas break up lunch will be at leader, Verena Reich’s home, 24 Mashie Court, Rosebud at 12 noon on Sunday 9th December. Bring a small plate of food to share. Look forward to seeing many of you there at this busy time of the year.
I’ll leave you with a photo of a recent ‘lunch’ visitor to our garden. He was keen on the ants, of course, but I like the Banksia blechnifolia and the Callistemon ‘Candy Pink’ in the photo too. (Thanks to my son Todd’s girlfriend Cindy for the photo.)
Happy Christmas to everyone and hope your garden provides lots of pleasure over the summer. The first meeting next year will on Tuesday 19th February at Benton Square Community Centre at 7:30pm.