Visit to Monash University Gardens, March 4th

On a warm Sunday, 9 Yarra Yarra members,  students and 4 visitors made up a group keen to explore some of the gardens at Monash University. Ably led by Colin Gould, who spent several years working on these gardens, we noted the impressive number of mature trees, Colin pointing out their propensity to drop large limbs. All the plantings at Monash University since it started have been devoted to Australian plants (partial list to follow).

We stopped by the Engineering Department where some remains of the West Gate bridge and the story of its collapse were displayed. There were some lovely mature Melaleucas and indigenous plantings nearby. We proceeded to some newer developments, all quite healthy and lush despite the ongoing dry spell, irrigation being evident. After a cuppa we proceeded to the Earth Sciences garden, a magnificent display of nearly 500 rock specimens (some weighing up to 14 tons) ‘laid out to represent a pattern of rock outcrops and set among beautiful native plants representing each geographical region in Victoria’.  Impressive and inspiring.  Colin then took us back via the Rainforest section and two quite different pond areas. All in all an interesting and enjoyable day. Special thanks to Colin.

Some of the trees encountered:

Allocasuarina cunninghamii, A. torulosa, Angophora costata, Araucaria bidwillii (Bunya Bunya), Syzygium anisatum (was Backhousia anisata – Aniseed Myrtle), Brachychiton acerifolius, populneus, x grafted, Elaeocarpus reticulates, Corymbia citriodiora, C. maculata, Eucalyptus saligna, E. sideroxylon, Melaleuca linariifolia, M. styphelioides, Melia azedarach

Other plants encountered:

Alyogyne huegelii, Banksia marginata, B. robur, various Correas, Dianellas, Grevilleas, Lomandras, Thomasia, Eremophila nivea (mass planting), Indigofera australis, Lepidozamia, Leptospernum laevigatum, dwarf  L. petersonii, Macrozamia communis, Marianthus bicolor, many Xerochysums

Report by Peter Smith

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Garden visit to Shirley Carn’s July 2017

Shirley has a gift for combining plants to great effect using height, colour and texture of foliage and flowers.  The result is an integrated blending of Aussie plant magic.  Her gardens have featured in the Open Garden scheme many times.

Her latest garden in the Dandenongs is only 3 years old.  It was a freezing day and 9 of us were brave enough to rug up and make the trip for the sheer pleasure at the end. Shirley is a generous and welcoming host.  She explained experiments and names as we were guided around.

The large quarter acre block is a long rectangle running West/East with the front garden on the west side of the house.  There is plenty of sun from the North and a wonderful borrowed landscape with the hills to enjoy in the distance on the South side.

Landscaping over the block has raised beds which allowed wide meandering paths for strolling around and for maximum visibility of the collection.  The back garden has a loop path along the long axis, with an extensive bed separating the two sides.  Compacted sawdust on the paths gives a wonderful springy feel underfoot.

Shirley is ruthless with plants if they don’t perform.  She sources plants from all our usual nurseries plus cuttings and gifts from friends.

Banksias low, medium and high were in flower and looked stunning.  There were plenty of buds on the phebaliums, many kinds of spyridium in full show as well as epacris  waving their floriferous wands in the wind.  Shirley uses other favourites such as pimelea, low grevillea and various lomandra to fill in gaps.  We all loved Lomandra patens with its unusual flowers.

Various eucalypts formed some protection for this long bed and Shirley also used some prickly shrubs and hardenbergia to make bird habitat.  An Eastern Spinebill entertained us with its antics amongst the shrubs and then took a long bath as we watched on.

The garden borders were a lovely mix of tall shrubs with textural contrasts. allocasuarina, acacia, eucalypts and banksias wove themselves into blended curtains of foliage.

Shirley has created a garden of great visual beauty and appeal.  It was hard to believe she started from scratch 3 years ago.  She has a great knowledge of plants and their conditions, and loves to share her experiences.

Thankyou Shirley for sharing with us.

Report by Joanne Cairns

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Laurimar Wetlands Excursion June 2017

This was a joint excursion with Maroondah Group, led by Bruce Schroder.  The following are excerpts from his notes.

The Laurimar housing estate was originally conceived with the logo “City living, country feel” or some similar marketing pitch!  At the time in 1995, the owner of what was at the time, arable grazing land, struggled to convince the City of Whittlesea to allow the land to be developed for housing, as it was very much isolated from any other areas of urban development.  Today, it is just part of the urban sprawl, albeit at the very northern limits.  By working with the original developer and subsequent developers of abutting farm land, Council was able to achieve an excellent outcome in terms of distribution, quantity, quality and presentation of public open space and the preservation of ancient remnant river redgums throughout the housing estate.

The man-made wetlands form a connecting spine for these interlinked areas of open space and are now a haven for wildlife, birds in particular.  A family of black swans with 5 fluffy grey balls of cygnets (sic) was sighted 2 weeks ago!  By retaining so many of the old redgums (some estimated at more than 400 years old) in proximity to the newly created wetlands, regeneration of these trees has been given a kick start while the trees have provided immediate habitat in the form of nesting hollows and roosts.  Less than 20% of the trees on site were removed for residential development and all of these were placed back in the wetlands (stumps, hollow logs, etc) to supplement the habitat values.

This park has an area of 9.2 hectares. Its facilities include walking and bike path, car parking, exercise equipment, shelters, lakes, barbecues, boardwalks and picnic facilities.  (Whittlesea Council description).

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