Wycliffe garden visit – Kangaroo Ground. November 2017

Roy and Janet have spent 53 years of service with the Wycliffe organization (involving postings all over the world). In their retirement they have volunteered a considerable amount of their time to establishing and maintaining native gardens around the Wycliffe Centre’s buildings on the 28 acre property.  This also includes propagating a large number of the plants.

The Centre is now home to EQUIP Training which was established under the auspices of Wycliffe Bible Translators Australia, and exists to train intercultural workers in the areas of language learning, linguistics, translation, literacy and other language related roles. EQUIP is affiliated with SIL International (Summer Institute of Linguistics), an organisation that specialises in working with languages spoken by the world’s lesser known people groups living in over 50 countries.

The buildings in mud brick were designed by Alistair Knox in the late 1960’s and built by voluntary church groups in the early 1970’s. Half of the 28 acres are paddocks. There is a dam available to help irrigate some of the lawns and garden beds. Water is recycled from the sewerage system into the dam.

APS Yarra Yarra had visited Wycliffe about 4 years ago for a working bee and garden visit.  Much has changed since then, many more garden beds and landscaping have taken place since.  There were 20 members of our group in attendance.

It was a long walk around the various sections of the property with many beautiful views across paddocks.  It was hot sunny weather but we saw lots of beautiful plants doing well, well-mulched garden beds free of weeds, some very recently planted.  We often took respite in the shade of the magnificent big eucalypts that abound on the property, and were very impressed by what has been created in the various garden beds by Roy and Janet and some volunteers.  Janet was telling me that while they were once at Wycliffe gardening 5 days a week, in more recent times that has come down to 3 days per week.  They manage their time, taking off the wet or the very hot days but always putting in the required effort to create beauty and habitat for the people who live there or visit, and also for the wildlife.

Roy and Janet have used compost and gypsum to improve the soil in many of the garden beds. There is a good collection of eremophilas, correas, callistemons, hakeas, banksias, westringias, grevilleas, alyogynes, croweas, etc and some wonderful established eucalypts across the property. There is a constant problem with rabbits, and so a need for rabbit guards around most of the new plantings. There is also a healthy vegetable patch.

Roy also told us about their plans to extend the planting down to the dam to extend the bush corridor for birds and animals.  I think we might have to consider having one of our garden visits morph into a Wycliffe working bee again, with plants & labour provided by us.

Thank you Roy and Janet – you are an inspiration to all of us.

Report by Miriam Ford and Jill Lulham

Images: Jill Lulham

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Flowering in November 2017

This is just a small selection of specimens brought to our meeting for True Spring.

Images: Ben Eaton

Country Gardens – A day outing in October 2017

A great day organized by Sheila to two very different gardens, in Seymour and Longwood, past Avenal.  The weather was warm and sunny and enjoyed by about 25 members, including some new members.  It was just over an hour’s drive up the Hume to Seymour, and Longwood was about half an hour further on.

Clarice’s lovely garden in Seymour was in the grounds of a large Victorian house on a normal size house block.  Clarice gave us a lovely welcome and description of how the garden evolved with her love of native plants and the local mix of manure that she uses so successfully.

It was a mature mixed garden with paths leading around the house enveloped by mature shrubs and interesting artifacts to find amongst the plants.  Small birds flitted around the shrubs above our heads.

Clarice took over the adjacent block and extended her native palate with a border of well-developed hakeas and eucalypts, accessible by winding paths.  The inner section was a lovely amalgamation of medium and low native shrubs and perennials, many in flower.  This area was also enhanced with interesting relics used as tubs or garden furniture which will be seen in the photographs.

Using Sheila’s tips, we found our way to Longwood and the large property belonging to Val and Frank.  The large elevated house and main part of the garden are about 8 years old.  We all sat on the balcony eating lunch and marveling at the wonderful long view of the ranges to the north, and the short view looking into the canopy of the trees and down on the garden. It was wonderful watching the honey eaters (including the Scarlet Honeyeaters) flitting through the foliage and visiting the abundant flowers with their nectar supply.

After lunch and Val’s talk, she led us on a walk around the meandering paths amongst the shrubbery which was taller than head height and very healthy.  There were many lovely spots to sit and enjoy the birds.  Something to find around every bend.  So much effort has gone into choice of plants, propagating, soil improvement, planting out section by section and adding water features and gabion walls.

Val says the garden is a work in progress as it’s huge and easier to complete a section before expanding further.  In addition there is a lovely covered orchard and veggie patch plus strawberries galore on vertical poles.  What a dynamic and energetic couple with a wonderful vision which they have skillfully put into practice.

Report by Joanne Cairns

Images: Jill Lulham

Seymour Garden

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Longwood Garden

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Flowering in October 2017

Just a selection of the flowers brought to our October meeting from members’ gardens to show some that are flowering in ‘True Spring’.

Australian Plants Expo 2017

The day started at 7am at The Shed, with 4 of us sorting some of the items to be taken to the ECRC by the removalists.  This year we had some added problems of a smaller number of helpers, especially in the morning to set up trestles, and finding the right sized cloths for each table.  Despite the usual trouble of trying to identify all the flowers that come in unnamed, Miriam, along with all the other helpers, including some from Maroondah Group, did a great job creating order from the chaos.

As well as a stunning display of named flowers in both halls, what great displays were made from some of the unnamed flowers, in baskets and vases, which also adorned the entrance and foyer.  Friday is always a tiring day, but with all the willing helpers, and a welcome relaxation over a pizza dinner, the set up was done by 9pm, and we looked forward to Saturday.

People queued at the doors half an hour before we were due to open, ready to speed in and find that special treasure that was published on the plant list. The visitors worked their way around the halls and corridor engaging with helpers and stallholders then stopping for a delicious Devonshire tea before finishing their plant shopping or picking up books. Children raced around excitedly finding their targets whether plant specimens or small Aussie animal replicas as they filled in their booklets. Speakers and demonstrators inspired their audiences with botanical art, wonderful native bonsai and a seasonal garden story about the tiny creatures that call our garden home.

The atmosphere was happy, the sun shone for the first time in weeks and there was no rain.  We were lucky. There is nothing to compare with the camaraderie between all the members helping on the weekend.  The smooth running of the weekend is in large part due to the preparation that unfolds in the months before. We do need more people willing to help run this wonderful event, so join in – you won’t regret it. The result is most satisfying.

Here is a link to most of the flower specimens on display.  Flower Display

Below is just a small selection of photos taken at the expo, of both flower specimens contributed by members, and of other displays and stalls.  Thankyou to Ben Eaton, Leanne Stute, and Jill Lulham for the photographs.

Jill & Joanne

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Flowering in September 2017

Some flowers brought to our September meeting from members’ gardens to show some ‘Sprinter’ flowering plants.  (If you click on each picture, there is often a brief description of the plant.)  This was an abbreviated flower table owing to most specimens being reserved for the Expo flower display the following day.  Another post to come with some of the wonderful flowers brought to our Expo.

Hurstbridge Wattle Festival 27th August 2017

Well it rained and rained some more, then it blew a gale and hailed.  It was freezing but fortunately abated enough for us to set up and gave us sunny breaks through the day.  It was muddy everywhere.  The gazebo threatened to blow away during on particularly intense squall then we rigged guy ropes up to the large drums of water which were placed on the four corner poles – that sorted it!  Meanwhile the wattles in bottles would get wet, blown over and then set upright again to continue shining forth.  And shine they did.  As you can see from the pictures there were times when we looked like the YETI – we had gloves, hats, hoods, jackets, boots, put the sides up on the gazebo and IT WAS STILL COLD.  However we bunkered down and just got on with it and it became fun.

The display was a show stopper.  We were visited by friends and family and lots of people just strolling by who were amazed at the range of wattles and the different colours.  Many stopped for a longer chat about what to grow where.  We all gave out small samples of wattle for buttonholes, hats and hair, initially to children then adults wanted them too.  It engaged and drew them to our display of about 40 species.  The red wattle (Acacia leprosa ‘Scarlet Blaze’) stopped them in their tracks as did A. sessilispica with its deep golden rods.

There were lots of wattles on display and we have to thank Jill and Jo for collecting many of them from their owners on Saturday afternoon, others for dropping off to Jill & Mike, thanks also to Jenny  for gathering up the red wattle and others & to Latrobe people – Mike Cincotta and Rick for selecting and bringing local indigenous species for us from La Trobe Wildlife Sanctuary.  Some of them were: Acacia brownii, ulicifolia, stricta, provincialis, verniciflua, lanigera, melanoxylon, paradoxa, genistifolia, dealbata.  There were also some from Phil’s old place (collected by Miriam).

These were the species present on our tables: Acacia acinacea, aculeatissima, calamifolia, cardiophylla, covenyi, chinchillensis, cultriformis, drummondii, fimbriata, farinosa, genistifolia, glaucoptera, gracilifolia, imbricata, lanigera, lasiocarpa, leprosa, leprosa ‘Scarlet Blaze’, myrtifolia, paradoxa, phlebopetala, podalyriifolia, pycnantha, spectabilis, sessillispica, stricta, trigonophylla, verticillata, verniciflua Spicy (Heathcote form), vestita.

Thanks again to all those who gave us specimens for the display. It was GRAND.

Report by Miriam Ford.

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Visit to a special garden in Bulleen

Entering Max and Regina’s garden was reminiscent of stepping out of the bus into a roadside verge somewhere in South West WA – so many & varied plants wherever you looked and all of them stunning.  We were also treated to Max’s commentary & asides, always informative and entertaining.  If in doubt, prune and then prune some more.  Woe betide a plant if it gets ideas above its station!

Over 20 Yarra Yarra members were there and it was at times difficult to get a look in, too many in too small a space. We strolled in single file first through the front and then down the back,  lingered and then lingered longer,  before having afternoon tea a few hours later.  What a splendid afternoon it turned out to be, the plants, the venue & the congenial, convivial company of our fellow members.  There is a more detailed plant list below and detailed notes from Max also.

There were some standouts, show stoppers such as Banksia media (dwarf form), Micromyrtus leptocalyx, Thryptomene calycina ‘Little Treasure’, & Leionema rotundifolia.

Regina told me that Max (84) is in the garden 24/7 and what a testament to his efforts it is – a garden that inspires & delights at every turn. Thank you to you both.  We are blessed to have you in our group and hope we can continue to enjoy your company & mentorship for many years to come.

Report Miriam Ford.


Our block, about 1 km south of the Yarra River, has a north-easterly aspect sloplng down to the bottom of a gully with a 1.3 m diameter underground stormwater drain.  Drainage and road works had covered most of the original high quality clay-loam topsoil with 30-50 cm of heavyclay.  Prior to subdivision, the land was used for orchards.  Landscaping involved disposal of clay from the front of the house, drainage, terracing and building up of the bases of garden beds with displaced soil.

Ornamental garden beds were developed manually as rockeries from 1973-1977.  We incorporated a mixture of coarse sand (fine crushed scoria (-7 mm) in the front garden), sandy loam, some mountain soil and screened local clay-loam topsoil, with gypsum and some compost, from 20 to 60 cm in depth.  The vegetable garden contains less sand and higher levels of clay-loam and compost.

Most of our initial plantings were from Austraflora (70c per 5″ polybag), Cecile Glass’s Tantoon Nursery in Eltham and from SGAP plant sales at Yarra Yarra and Maroondah.  We also bought plants from Peg Macalister’s Break-O’-Day Nursery and Bill and Marion Kings’ Chalka Nursery and from Gwenda & Ross Macdonald.  We became enthusiastic growers of seedlings and propagated numerous Acacia, Eucalyptus, Melaleuca, Grevillea and Hakea and legume species, among others, using seed from the SGAP seed banks, Study Groups, Kings Park, Nindethana and seed collected by ourselves.

Over time, large eucalypts and acacias, etc. have been replaced by shrubs, and more recently, large shrubs have given way to smaller ones in some beds.  Redevelopment has involved additions of compost, gypsum, blood and bone and trace elements with additional dolomite and iron sulphate.  Soaker hoses were replaced by polypipe and microsprays and in 2000 irrigation of the entire garden was enhanced by use of 19 mm polypipe feeder lines and an automatic timer.

lncorporation of additional sand, compost and used potting soil into the upper layers of garden beds has improved drainage further.  Organic mulching has been used extensively over the whole period and, around some smaller shrubs, small white pebbles to improve the light levels and provide a pleasing background.  We have sometimes include some fresh potting soil or a footing of coarse sand under the planting site of sensitive plants.  New plants were originally fertilised at planting time with Nutricote TE (3:L mix of 270 day and 70 day) and (except for legumes) some IBDU.  Recently, the use of Macrocote fertiliser (low phosphate 6 month) which includes a range of rhizobium spores and other mycorrhiza incorporated into the skin of the pellets, added to potting media and to the planting site, has enhanced the successful establishment of various leguminous species.  Previous plantings of legumes which were not thriving responded to addition of Macrocote granules into holes made by inserting the prongs of a coarse weeding fork into the soil around the plant.

Recently we have been successful in greatly enhancing the flowering of many species of Myrtaceae and Proteaceae in the garden by the seasonal top-dressing with granulated Potassium Sulfate (Rich-Gro Potash available from Bunnings) at a rate of about 4 g per square metre (one handful over a 2 m diameter around a medium shrub).  Potash is best applied after the vigorous new season’s growth has developed naturally or in response to pruning and/or application of a general fertiliser, but before or during the development of flower buds.  Flowering and regrowth of shrubs are also enhanced or extended by prompt and regular removal of spent flower heads, if these are not of ornamental value or required for seed production.

We are currently active members of the ANPSA Grevillea, Eremophila and Acacia Study Groups, participating in regular excursions and field trips.  Such field trips have included private excursions to Western Australia, Kangaroo lsland, and central eastern NSW and The Grampians, as well as Study Group excursions in southern NSW, around Victoria.  Over the past 16 years we have been helping Neil Marriott to organise local activities, field trips and working bees of the Grevillea Study Group.


(these are just some of the ones in flower now)

Acacia cupularis Grevillea preissii ssp glabrilimba
Acacia farinosa Grevillea ‘New Blood’
Acacia lanigera Grevillea latrobei “St Andrews” (rosmarinifolia form)
Acacia lasiocarpa ssp sedifolia Grevillea semperflorens
Acacia nitidula Grevillea ‘Panrock Princess’
Acacia verniciflua ‘Spicy’ (Heathcote form) Grevillea lavandulacea
Acacia sessilispica Grevillea ‘Fireworks’
Banksia spinulosa ‘Birthday Candles’ Grevillea synapheae
Banksia media (dwarf form) Hakea bucculenta
Banksia spinulosa Hakea francisiana
Brachyscome formosa Hardenbergia violacea
Conostylis (various) Hibbertia aspera
Chorizema cordartum Hypocalymma angustifolium
Correa reflexa (Brisbane ranges) Indigofera australis
Correa reflexa (Fat Fred) Isopogon divergens
Correa reflexa (Nowra form) Leionema rotundifolia
Correa pulchella Leionema elatior subsp. beckleri
Cryptandra amara Lechenaultia biloba
Darwinia lejostyla Lasiopetalum involucratum
Diplolaena grandiflora Melaleuca calothamnoides
Dodonaea lobulata Micromyrtus leptocalyx
Dryandra fraseri ssp oxycedra Phebalium canaliculatum,
Epacris impressa Phebalium glandulosum
Epacris ‘Pan Pipes’ Phebalium squamulosum forms
Eremophila drummondii Philotheca myoporoides
Eremophila maculata (deep red) and others Pimelea humilis
Eucalyptus preissiana Pimelea physoides
Eucalyptus rhodantha Prostanthera aspalathoides
Eucalyptus macrocarpa x youngiana Pseudanthus pimeleoides
Eucalyptus infera Pultenaea gunnii
Eucalyptus erythrocorys Senna artemisioides
Grevillea alpina x rosmarinifolia Spyridium scortechinii
Grevillea ‘Lady O’ Thomasia sarotes
Thryptomene calycina ‘Little Treasure’

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Flowering in August 2017

Some flowers brought to our August meeting from members’ gardens to show some late Winter (‘Sprinter’) flowering plants.  (If you click on each picture, there is often a brief description of the plant.)

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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