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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Flowering in July 2017

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

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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Flowering in June 2017

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

Garden visit in Research May 2017

Lyhn and Gordon took over the three quarter acre property in January 2000.  The property backs onto paddocks with views over Plenty Valley to Mt Macedon.  In the 16 years they have been there they have completely transformed the house and land.

Earthworks were undertaken to create three tiers enabling child play areas, ease of movement and water retention.  The soil used in the garden is largely excavated material from the local area.  The process took many years during which an 11 square extension was added to the old house.

Lyhn says they made it up as they went along.  She enjoys curves and recreated those in the garden. While there have been mistakes they have also benefitted from serendipity.  One splendid example being a neighbour offering them a truckload of enormous rocks which he could not get up his steep drive.  These were adapted into two new ponds using the neighbour’s excavator and an accomplished landscaper.  There were also some problems arising from the bobcat work compacting the soil which meant efforts had to be made to improve drainage for the natives.  They have a combination of exotics and natives in the garden which complement each other beautifully.

Of the natives there are Brachychitons, Correas, Grevilleas, Eremophilas, Hakea francisiana, Melalelucas, Darwinias, Olearias, Acacias and Chamelaucium uncinatum (Geraldton Wax).  The Banksia present are truly superb – B. spinulosa  & B. praemorsa.  There is a recovering B. menziesii in a large pot.  I do believe the flowering Grevillea nudiflora  densely draped all over those large rocks mentioned above was commented on by many who visited.

(Report by M. Ford and edited for website)

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Flowering in May 2017

Just a few flowers brought to our meeting from members’ gardens in May to show some more Autumn flowering plants.

Eremophila garden visit to Riddells Creek in April

Russell guided us around a stunning garden of eremophilas, some verticordias, darwinias, homoranthus, grevilleas, acacias and more.  At Riddells Creek the soil is a rich clay which he has built up with imported local fill to around 0.5 – 1m high.  He has placed, and is still placing local rocks to the edge of the mounds.  There is no mulch and he lets the rain do the watering.  Some beds had been established for 4 years, others 2 and 1 only – astonishing growth everywhere.  The garden is on a large scale, and the property is fenced off from rabbits and emus.  The eremophilas were too numerous to list and ranged from large, through medium size shrubs, to some lovely smaller and prostrate species.  Russell, being a co-author of the book   Australia’s Eremophilas: changing gardens for a changing climate,  knew them all, and had some interesting stories about his collection.  We were thankful for his knowledge and generosity.
Report by M. Ford and revised for website.

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