Latest news

Our members love sharing their stories, insights and experiences with others. Below are a selection of posts. Members are welcome to post their stories. 

Warren and Gloria Sheather regularly post articles on their garden experiences. See their Garden Diary here.

Members' stories are also regularly published in GardenDrum, an online gardening magazine - a selection of these are provided for your interest. 

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  • 10 Mar 2018 5:07 PM | RALPH CARTWRIGHT (Administrator)

    Not a native, I know, but a lady recently reached out to us via our Facebook Page.

    She sent us some pictures of a lemon tree in the back yard.

    The story goes that in February of 2017, her brother had planted a lemon tree in his back yard.

    Tragically, in October 2017 aged just 39, he passed away in a house fire which also destroyed the yard.

    However within about a month the family noticed some new growth in the pot.

    She wanted to know if it was a weed or the tree re-shooting. The image on the left was taken just before Xmas.


    This new life became very significant to the family because it was almost the only thing that survived the fire.

    Looking closely at the two images below, I was able to inform her that it was indeed the tree re-sprouting, but from the rootstock below the graft, so the growth is very wild and very unlikely to get any lemons from it if she leaves it. The thorns also look pretty vicious.


  • 2 Mar 2018 9:35 PM | HEATHER MILES (Administrator)

    Here's an article I recently wrote for GardenDrum, about the impact of the lack of rain on my garden in the Hunter Valley. Since writing, we've had about 60 mis, and so we'll see what might recover, though I think a few of my long lived plants are gone!

    My predominantly native Hunter Valley garden is feeling the pressure of no rain. While it looks quite beautiful in the misty morning, the mist hasn’t translated into rain. And it looks spectacular in a lightning storm, but alas, still no rain!

    In the last 12 months, we’ve had less than 80% of the 10 year average and virtually no rain since the end of October. Combined with a long run of very hot days (over 40 degrees) and the garden and landscape are browning off big time. It’s not all that pleasant walking on crunchy grass!

    My rural garden generally survives on just rainfall, with very occasional watering, but given the water tanks are so low, hand watering is not an option. 

     All this means that while some plants in the garden are thriving, other areas are looking very ratty indeed with a few of the long-established trees and plants going to the big mulch pit in the sky.

    Microclimates of course are a critical element of what survives and doesn’t. In my predominantly clay soil on the top of a hill, those areas with a touch of moisture are in reasonable shape, but in other areas with full sun and no water flow, the ‘soil’, if we can call it that, has gone rock hard.

    So what’s going well and what’s not?

    The callistemon don’t realise there’s a water shortage. Callistemon ‘Little John’ is looking fabulous and putting out a flush of brilliant red colour and dense grey-green foliage. Ditto with Callistemon citrinus ‘Endeavour’, with its vibrant red flowers and vigorous growth. A hedge of these in flower look wonderful brightening up the otherwise grey-green (and brown!) look of the garden.

    To read the full article and see what's died (!@#$%), click here:

  • 2 Mar 2018 9:01 PM | HEATHER MILES (Administrator)

    Elsie from the Central Coast group is a whizz as propagating and growing flannel flowers. Here are her secrets!

    Growing Flannel Flowers

    Several people have asked me recently to write down the methods I use to grow flannel flowers.
 I have had some success with them so here is my story.

    Some years ago we had the Flora Festival which was held annually at the exhibition grounds at Kariong. In those days, Madeleine Leonard of Sandstone Natives supplied us with top quality flannel flowers. She would send us more than a hundred and they would sell out on the first two days of the Festival.

    In 2012 Madeleine retired from growing plants to pursue a different career which was the same year as the Flora Festival folded. However, she sent down all her flannel flower growing gear as well as fresh seed and instructions for us to grow them ourselves. 

    Our first efforts proved to be quite dismal with about a 98% failure rate but we persisted. Back then the seed was first rubbed through a sieve and several different potting mix combinations were trialled. A lot germinated but most were lost at the pricking out and potting up stage. With the Flora Festival no longer in existence, those that survived were planted out into the garden. I’d left the seed trays sitting in the sun while waiting for more to germinate and after 6 months, no more seeds were germinating, so I emptied the potting medium into an empty potting mix bag and set it aside to use for something at some later date.

     Six months or so later, I potted up some plants into larger pots and used the set-aside-potting mix to top up the pots. Flannel flowers started emerging in these pots a few weeks later and I successfully pricked out and potted up about 40 seedlings. At that stage the potting mix with the treated seed in it was well over 12 months old.  

    Over the last three or four years I’ve learned a lot and go close now to having a 90% success rate.  

    My seed preparation method

    • Rub the seeds around a large 30cm wire strainer. (This large wire strainer is available at the Red Dollar Shop at Erina Fair for a couple of dollars). 
    • Then empty the seed into a container, cover with water with a few drops of Wetta Soil added and leave overnight. The Wetta Soil helps to break down the protective coating around the seed and this hint originated from Maria Hitchcock, leader of the Waratah and Flannel Flower Study Group.
    • Tip them back into the strainer to drain and leave to dry. When dry lay the seed into the potting medium. I have had more success recently sowing the seed into a large round daisy bowl. I use a mix of equal parts of standard potting mix, coir and sand and add some perlite.
    • Water with a little Seasol, smoke water or Seed Starter.

    Important Points

    • Seed needs to be fresh, no older than 6 months.
    • The seed will start to germinate after about 30 days but can still germinate after 12 months so don’t give up on them. 
    • Seed will only germinate when conditions are favourable.
    • Seed will not germinate if the temperature is higher than 30 deg.
    • Seed that I put down in August 2016 started germinating in June 2017, 10 months later.
    • Flannel Flowers are heavy feeders so fertilise regularly.  
    • Madeleine used the ‘rubbing the seed through a sieve method’ only and she grew the most amazing flannel flowers.
    I have just sown a lot of seed into two daisy bowls. I have one sitting in full sun and the other in the shade so will see which one is more successful.  

    Good luck! 

    Elsie Bartlett

    This article first appeared in the Central Coast Group's February 2018 newsletter. For more information on Central Coast Group, please visit the website. Click here:

  • 2 Mar 2018 12:39 PM | HEATHER MILES (Administrator)

    The South Australian branch of the Australian Plants Society is having their Autumn plant sale and expo in April. 

    The expo and plant sale are featuring Edible Australian Plants.

    The event is being held at the Adelaide Showgrounds on the weekend of 21 and 22  April, starting at 10:00am each day. Admission is by gold coin donation.

    There will be South Australian grown plants, books for sale, free soil pH testing, advice, workshops, children’s activities and more!

    Workshops include:

    ·       Linda Hoffman: Growing and cooking with wattle seed

    ·       Dr Maarten Ryder: CSIRO Native Food Trials

    More information is available on the SA website or by contacting John Fleming, Publicity Officer at:

  • 9 Feb 2018 9:55 AM | HEATHER MILES (Administrator)

    Dear members, 

    At the recent ANPSA conference in Tasmania, it was decided to provide regular updates on ANPSA, so people better understand its role in growing and conserving native plants. Here is the first such update, an introduction to what ANPSA does, from President, Riita Boevink. 

    ANPSA is the acronym for Australian Native Plants Society (Australia) Inc., our national body.

    Because the individual member societies are fully autonomous, the role of ANPSA is largely an advisory one. The main practical roles are to support and administer the Study Groups and to organize and determine the nominations for the Australian Plants Awards. Other roles include supporting member Societies in achieving certain objectives, such as conservation issues, which are becoming more important to member societies.  The recent Biennial meeting voted to discontinue the appointment of delegates to the board of ACRA (Australian Cultivar Registration Authority). The main rationale for this decision was the perceived changes in the operation of ACRA, making it less useful for members of ANPSA member societies. 

    The ANPSA website is expertly managed by Brian Walters. To quote the Webmaster’s report for the Biennial meeting, the main activity in 2017 has been setting up newsletter archives for existing and closed Study Groups with the aim of making the work of the Groups more accessible. The website is a fantastic resource and we need to express our appreciation for the work Brian is doing. Most Study Groups now have their newsletters available to read on the ANPSA website.

    The Biennial meeting, associated with the biennial ANPSA conference, is the main forum in which delegates from the member societies can meet face to face to discuss issues and vote on motions. These provide very valuable opportunities to get to know representatives from other parts of Australia and to identify common issues as well as to understand differences in our large continent with different climates and plants. Other meetings throughout the two-year interim period are conducted by teleconference. Each member society has two delegates to represent them at the Biennial meeting. The delegate from your Society will take issues raised at state level to the national body. If your group has concerns with a national or state focus, then your Society will send these concerns with the delegate to a national (ANPSA) meeting. Delegates will then report back to the member society.

    The executive members are elected at the Biennial meeting (normally from the conference host-Society) for the following two years.

    The new executive members elected in Hobart at the 2018 conference are:

    President: Riitta Boevink, Australian Plants Society Tasmania   (

    Vice President: Ben Walcott Australian Native Plants Society Canberra

    Vice President: Margaret Matthews, Wildflower Society of WA

    Secretary: Mary Slattery, Australian Plants Society Tasmania

    Treasurer: Rosemary Verbeeten, Australian Plants Society Tasmania

    Study Group Leader: Jane Fountain, Native Plants Queensland.

    Corymbia ficifolia 'Summer Red' (grafted), Hunter Valley, photo Heatther Miles

  • 30 Jan 2018 1:43 PM | HEATHER MILES (Administrator)

    One of our Newcastle members, Kevin Stokes, is a stunning macro photographer. Check out these beauties!

  • 27 Jan 2018 6:24 PM | HEATHER MILES (Administrator)

    The 12th FJC Rogers Seminar which will be held in Horsham and hosted jointly by the Australian Plants Society Grampians Inc. and Wimmera Growers of Australian Plants Inc., on behalf of the Australian Plants Society Victoria Inc. 

    The Seminar will focus on the wonderful Goodeniaceae family, with Saturday presentations, plant and book sales, dinner and speaker, followed by Sunday garden visits and plant sales. 

    Regular updates will be provided by contacting the organisers with registrations from 1 April 2018. 

    For more information, see the newsletter

    More information can be obtained from Royce Raleigh (03 53836200) at

  • 22 Jan 2018 10:50 AM | RALPH CARTWRIGHT (Administrator)

    Sutherland group in Sydney has regular working bees (No pun intended) at the Council-run, Joseph Banks Native Plant Reserve at Kareela, in Sydney's southern suburbs.

    This is a little known gem of 100% native plants, including a large patch of native sandstone bushland, as well as more formal plantings.

    It also has a native bee hive and one of our sharp-eyed volunteers, Leonie Hogue recently saw what she thought might be robber bees trying to steal the honey.

    It turns out they were a species of sand wasps, hovering outside the hive and trying to pick-off the native bees as they flew out to forage. They then feed their prey back in their nests to their young.

    Pretty hard to photograph, as it all happens so quickly, but I tried with a short video available on the Sutherland Facebook page via the following link:

  • 17 Jan 2018 10:45 PM | HEATHER MILES (Administrator)

    The Eremophila Study Group is one of a number of Study Groups within the Australian Native Plants Society (Australia). Their aim is to further knowledge about the cultivation, propagation and conservation of Eremophila, commonly known as emu bushes. 

    One of the plants being profiled is Eremophila forrestii. Dr Lyndal Thorburn, of the Eremophila Study Group, has developed a short survey to gather information about the horticulture of Eremophila forrestii. This includes any sub-species (if known) or hybrids grown and any information about propagation, how long they live in the garden and where they grow best (or what kills them). The survey will take around 6 minutes to complete.

    Lyndal is looking for members to complete the survey by 26 January if possible. 

    Here is the link to the survey:

    Any questions can be directed to Lyndal

  • 11 Jan 2018 3:04 PM | HEATHER MILES (Administrator)

    Here are the visitors to our garden this month - the King Parrot, Powerful Owl, and Eastern Spinebill. 

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GardenDrum stories from our members

As well as the stories above, we regularly share members stories with a wider audience through GardenDrum, a leading online gardening magazine with:

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