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 are regularly posting articles on their garden in the Northern Tablelands. 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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  • 19 Nov 2017 8:17 PM | HEATHER MILES (Administrator)

    We had a wonderful gathering at Ku-Ring-Gai Wildflower Garden hosted by Barry Lees and the North Shore Group last Saturday, 18 November. 

    We started with a bush walk around the garden, which in many areas is showing the impact of a tough, dry winter, followed by heavy rains. While most of the flowers are finished, we found some wonderful surprises. 

    This was followed by a fascinating talk by Bronwen Roy, a PhD student, who is studying the impact of viruses on honey bees and the potential impact on our own native bees. More information on the talk will come in the next Native Plants for NSW journal. 

    Pictures in order:

    •  Multiple cones of Banksia robur
    • Dicksonia antarctica in the fern house
    • Blandfordia, Christmas Bell, arising from a rocky outcrop
    • Ceratopetalum gummiferum, NSW Christmas Bush
  • 13 Nov 2017 5:21 PM | HEATHER MILES (Administrator)

    Grass Trees, Xanthorrhoea spp.

    I have always been fascinated with Grass Trees and they are such an iconic emblem of our bush. Those of you who have travelled to and from Inverell and Guyra via the Ensmore and Tingha Roads will have seen some great specimens (see left) along the northern section of this route which winds among the hills and crosses Paradise Creek and the Macintre River in its upper reaches.

    In September Eric and I joined the Inverell Bushwalkers for an outing to the Paradise Creek area where we saw some magnificent specimens, all of which must be quite ancient. 

    Some, then relatively small, were included in the well known art work “Bailed Up” which Tom Roberts painted on Paradise Station in 1895 (see below). 

    Grass Trees grow only in Australia and occur in all States, growing in heaths and dry forests. There are over 30 species in all; locally, in the Armidale region, our common species are X. johnsonii and X. glauca. They are closely related to the Lomandra spp.

    'Xanthorrhoea' means 'yellow flow' in ancient Greek and refers to its resin. This resin was much prized by Aboriginal people, being used as a glue or as a coating/waterproofing material. The early settlers also found it extremely useful, as a glue, a varnish, polish and a coating of tin materials. It was used in the sizing of paper, in soap and perfumery and even in the manufacture of early gramophone records. 

    Nowadays, Grass Trees are becoming much prized as garden plants and many of our members will have one or more in their garden. They are extremely slow growing, estimated to grow 1-2cm per year, though it varies between species and conditions. A 5 metre tree could be 200 - 600 years old. 

    One suggestion from an old timer for ensuring garden survival is to add 1 cup of brown sugar to a bucket of water and apply monthly for the first 2 years. This, he claimed, helps feed the mycorrhiza in the soil which are critical for Grass Tree survival. Unfortunately grass trees are threatened by the root rot disease Phytophora cinnamomi. In a garden setting, scale infestation can be a problem and this can be managed (with difficulty) by repeated applications of white oil.

    Some species will branch if the growing point is damaged. The stem/trunk is built from accumulated leaf bases, cemented together with resin. The trunk is hollow and nutrients move up inside via aerial roots. 

    The close up picture of the trunk (below) shows how hard and furrowed it can be. One species X. acaulis which is found west of the Divide in the Piliga area, does not develop an above ground trunk.

    Most Grass Trees are able to survive fire as the growing point is below ground level where it is protected by the outer trunk. 

    Fire will also promote flowering and blackened trunks, topped by short skirts of leaves may have multiple flower heads rising above them. One suggestion for gardeners is to pour smoked water into the Grass Tree centre to promote flowering.

    Flower spikes which can grow to 2-3 metres are magnificent; the multiple small flowers, full of nectar, are mobbed by insects and birds. 

    The specimens observed by us on our walk through the paddocks are all old giants. Young plants are destroyed by grazing animals, cattle sheep and feral goats. 

    Grass Trees are protected in reserves and national parks but are at risk by clearing and harvesting from the wild. Harvesting from the bush is regulated and legally harvested plants will have certification. 

    Transplanting is difficult with a high failure rate. Young, seed grown plants can be purchased from nurseries. Just be patient.

    For more pictures members can visit Armidale District Group's web site

  • 10 Nov 2017 10:09 AM | HEATHER MILES (Administrator)

    Thanks to Noel Rosten, from the North Shore Group, for sharing these beautiful images. 

    New Holland Honeyeater

    Yellow Robin

    Yellow-faced Honeyeater

  • 10 Nov 2017 7:23 AM | RALPH CARTWRIGHT (Administrator)

    I know this is nothing to do with native plants, but rather native wildlife that is essential to the long-term health of our forests and is now a threatened species.

    Walking home a couple of days ago, I heard an unusual squeaking sound which turned out to be a very cute, baby grey-headed flying fox.

    I phoned WIRES and they came and collected it very quickly.

    A 2 month old baby, according to the rescuer, dropped by it's mother during the night and was quite weak. Still strong enough to be difficult to remove from the railings and it had good lungs to make all that noise.

    Luckily a dog or cat didn't get it during the day.

    My reason for posting here is that the video I took has gone viral. It has been shared over 100 times now and I'm getting friend requests on Facebook from as far away as Japan, Mexico, USA and Canada to name a just a few !

    I'm unable to load the video on this site, but if you'd like to watch it, (it's only 19 seconds), use this link to go to the APS Sutherland Facebook page and view it there: Cute baby bat video

  • 2 Nov 2017 3:38 PM | HEATHER MILES (Administrator)

    Over 130 people attended our quarterly gathering at Coffs Harbour in September. Here are some of the beautiful plants and vistas on show. 

    Alloxylon flammeum, Tree Waratah

    Beautiful reflections in the river

    A bit of paradise on the morning beach walk

    Kookaburras greeting the morning. 

  • 1 Nov 2017 2:32 PM | RALPH CARTWRIGHT (Administrator)

    This is Cymbidium suave, or Snake Orchid, usually found in stumps and in forks of gum trees but this one was at ground level, so got some easy pictures. Apparently, once the pods turns brown the kernel can be eaten raw and has a similar taste to peanuts. The juice from the stems was once used as a glue and applied directly to wounds (particularly burns).

    Everyone knows the Sydney Rock Orchid, Dendrobium Speciosum, but more unusual to find one with seed pods on it. These were growing in full sun on an exposed rock shelf in the Royal National Park, Sydney. Tough plants.

  • 26 Oct 2017 4:57 PM | HEATHER MILES (Administrator)

    We recently received this picture from Bruce Duncan, who runs an olive farm in Mokine, Western Australia (Clackline Valley Olives). He reports that thanks to the information  about plants on our APS NSW website, he’s been able to identify a plant in his yard.  This Ricinocarpus pinifolius is certainly extremely happy! Thanks Bruce.

  • 25 Oct 2017 3:34 PM | HEATHER MILES (Administrator)

    Here is a great article by Amanda Kaiser, a researcher into associations, about mistakes we make when trying to engage younger people. And it's all about making people feel welcome. 

    "I’ve come across many organizations who try endlessly to engage younger members, but to no avail.

    From my experience, it’s because they’re breaking one key rule without knowing it.

    But there is good news. Once they start following that rule, they’re able to engage younger members with ease.

    That rule is called The Halfway Rule, and here’s how it works:..'.(see article)

  • 7 Sep 2017 7:17 AM | GLENDA BROWNE (Administrator)

    Burrendong Botanic Garden & Arboretum Positions Vacant 

    Burrendong Botanic Garden & Arboretum Botanic Garden Manager – full-time Horticulturist – full-time Maintenance Officer – Part-time (3 days per week)

    Burrendong Botanic Garden & Arboretum in the NSW Central West is situated 20 minutes from Wellington and is midway between the regional cities of Orange and Dubbo. Set near the shore of Lake Burrendong this 167 ha botanic garden is one of the largest regional botanic gardens in Australia and is home to a unique and diverse collection of Australian flora. 

    Due to a recent restructure the Burrendong Arboretum Trust is seeking to fill three newly created positions – Full time Botanic Garden Manager, Fulltime Horticulturist and a part time Maintenance Officer. 

    To be successful in these positions applicants will need to be good communicators, motivated, able to work independently and as part of a team. 

    For full Position descriptions and to apply contact the Burrendong Arboretum Trust Secretary Emily Falson at 

    Applicants must address all selection criteria and include a full resume with three referees 

    For additional information contact Trust Chairman Michael Anlezark at or phone 0412 376 965. 

    Applications close October 2, 4pm 

  • 6 Sep 2017 2:41 PM | COLIN LAWRENCE (Administrator)

    Sunday September 10, Groups will start at intervals 10.00-10.30, finishing by 12.00 midday
    Celebrate Spring with us in a slow walk through the wildflowers of the coastal heath.
    Enjoy the beauty of the blooms against the backdrop of the Pacific Ocean. Local
    experts will help with identification and ecological information.
    All welcome, all ages. Fairly easy walking along sandy tracks. Bring a hat and a drink.

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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:

  • Over 75,000 unique user visits a month (source Google Analytics April 2016)
  • International traffic ranking currently 264,650
  • Success based on independent, well-researched and high quality journalism and photography. 

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