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  • 1 Sep 2018 10:31 AM | WARREN SHEATHER (Administrator)

    Today is Wattle Day and even during the severe drought the Acacias are managing to put on a brave show. Wattles are a versatile group of native plants. With many hundreds of species to choose from there is a wattle for every horticultural situation. Amongst the host of species there are many small varieties that could be grown in the garden or in containers. Acacia dawsonii (top image) and A. flexifolia will reach a height of a metre or so and have bright yellow flowers during spring. In fact A. flexifolia starts to flower in late winter. We call this species “A Herald of Spring”.

    In both cases pruning is the only maintenance required. Remove each branch behind the flowers as they fade.

  • 25 Aug 2018 3:11 PM | WARREN SHEATHER (Administrator)

    At our granddaughter’s school, in western Sydney, there has recently been an extensive planting of natives. This will supplement the existing plantings undertaken a few years ago. Amongst these older plantings there is a beautiful Eremophila "Aurea". This 1 m by 1.5 m shrub is covered with bright yellow tubular flowers. The mass of blooms light up the surrounding garden. Unfortunately there are no honeyeaters in the area to take advantage of the copious quantity of nectar produced by the flowers.

    If you have only room for one Emu Bush in your garden then "Aurea" may be the one for you.

  • 7 Aug 2018 1:55 PM | WARREN SHEATHER (Administrator)

    We recently undertook an expedition from western Sydney to the Royal Botanic Garden (RBG), Sydney.

    Two features were of particular interest. One was the newly established southern African terraced garden. This garden features Cycads and various members of the African Proteaceae family.

    When the Proteaceae specimens flower it is easy to see the close relationship with Australian members of the family.

    Once this garden matures it will provide an excellent representation of the southern African flora.

    The other garden of great interest was the Australian Native Rockery. This extensive rockery is beside the path that leads to the Opera House and was renovated and replanted for the Sydney Olympics.

    The garden is filled with a wide range of natives including Gymea Lilies, banksias, grevilleas and everlasting daisies.

    The plants that drew our attention were many specimens of a prostrate Casuarina. These plants spilled over the sandstone rocks that are the building blocks of the rockery. Casuarina glauca “Shagpile” (see image) develops into a dense, weed suppressing ground cover that would be suitable for many garden situations.

  • 30 Jul 2018 5:46 PM | WARREN SHEATHER (Administrator)

    Whilst waiting to buy a property in the Blue Mountains we are living in Minchinbury, a suburb in western Sydney. Without our usual horticultural activities walking has been our main form of exercise. As well as observing the plants in local gardens we have been watching and recording the birds around the suburb.

    There are plenty of introduced species mainly Indian Mynahs, Spotted Doves and the occasional Starling. An interesting observation was a small population of the introduced Red-whiskered Bulbuls They live in an avenue of century old olive trees.

    We viewed very few small native birds. One morning an Eastern Spinebill flew over and on another occasion we were happy to see a female Blue Wren. Noisy Miners (see image) were in their usual large suburban numbers. Lorikeets were also plentiful, usually heard rather than seen, in flowering eucalypts. Small numbers of Grass Parrots are often seen on lawns.

    Perhaps the most unusual sightings have been Apostle Birds. We are familiar with these gregarious birds from the western areas of NSW. Around Minchinbury they are seen on nature strips. True to their name we saw a flock of 12 flying over one morning. In a nearby lawn cemetery they have become very tame (see image).

    Observing the birds both native and exotic adds another dimension to our walks.

  • 25 Jul 2018 3:25 PM | WARREN SHEATHER (Administrator)

    Recently we ventured into the city and walked through Barangaroo Reserve. Barangaroo is situated on a headland on the edge of Sydney’s CBD within walking distance of Wynyard Railway Station. The site was previously part of the wharf system when Sydney was a working port.

    Barangaroo Reserve is a recreated Sydney Harbour headland park. A wide path follows the foreshore through the Reserve with uninterrupted views of the harbour on one side and extensive grassy areas and large densely planted native gardens on the other.

    Over 75,000 plants were used all native to the Sydney area at the time of European settlement.

    This is a really impressive achievement that shows off the 84 different species used. One of the grassy areas is dotted with mature Banksia integrifolia trees. One caught our eye with the largest flower spikes we have ever seen on this species (see image). Another flowering specimen was Callistemon citrinus “Anzac” (see image). This was an appropriate addition to the gardens as the Reserve was officially opened during the centenary of Gallipoli.

  • 15 May 2018 3:34 PM | WARREN SHEATHER (Administrator)

    It is now 4 weeks since we left Yallaroo and started a temporary life in the western suburbs of Sydney before moving to the Blue Mountains.

    A walk around the suburb, where we are living, revealed a paucity of native plants in the gardens. “Robin Gordon” type grevilleas predominate. The garden, of our temporary residence, is home to a couple of splendid Blueberry Ashes (Eleocarpus recticulatus) (see image). Both specimens are about 5 metres tall.

    Many eucalypts are being planted by the local council. In fact a team of council workers were planting a line of eucalypts in the median strip of the Great Western Highway at eight o’clock one night. This reveals a dedication to increasing the greenery in the local area.

    Meanwhile the relentless search goes on as we seek a home in the lower Blue Mountains.

  • 5 May 2018 4:13 PM | WARREN SHEATHER (Administrator)

    On this 1st week of May we have sold, departed from Yallaroo and are living temporarily with a relative in western Sydney until a suitable house in the Blue Mountains appears.

    Early in the week we visited the Blue Mountains Botanic Garden at Mount Tomah. We had a splendid day wandering through the extensive gardens admiring the excellent collection of the flora from cool climates.

    Of particular interest were the local indigenous plants. Hopefully at least some will find a home when we establish our Blue Mountain’s garden.

    Lambertia formosa, Mountain Devil, (see image) could be considered the unofficial emblem of the Blue Mountains and will certainly be included in our new garden.

  • 10 Apr 2018 1:53 PM | WARREN SHEATHER (Administrator)

    In this second week of April leaving Yallaroo is fast approaching. There is only a fortnight before we move.

    We are looking forward to new horticultural challenges when we find a suitable property in the lower Blue Mountains.

    During the Easter weekend we found a plant flowering in one of our dams. This was identified as Ottelia ovalifolia, the Swamp Lily and has flowered for the first time just as we are about to leave. This was a rather exciting farewell present.

    We have never planted any Swamp Lilies so perhaps the seed was carried in by water birds.

  • 17 Mar 2018 4:15 PM | WARREN SHEATHER (Administrator)

    Last time we described a Westringia seedling growing between the bricks on our front steps.

    This time more “conventional” ways of regeneration will be described.

    Over two decades ago we planted a couple of Black Cypress (Callitris endlicheri) near our front gate. Over the years the trees have matured, produced cones and dropped seeds. On a very rocky area there is now a forest of Black Cypress seedlings ranging in height from 6 centimetres to 2 metres (top image). The ground where they have germinated is so rocky that to plant there a crowbar would be needed to break up the ground.

    Also near our gate we planted an Acacia deanei. This tree has also produced a forest of progeny. In this case no seeds were involved. The forest is due to root suckering (right image). The parent is now surrounded by suckering plants. Some suckers are 3 metres from the parent.

  • 8 Mar 2018 1:12 PM | WARREN SHEATHER (Administrator)

    In this second week of March we noticed a healthy seedling growing between the bricks on our front steps. Close inspection revealed that this was a seedling Westringia. Our garden is home to many Westringias and on rare occasions seedlings appear in the garden. How a seed managed to lodge between two bricks, germinate and survive is one of nature’s horticultural mysteries.

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