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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 May 2018 11:17 AM | HEATHER MILES (Administrator)

    Here is the latest update on the FJC Rogers seminar in Victoria, 20 and 21 October, being run by two APS Vic groups. Looks to be a fascinating roundup of speakers and gardens. For more info, click on the newsletter link. 

    FJC Rogers May newsletter

  • 10 May 2018 11:07 AM | HEATHER MILES (Administrator)

    Jan from Coffs Harbour has brought to our attention the updated Flora of Australia database. It's fast with over 14,000 plant profiles and more to come. 

    Here's the link:

    Flora of Australia is available on a new digital platform that makes Australia’s plant taxonomic information more accessible and user-friendly. It has information on the names, characteristics, distribution and habitat of Australian plants—14,000 profiles are already available online, with more on the way. 

     While the main audience is botanists, Flora of Australia will also be useful for conservation and land managers, government/policy makers, researchers and members of the community with an interest in Australian plants. The new digital Flora of Australia was a joint project of the Australian Biological Resources Study, the Council of Heads of Australasian Herbaria and the Atlas of Living Australia. A huge thank you to taxonomists in Australia and New Zealand for a monumental collaborative effort.

  • 20 Apr 2018 2:43 PM | HEATHER MILES (Administrator)

    Our next AGM is on 26 May, hosted by Parramatta and Hills Group. One of the pre-AGM attractions is a visit to the garden of Ian Cox. 

    Ian tells us that the two hectare bush block is geologically situated just below the Wianamatta shale on Hawkesbury Sandstone, hence the soils are nutrient deficient, shallow and very rocky. The natural part of the property is botanically diverse. 

    Plants include banksias, scribbly gums, grevilleas, hakeas, leptospermums and smaller heath plants such as boronias, epacris, tetrathecas, flannel flowers, lambertias and pea flowers. A lot of regeneration is taking place now as the bush was subject to a hazard-reduction burn two years ago.

    The garden contains sun-loving plants like grevilleas and eremophilas and also features a fern garden. Ian says they attempted not to disturb the natural bush, and constructed gardens only around the house and part of the drive. They also tried to blend the garden into the bush surroundings.

    The garden provides many rewards with the wildlife it attracts. Every day you see birds – mainly small ones like wrens, finches, robins and honeyeaters. Other visitors are welcome too, like wallabies, bandicoots, diamond pythons, green tree snakes, geckos, frogs, water dragons, lace monitors, and the occasional echidna.

    To find out more about the garden visit, see here

  • 16 Apr 2018 8:33 AM | HEATHER MILES (Administrator)

    As many members may know, Noel Rosten of North Shore Group was tragically killed on 26 February when hit by an out of control 4WD while checking the letter box. 

    His wife, Rae, sent some of his most recent bird pictures as a farewell.

    Thank you Rae and thank you to Noel for your wonderful contribution of bird photos over the years. We will miss you. 

  • 12 Apr 2018 7:00 PM | HEATHER MILES (Administrator)

    The Grevillea Park is thrilled to be celebrating its 25 year anniversary and is holding a series of open days in the coming month. 

    For more information, click here: Grevillea Park Autumn Open Days 2018.pdf

    A great chance for a few hours  in a lovely garden. 

  • 10 Apr 2018 12:38 PM | HEATHER MILES (Administrator)

    On a beautiful autumn afternoon last weekend, we headed off to Callala Bay to seek out the Callala Creek Reserve boardwalk. The boardwalk has been recently reopened after being damaged by fires at the end of 2016 and sits between Callala Bay and Callala Beach taking in the Callala Creek salt marsh. The walk consists of constructed recycled plastic boards and areas of open bush paths. The boards allow visitors to walk through the Sepp14 wetland without causing damage to the wetland itself. 

    This small area contains a number of different vegetation communities including Swamp Oak floodplain forest dominated by Casuarina glauca, where the graceful sprays of Dendrobium teretifolium (Bridal Veil orchids) can be found in early spring. 

    Examples of both Swamp sclerophyll forest and Bangalay sands forest are traversed. They are good examples of these coastal communities that have come under threat from housing developments and village expansions along the much sort after coastal areas south of Sydney. The understorey in the wet forested areas is thick and impenetrable with a dense mat of fine leaved sedges and ferns interspersed with a range of delicately flowering plants that scramble for sunlight. 

    Flowering their little heads off were Goodenia ovata (Hop Goodenia), Lobelia alata and Atriplex hastata (a foreigner often mistaken for a native). Tiny white daisies flowers of Lagenifera stipitata popped up their little heads. Shots of the purple fan flowers of Scaevola aemula drew attention amongst the sedges. The midstorey was dominated by Melaleuca ericifolia (Swamp paperbark) with the occasional Melaleuca styphelioides

    The walk follows along the edge of the salt marsh on the banks of Callala Creek. From here you can see through to the back of the hind dunes along the edge of Callala Beach. The area is dominated by River Mangroves (Aegiceras corniculatum) nearer to the water’s edge. The open mudflats carry sparse vegetation of Saltworts, Samphires and Seablites. Their plump little leaves giving a salty tang when popped in the mouth. It was low tide and soldier crabs scuttled about on the open sandy mud ducking down tunnels when surprised. All four of the vegetation communities present are listed endangered in NSW.

    Just a word of warning for anyone heading out on this fascinating little walk, don’t forget to wear long pants and sleeves or the mozzies will have a feast on you! Our chief mozzie attractor had decided to have a swim in the lovely Callala Bay with a friend instead of joining us on the walk so I was elevated to top mozzie meal, thank goodness for the long pants but gee they loved my ears! With precautions taken this is well worth the hour or so walk to really get immersed in these special coastal plant communities. 

    Leslie McKinnon 

    For more information about the Nowra Group, see here

  • 9 Apr 2018 2:39 PM | RALPH CARTWRIGHT (Administrator)

    Last week, I joined some other volunteers on the Curra Moors track in the Royal National Park for some track trimming activities. This track goes through a lot of the burnt areas from the January fires which 'destroyed' over 2,000 hectares in late January.

    It is not destroyed at all, but springing back to life with a vengeance. Most of the native trees are re-sprouting from epidormic buds on the trunks or from the base. The new growth is often pink or red. Very photogenic, as you can see.

    Birds could be seen back in the area, along with a goanna and evidence of both lyre birds and echidna. Lots of fungi, too.

    The grass trees are all looking very pretty after their dead leaves were removed by the fire.

  • 8 Apr 2018 7:39 AM | HEATHER MILES (Administrator)

    Three members of APS NSG went “on holidays” and ventured to Loftus on the balmy Saturday morning. We arrived just in time to join Rhonda leading the group on the guided tour of the beautiful Joseph Banks Native Plants Reserve. Playgrounds/Parks/Joseph-Banks-Native-Plants-Reserve-Kareela

    As with Ku-ring-gai Wildflower Gardens, the initial development of this area as a native reserve was due to the foresight of keen conservationists some fifty years ago. Conditions have changed over the reserve’s life and plantings are reflecting these. For example, the rainforest area is no longer as cool and shady so the plants that once thrived are struggling, so other plantings are now occurring. Sutherland Shire Council and APS Sutherland Group have recently undertaken some major improvements of the Reserve. 

    At the meeting in the afternoon, the speaker, Geoff Doret, (Greenweb Officer at Sutherland Shire Council) presented How to Create a Wildlife Habitat at Home. Geoff has a challenging, yet rewarding job helping to implement biodiversity policies. His passion was obvious. He commented that some species are very commonly used as they are well adapted to urbanisation. These are important because it is through the common species and the wildlife that they support that the average person has contact with the natural world. 

    The habitat requirements and behaviours of the animals and plants affects the success rates of their existence, their survival and ability to prosper. Due to a decrease in habitat there has been a decrease locally in the numbers and diversity of small birds, frogs, reptiles, microbats and invertebrates. Usually the aggressive species are the more successful. Geoff stressed that a multilayered habitat is required and touched on the importance of ground level features (such as mulch, leaves, rocks and twigs), tree hollows and water features (ponds and creeks). He commented that pruning up, i.e. leaving a gap between the tree canopy and lower vegetation often helps. 

    Connected corridors and “stepping stone” gardens are extremely important for maintaining biodiversity. Good biodiversity has many health benefits including better air and soil conditions, pest control and the value of property also increases. 

    Some of the practical ideas that Geoff suggested were:

    •  Creating “stepping stone” gardens. 
    • Installing nest boxes- consider what your target species is as the box size and design varies accordingly.
    • Prune trees in a way that can maintain any hollows present or create a hollow.
    • Frog ponds can be any size and made from anything. Remember that frogs need a means of getting in and out of the “pond”. Plantings of strappy leafed plants, e.g. dianella, lomandra, nearby are recommended.
    • Plants with smaller flowers such as westringia and some hakeas attract smaller birds, while plants with larger flowers such as the larger grevilleas encourage larger birds. Interlocking, smaller spiky plants favour smaller species.
    • Native bee hotels: most species are solitary and require single holes with <10mm diameter. Suitable materials include terracotta or PVC pipes filled with bamboo stalks, mud with drilled holes or logs with multiple holes drilled in them.
    • Include rocks in the landscape.
    • Mass plantings are encouraged.
    • Provide bird baths: position out in the open a bit to protect the birds from predators.
    • Solar lights can be used to attract nocturnal insects. In simple words- provide HABITAT

    Text and first image: Jan Williamson; other images: Heather Miles

  • 4 Apr 2018 9:17 AM | HEATHER MILES (Administrator)

    Dear members, 

    We have received advice from Wild Apricot, who host this site, that certain browsers will no longer work when making payments. 

    Changes are being made to comply with the Payment Card Industry Security Standards Council (PCI SSC) which has mandated that all credit card processors must retire version 1.0 of an encryption method called TLS (Transport Layer Security).

    To comply with this directive, and ensure the highest standards of security and data integrity, Wild Apricot will stop supporting TLS versions 1.0 and 1.1 on March 12, 2018, but will continue to support TLS version 1.2. Some older browser versions do not support TLS 1.2, so visitors to your Wild Apricot site may have to upgrade their browsers if they want to make payments on this site.

    Below is a list of browsers versions that support TLS 1.2 and higher. Members are encouraged to check their browser version against this table. 

    If any questions, please contact

     Browser  Minimum supported version  Notes
     Google Chrome  Version 38 or higher  Recommend using latest version
     Internet Explorer  Version 11 or higher  Version 8-10 can be configured to support TLS 1.2 when running Windows 7 or higher
     Microsoft Edge  Any version  All versions support TLS 1.2
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  • 2 Apr 2018 4:59 PM | HEATHER MILES (Administrator)

    A small group of Newcastle members had a very pleasant visit to Boongala Nursery run by Mal and Jenny Johnston in Kenthurst, Sydney.

    This garden and nursery has been an institution for many years for those interested in Australian plants and is well worth a visit.

    There are several walks through the grounds including a rainforest walk.

    A large range of plants are for sale, including some grafted Eremophilas, some of which disappeared into the back of my car with lightning like speed. One of my favourite plants was among them, that being Eremophila mackinnleyi. This impressive Eremophila is to be seen to great advantage at the Arid Lands Botanic Gardens at Port Augusta (along with with many other Eremophilas and small Eucalypts).

    Some of the other plants seen at the Nursery are attached.

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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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