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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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  • 18 Jun 2018 10:55 AM | HEATHER MILES (Administrator)

    Menai Wildflower Group of the Australian Plants Society are hosting a super meeting on Season and Smoke: Key Elements in Dormancy and Germination, with speakers Dr Mark Ooi and Dr John Porter. 

    Senior Research Fellow, Mark Ooi, will delve into the Dormancy and Germination characteristics of Sydney Flora seed.

    Research Fellow, John Porter, will concentrate on Actinotus (The Flannel flowers).

    Mark and John are from the School of Biological, Earth and Environmental Science at UNSW.  Menai Wildflower Group are providing a Scholarship of $2000 for research into the dormancy and germination in Actinotus species. This donation follows on from the basic work carried out into A. heliathii and forsythii seed which indicates that while smoke and age are important factors in breaking their dormancy, they are not the only factors. The feeling is population, temperature and the ‘Mother’ effect also may be important.

    We hope this further research may contribute to increasing the number of Actinotus plants available to the public and in Australian gardens.

    The meeting is being held on Saturday 14 July, commencing at 1pm, at Illawong Rural Fire Station, Old Illawarra Rd, Illawong. The gardens will be open from 12 noon. 

    Along with the guest speakers there will be a raffle and plant sales. The day will include a look at the Illawong Rural Fire Station gardens. There have not been a lot of flowers out due to the drought but thanks to the recent rains that seems to be changing. And there should be some interesting plants in flower. 

    Everyone is welcome. 

    For more information, contact:  menaiwildflower@austplants.com.au                     Or see Facebook: https://austplants.com.au/Menai-Wildflower

  • 30 May 2018 6:16 PM | HEATHER MILES (Administrator)

    This series of photographs, taken by the late Noel Rosten, shows the process by which the orchid, Cryptostylis erecta, is fertilised by the wasp, Lissopimpla excelsa. 

    The male wasp hatches about a week before the female wasp. The orchid emits an odour imitating that of the female wasp and the male wasp copulates with the flower, in the process gathering pollen to be taken to the next orchid.

    This was the topic of a short talk given by Noel at the Australian Plants Society-North Shore Group meeting on February 9th, 2018.

    Thanks to Rae Rosten for sharing them with us. 






  • 29 May 2018 12:06 PM | HEATHER MILES (Administrator)

    Central Coast Group's speaker in May was Nick Carson, an Environmental Education Officer at Central Coast Council where he educates the community about the Tuggerah Lakes Estuary. Nick spoke passionately about the importance of the Tuggerah Lakes Estuary and catchment area.

    Features of the estuary

    The Tuggerah Lakes Estuary system is a system of three inter-connected coastal lagoons, mostly separated from the sea. These lagoons are called Lake Munmorah, Budgewoi Lake and Tuggerah Lake and cover an area of approximately 80 square kilometres. Although they are called lakes, a lagoon differs from a lake in that it’s a shallow body of water close to the sea with a small inlet permitting tidal currents in and out.

    Estuaries are formed when bodies of water, including rivers, lagoons and creeks meet the sea causing fresh and salt water to mix. This is known as brackish water. They are a complex and unique habitat for many animal and plant species that have adapted to the brackish water.

    The catchment area of the three lagoons is massive, stretching from Bateau Bay to Ourimbah and west to the Watagan Mountains, an area of 700 square kilometres. The isolation from the sea creates an extremely unique environment that supports a huge diversity of plants.

    The biggest impact on the Lakes is fresh water coming off the land.

    Freshwater flows into Tuggerah Lakes from rivers and creeks in the upper part of the catchment to the west. When it reaches the lakes, it mixes with a small amount of sea water entering via The Entrance channel, creating an estuary.

    As water flows along rivers and creeks, it naturally brings sediment downstream to the lakes. However, if large volumes of sediment, fertiliser or pollution enter the rivers, they will also eventually be deposited in the lakes. Therefore, the water quality of these waterways is important as it will be reflected in the health of the lakes.

    Fauna of the wetlands

    Wetlands are areas of natural beauty with plants that have adapted to tolerate waterlogged soils, either permanently or seasonally. They may be freshwater, salt water or brackish water environments, and may include marshes, swamps, lagoons and bogs. Wetlands play an important role in filtering water, maintaining water quality, stabilising banks, reducing flood impacts and providing shelter and food for many land and aquatic animals.

    Frogs, fish, waterbirds, and many insects rely on wetlands to complete their life cycle while other native animals use them as habitat to live in, somewhere to find food or as refuge during droughts. 50% of the wetlands around Tuggerah Lake have been filled in. 

    Streambanks run along the edge of rivers, creeks and streams. The Tuggerah Lakes catchment has many kilometres of streambanks along its rivers and creeks which flow from the highlands in the west of the central coast region down to the eastern coast. Streambanks allow animals to move between land and water as well as safely migrate upstream and downstream along the waterway.

    Riparian zones are habitat for aquatic, semiaquatic and land animals, such as frogs and lizards, providing food, shelter and shade. The Tuggerah Lakes catchment is also home to yabbies, platypus and turtles.

    Seagrasses have adapted to live in salty or brackish water. Similar to land plants, they have flowers and pollen for reproduction, and roots that secure them in the sandy or muddy lake beds.

    There are three main species that are native to the estuary system - Eel grass (Zostera muelli), Stack weed (Ruppia megacarpa) and Paddle weed (Halophila ovalis). Seagrasses play an important role in maintaining the health of the estuary through stabilising sediments similar to how tree roots stabilise soil.

    Impacts on the lakes

    One of the impacts on the lake now is the amount of pollution entering the lake. So it’s like the lake used to have 2 kidneys and now only has one and that one kidney is expected to do the job of two.

    Saltmarsh is the lakes' digestive system, keeping it healthy and clean by efficiently recycling the lakes natural by-product. It acts as a ‘drying bed’ for dead seagrass or wrack when it washes onto shore.

    Wrack is like garden mulch, drying out and breaking down, providing moisture retention and nutrients for sediments. Without saltmarsh plants, increased amounts of wrack remain in the water and rot, producing additional rotten egg gas. For this reason it’s important to allow saltmarsh to regenerate and to never mow all the way to the shoreline. 

    People have an impact on the estuary system everyday. Simple activities like washing the car, mowing the lawn and animal waste all impact the estuary system. These activities add excessive nutrients and sediment into the lakes via the stormwater drains.

    Excessive nutrients in the lakes can harm the water quality and increase the amount of macroalgae in the lakes. Equally, increased sediment in the water increases the cloudiness of the water which blocks the sunlight required for the natural seagrass to survive Macroalgae and Stormwater.

    Macroalgae occur throughout the year, often growing rapidly in spring and early summer. However, when high levels of nutrient enter the lakes through the stormwater system, excessive growth of macroalgae can occur causing algal blooms. Nutrients that are useful for plant growth in the garden (like those found in fertiliser) may cause excessive growth of algae and weeds in our waterways.

    Litter pollution is an increasing issue for the Tuggerah Lakes estuary system and the most common types of litter in NSW include cigarette butts, takeaway drinks and food packaging, plastic, glass, cardboard and paper. In fact the first piece of plastic ever made still exists and will for 1000 plus more years.

    Cigarette butts are a major contributor to the problem with billions of cigarette butts littered annually in Australia. Cigarette butts are toxic, they contain 43 known carcinogens and leach chemicals into waterways within an hour. 

    Where there are no plants on a stream bank, or the shore line has been changed, erosion can easily occur. Soil may wash away slowly, or in steeper areas, large chunks of bank will be cut away by fast-flowing water. Many stream banks in the Tuggerah Lakes Catchment are degraded and suffering from erosion. Restoring them with riparian vegetation helps stabilise the soil, preventing erosion.

    Central Coast Council has installed Gross Pollutant Traps (GPTs) (pictured) at many locations across the catchment. The aim of these structures is to help reduce the amount of sediment, pollutants, organic material and rubbish entering the waterways.

    As stormwater moves along, it picks up whatever is in its path. It collects pollutants such as chemicals, oil, pesticides, fertiliser, litter, and organic material, like leaves and grass clippings, which end up polluting our lakes and affecting the overall health and water quality of the estuary.

    As seagrass plants die or shed leaves, they are blown onto shore. The dead seagrass and floating macroalgae (wrack), and saltmarsh plants dry out, decompose and become part of the foreshore soils, creating a nutrient-rich habitat for invertebrates.

    This is part of a natural process and provides food and habitat for many animals, like crabs, as well as protecting the foreshore from erosion. Seagrass wrack is so important to estuaries like Tuggerah Lakes that, under the NSW Fisheries Management Act 1994, limits have been imposed on the amount that is allowed to be collected. There is an assumption that there is an increase in the quantity of “weed and wrack”. In fact “Weed and wrack” have not been expanding in the lakes since the 1980’s.

    Wrack collection is prioritised based on competing demands around the lakes. These include the levels of public use, benefits for environmental health, accessibility and seasonal patterns of accumulation due to wind patterns throughout the year.

    Photos by Nick Carson. 

    This article was first published in the May issue of the Central Coast Australian Plants Society NSW newsletter. 

  • 28 May 2018 7:04 PM | HEATHER MILES (Administrator)

    We are very lucky to have such talented gardeners as well as such talented photographers. Here are some beautiful images taken by Kevin Stokes, of Newcastle Group, of the garden of Ian Cox that a number of us visited on the weekend. 


    Bush garden


    Grevillea maccutcheonii


    Grevillea buxifolia


    Grevillea angulata


    Grevillea infundibularis 


    Lepidozamia peroffskyana


    Eremophila glandulifera

  • 27 May 2018 7:06 PM | HEATHER MILES (Administrator)

    Armidale nominated Warren and Gloria Sheather for life membership and it is with delight that the members of the Australian Plants Society NSW approved that nomination. 

    Warren and Gloria have been long term members of the Society, first joining the Blue Mountains group and then moving to Armidale in 1977. Warren held multiple positions over the coming 30 years where Warren took a position in the Dept of Botany at the University of New England. 

    Warren and Gloria have continually promoted Australian plants, contributing articles to newspapers and newsletters, hosting radio shows, being guest speakers, and running their own website with stories of their own Australian native garden and plants. 

    Warren and Gloria developed over 300 plant profiles which are found on this website, and continue to add new profiles. 

    Congratulations to Warren and Gloria. 


  • 27 May 2018 6:52 PM | HEATHER MILES (Administrator)

    At the Australian Plants Society NSW AGM on 26 May, Angela Speering was awarded life membership of the Society. 

    Angela and her late husband, Geoff, joined the Society back in 1975. Angela and Geoff have been active contributors to the Newcastle Group over many years, as plant propagators, holders of committee positions, assisting in organising conferences and events and teaching propagation. 

    Angela leads the Wetlands nursery propagation and management team. The nursery provides valuable funds to the District Group and offers a wide range of plants to the wider Australian plant community, the Hunter Region Botanic Gardens and the Australian Flora Foundation. 

    Angela is a delight to be around - helpful and encouraging and always positive.  

    Thank you to Newcastle group for nominating Angela for life membership. The Society is delighted to award Angela life membership. 

    Photo by Kevin Stokes:


  • 27 May 2018 6:46 PM | HEATHER MILES (Administrator)

    APS NSW was delighted yesterday to approve the life membership of Angela Speering of Newcastle Group and Warren and Gloria Sheather of Armidale Group. 

    Picture by Kevin Stokes, showing Angela on the left, Warren in the middle and Gloria on the right. 


  • 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: https://profiles.ala.org.au/opus/foa

    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

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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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