Friday, 5 July 2019

A Little About the Comp and Some Hints

Each September, the Coffs Garden Club conduct a garden competition for home owners, renters, commercial/industrial properties and schools. There are many different categories in this competition and there is bound to be one suitable for most folk. The competition is usually launched the last Saturday in July with closing date for entries the first Friday in September. 

The gardens are judged about 10 days later (to allow for administrative work). This judging is conducted over three days with various areas done on each day. There will be a lot of extra information about this competition in the coming weeks but for now this post will tell you more about the competition with some hints on how to help you prepare and display your garden in the Spring Garden Competition.

Before anything else read up as much information as you can from our website including full details of categories, judging days, open garden day and of course, the date of the Presentation Night where you can receive your awards and prizes! There will also be key information on the paper entry form.

It is important to remember that the judge will be looking only at what they see in your garden at the time of their visit, not what might be there next month or even next week and certainly not what looked good last week. It is also very important to know that the judge has only limited time to look at each garden, so it helps if you make a good first impression and have that 'WOW' factor from the outset.

So what can you do to help give your garden the best chance of success in this year's competition?

1.     Overall garden appeal is really important. People should want to be in your garden, and that includes the judge.

  • Resist the urge to put in an 'instant' or just planted garden.
  • Ensure that any paving and pathways are clean and safe with no overhanging branches or weeds that could be hazardous.
  • Beds should be well mulched with material that is best NOT placed the day before Judging.
  • Shrubs and hedges should be neatly clipped. Flowers should be dead-headed where appropriate, and any dead leaves removed from plants and shrubs.
  • If something has failed in your garden, think of ways of filling the gap, ie turn what could be a negative into a positive.
  • Try to have things like garbage bins and old, unkempt garden furniture away and out of sight.  Preferably don't have washing on the line. Put away hoses and gardening equipment. And secure your pets, particularly dogs. 
  • Think about featuring a bench or table with chairs where your garden can be enjoyed.

2.     The judge will also look at the condition of your garden.

  • Plants should look healthy. There should be no disease or insect infestation to be seen, and your garden should not have any signs of nutrient imbalance, eg yellowing of leaves etc.
  • Make sure you remove any dead plants, fallen branches, palm fronds or other debris.

3.     The lawn (if you have one) should be healthy, weed free and nicely edged, if you have hard landscaping instead of lawn ensure it is clean and looking its best. In fact, any other key features you have in your garden should be looking their best as well.

4.     The veggie garden (if you have one) needs to be seen as a working garden, ie, it is quite acceptable to have resting beds, and succession plantings are always looked upon favourably.

5.     Garden design is another important aspect of judging and includes things such as layout, use of colour, line, form and texture, and of course, plant selection. Try to have a clear theme for your garden and stick to it. Where possible, have garden 'rooms' that help make best use of your available space. Or simply have 'flow' to your garden - something that encourages the visitor to move on further in your garden.

6.     Finally, please remember that judges are trained to objectively assess different kinds of gardens, so don't be afraid to enter. Over the years the competition has seen a myriad of styles in gardens and garden spaces. For instance, there have been gardens comprising predominately pots, all annual plantings with popping colour, all Australian natives, cactus, and gardens that have incorporated vegetable growing among flowers etc etc. 

7.    It is a condition of entry that if your garden is a first prize winning garden in categories 1-6, 10 and Waterwise A&B it is open to the public for viewing 10am - 4pm on Sun 22 September, with prize banner prominently displayed.

Please do not be intimidated with all this information. Gardeners who love to garden usually have gardens that fulfill all of the above without even trying! If you require further information about the competition please do not hesitate to contact either Pat 6690 2511 or Maria 6656 2429, they will be only too happy to assist.

All on-line forms will be available from 27 July 2019 at this site.

Disclaimer: These hints have been prepared only to provide general information to competition entrants to help them prepare their gardens for competition and they answer many of the questions that entrants pose to the club. The Coffs Harbour Garden Club makes no guarantee that following any, or all of the above hints will result in success for any particular entrant in the competition. Each entrant remains responsible for preparing and displaying their garden as they see fit.

Wednesday, 3 July 2019

Key Dates for 2019 Competition

Key dates for the 2019 Spring Garden Competition are:

Competition launch Sat 27 July at Botanic Garden, Coffs Harbour at 1:00pm

Entries open - 5:00pm Sat 27 July

Entries close - 5:00pm Fri 6 September

Judging - 'Perfect Pollinators' School seed growing competition Mon 9 - Thur 12 September. Schools will be advised which day their school will be judged closer to the time.

Judging - Sun 15 September Northern Beaches from Diggers Beach to Corindi

Judging - Mon 16 September Toormina, Sawtell, Boambee & Bonville areas 

Judging - Mon 16 September School whole garden, native garden and vegetable gardens

Judging - Tue 17 September Coffs City area and Orara Valley

Presentation of Prizes - Cavanbah Centre, Harbour Drive, Coffs Harbour Fri 20 September, commencing at 7:00pm.

Monday, 1 July 2019


Part of the Bromeliad family, Tillandsias have many forms in cultivation and most produce brightly coloured appealing blooms on delicate flower spikes directly from the centre of each plant.

These easy to grow, true 'air plants' are often used in display pieces on driftwood and tree branches. Perhaps the better known Tillandsias is 'Old Man's Beard' Tillandsia usneoides with its attractive silver grey fine foliage cascading over low branches or wooden fences. This form is often pinched by small birds to make their nests extra comfy and will often drop it along the way, thus spreading the species to neighbouring trees and shrubs.

Grouping many different species of Tillandsias together with smaller orchids is one definite way of making an outstanding feature for any sized garden. In nature, Tillandsias capture heavy dew on their fine foliage so do not require heavy watering to survive.

For excellent advice on growing Tillandsias visit this Better Homes & Gardens feature article.

Saturday, 29 June 2019

888,246 Poppies Were Made

Simon's Poppy

CHGC member Simon was in the UK this year and he was gifted a ceramic poppy from the Tower of London Armistice Day celebrations. These poppies were auctioned off after the event, and a friend of his purchased one knowing Simon's interest in the First World War.

About the Poppies

A major art installation titled 'Blood Swept Lands & Seas of Red' at the Tower of London marked 100 years since the first full day of Britain's involvement in the First World War.  888,246 ceramic poppies were used in this installation (see picture above) and progressively filled the moat at the Tower of London representing each and every British and colonial fatality during that war.

Making so many ceramic poppies is not achieved quickly. Each poppy had six petals (one for each charity that Paul Cummins, artist, wanted to support post installation). It took 300 people at three different locations a year to roll, cut and shape every poppy by hand and each poppy is unique. It was vital that there were exactly the correct number of poppies to represent each and every British and colonial life lost during World War I, so the poppies weren't just counted at the factories, but the Beefeaters also did a count as well.

To see behind the scenes at a factory where the poppies were made, watch this short video.

The idea of the installation came about due to bad weather really! Artist Paul Cummins sought shelter in a library and decided to read wills (as you do...). Paul found a will that had been written phonetically (he suffers from dyslexia) so found it very easy to read. This will was written by a woman who had disguised herself as a man and had gone off to fight (and die) in the First World War. Paul really connected with a phrase in her will 'Blood swept lands and seas of red where angles feared to tread'. This phrase brought home to him just how many had been killed, so Paul did research and discovered that there had been 888,246 British and Colonial military fatalities.

The installation at the Tower of London is another 'by chance' event for Cummins - Paul had tried three locations before he sought approval from the Tower of London. He was successful in 'getting through' at the Tower because the deputy governor had a friend named Paul Cummins! He didn't stop talking about his idea, convincing the deputy governor that this installation should run for Armistice Day 2014.  

A huge team of volunteers planted them in the moat. When looking onto the sea of red, one feels overwhelmed by the thought of so many people sacrificing themselves for what we have now.

'Blood Swept Lands & Seas of Red'
installation at the Tower of London 2014

Poppies have been symbolic for remembrance and The Poppy Factory was established in Richmond, London in 1922 to offer employment opportunities to wounded soldiers returning from WWI, creating products for the Royal family and The Royal British Legion's annual Poppy Appeal. 

Thursday, 27 June 2019

27 June Outing

The sun is shining and it is going to be a brilliant day for our planned outing to Sandy Beach and 17 Shearer Drive, Woolgoolga with lunch at the Seaview Tavern.

See you at the first garden 1 Holloways Road at 10am with a BYO morning tea.

Tuesday, 18 June 2019

Time for Garden Comp Planning

Avid gardeners and proud green thumbs show their creative flair each year in the Coffs Harbour Spring Garden Competition. While spring is still a little bit away, now is an excellent time to plan how you'd like to showcase your little piece of paradise on the Coffs Coast for the Judges to see early September.

This year will mark the 30th year that Coffs Harbour Garden Club have hosted this popular community event in conjunction with Coffs City Council who sponsor the Waterwise garden competitions. CH Mayor, Denise Knight has been a wholesome supporter of the competition. She appreciates the hard work, latest gardening techniques, sustainability ideas, along with sound garden practices that prepared a garden for judging. To boot, these gardeners are working towards making Coffs Harbour a wonderful environment in which to live.

This year has been very challenging for our gardens and gardeners. This last summer didn't bring its usual rain so it was very dry leading into Autumn and Winter. What is amazing though, is that gardeners are very adept at turning negatives into positives and deal with adverse conditions. Competition 2018 small garden category winner, Mary Booth said 'I've had to tweak things a bit in my garden due to the dry conditions, but it still looks lovely'. Mary has decided not to enter this year because she wants to dedicate her energies into being a member of the Spring Garden Competition Committee.

For this year there are some changes from previous competitions. The New Home/New Garden category has been pushed out to gardens that have been built and established over the last five years; this category has the support of The BayRange Group aka Total Gardens with a prize pool of $250.  

The official launch of the competition will be at the Botanic Gardens on Saturday 27 July commencing at 2:30pm. Coffs Garden Club also celebrate 40 years and this will be marked on this day, so lets celebrate!

So folks, dust off the tools, peruse your favourite gardening magazines and catalogues for inspiration and get planning for the Coffs Harbour Spring Garden Competition 2019. 

Sunday, 16 June 2019

Patron Pat Roser OAM

Pat Roser & Coffs Harbour Mayor, Denise Knight

Coffs Harbour Garden Club Life Member, Pat Roser OAM is now our Patron. It was a very busy June meeting with the election of a new President and also Pat being recognised for her many, many years of dedicated (and I really mean dedicated) service to the garden club to become the Patron.

Pat is a passionate, forward thinking person with the best interests of the club always at the forefront of her mind. She has held multiple executive positions including President, been on many steering committees, sat on the Spring Garden Competition Committee for EVER, also being the Administrator (as she is again for the 2019 comp), along with a myriad of other roles and always willing to put her hand up to help out.

There is not a person more worthy of being Patron of the Coffs Harbour Garden Club and we wish her the very best.

Saturday, 15 June 2019

Welcome to our New President

Pictured right, new President Margaret Crawley 

Congratulations to our newly elected President of Coffs Harbour Garden Club, Margaret Crawley who was elected to take the chair after Jane Durler had to stand down earlier this year. Margaret was voted into the position at today's meeting (15 June 2019).

We welcome Margaret, who has a wealth of experience under her belt as she has been on many, many committees and organised some pretty awesome events in her 'retirement' - why do we say that, when we perhaps work as hard as we ever did when we received a (then) pay packet?

Margaret will enrich our Executive and feel sure that she will cohesively work as a member of the Executive to make Coffs Garden Club one that folk want to be a part of, welcome aboard Margaret!

Wednesday, 12 June 2019

Pruning Crepe Myrtles

On the Coffs Coast there are few autumnal trees/shrubs that is why Crepe Myrtles (Lagerstroemia indica) hold such swathe in our gardens. By giving us a beautiful display of Autumn leaves, it is almost a must that our gardens have at least one for their leaf turning burst of colour alone.

Crepe Myrtles thrive in the hot humid conditions and are also drought tolerant to boot. I just love their mottled bark which is so beautiful.

It is not necessary to prune, however some folk would like to know how to cut back their shrubs to promote more new growth. Following are some guidelines.

Crepe myrtles can be heavily pruned in winter to encourage the development of long, arching branches of flowers. However, the downside of this annual pruning is that it creates an ugly, butchered looking plant.

Left unpruned, crepe myrtles develop a naturally appealing shape and will flower well regardless. If a shrub is preferred, plant one of the new, smaller varieties, rather than pruning every year to keep a tree down to shrub size.

Pruning know how:

Step 1: Prune small sprouts at bottom of the tree first. These are called 'suckers'. Left untrimmed, these will give your crepe myrtle a bush appearance. Suckers can be pulled out when they first sprout or trimmed with a hand pruner. Leave the large, healthy thick trunks to keep growing taller and stronger.

Step 2: Cut side branches. Prune any branches coming out of the side of the trunk up to about halfway up the trunk. This is called limbing-up, and helps the tree retain an attractive shape. For younger trees that you are starting to shape, prune the small limbs from the ground up, leaving only the 3-5 strongest limbs.

Remove smaller branches that are growing horizontally or toward the inside of the tree.

Step 3: Prune out dead and crossing branches. You can use hand pruners for small, thin branches that you can reach, loppers for branches that are more than 12mm (1/2 inch) thick, or a [pole pruner for thicker or taller branches. Cut branches that are growing at an angle or that detract from the shape you are trying to achieve.

Step 4: Cut long or arching branches back to where they are no more than 12mm (1/2 inch) in diameter. Branches that are too thin will still bloom, but they will not be able to bear the weight of the blooms and will droop or break. If you/re cutting a branch back to the trunk, cut flush with the trunk instead of leaving a stub.

Use loppers for lower branches or pole pruners for the tall ones out of reach.

It is not necessary to cut off seed pods. It won't affect blooming.

See the following diagram on where to prune:

For further information and examples of various Crepe Myrtles visit Jane's garden diary

Saturday, 8 June 2019


Flower of the month - June 2019

KINGDOM: Plantae

FAMILY: Euphorbiaceae 

GENUS: Euphorbia 

SPECIES:  Many. including the weed, Painted Spurge (Euphorbia cyathophora).

The most readily identifiable poinsettia is the red one (pictured above) we see at Christmas time but we all know that it really flowers in our winter and it is only available at Christmastime by virtue of some sneaky greenhouse trickery to make the plants believe it is really wintertime. 

Jane did an excellent presentation in June 2016 on Poinsettias and can be seen here.

Other beautiful ones that can be seen around Coffs are the really pretty pink one and the cream coloured one. 

For some really beautiful images and more information please visit Australian Handyman Magazine.

Painted Spurge (pic below) has taken over many coastal areas around Coffs.  It is a garden escapee that is a nasty.

On our recent May outing we saw a stunning Poinsettia growing on the side of the road near the roundabout heading towards Bellingen - a real beauty.