Sunday, 18 March 2018

'What's in our Garden' - from President Jane

In our garden from blogpwrpnt

President Jane has done a wonderful presentation on what can be seen in her garden at the moment. I just cannot believe how much those ducks have grown in their first month with you Jane.

Just remember members you too can give presentations at meetings on anything you think would interest our membership - talk to either Jane or Sue.

Monday, 12 March 2018


Flower of the Month - March 2018

KINGDOM: Plantae

FAMILY:  Apocynaceae

GENUS:  Plumeria


Frangipani is the common name for plants belonging to the Plumeria genus which is named for the French botanist Charles Plumier.

The plant we most often call frangipani is the species, P. rubra (above). 

The gorgeous white one with the different shaped leaves belongs to the same genus, but from the species P. pudica

image P. Vaughan Aust Native Plants Society

The Australian Native Frangipani is not a Plumeria. Hymenosporum Flavum is a tree that belongs to the family Pittosporaceae.

Don't forget to bring along your frangipani (whichever one you prefer) to Saturday's Competition Table.

Further reading from this blog: 
Frangipani Sept 2017
Frangipani Trees Jan 2017
Growing Frangipani from Cuttings May 2016

Tuesday, 6 March 2018

Bulbs, Corms, Rhizomes & Tubers for Subtropics

Yes, I know IT IS very hard to even think of planting bulbs when we're into our first week of Autumn (and sweltering to boot).

Soon your letter box and inbox will be prolific with bulb advertisements so why not take the weight off your feet, kick back and dream on...... 

On the Coffs Coast the traditional bulbs eg jonquils, tulips etc can be a bit problematic (unless you are very dedicated or live away from the coast in the hills) but there are some wonderful alternatives out there that can be successfully grown here. Following there are some suggestions that might work well in your garden. It has to be said though, there will be a need for further research to establish if a particular plant is suitable for your area/climatic conditions.

First cab off the rank would have to be Hippeastrum, which grows so well here. Hippies (as affectionately known) make a big, bold statement in the garden. They are expensive per bulb, however they will multiply quite beautifully. Plant in single cultivar drifts or massed plantings and these tough bulbs will reward with a show-stopping display in late Spring. Plant in bright semi-shade for best results.

Rain lilies - Habranthus, these little beauties flower profusely after storms (hence their colloquial name) and are a tough little performer. They are terrific in that they multiply quite readily so excellent for sharing with friends.

Hymenocallis (commonly known as Spider Lily) are a warm climate gardener's delight. They have spidery white flowers that are set among large, strappy-leafed clumps. These work very well when planted enmass and in drifts.

Scadoxus (blood lily) these have fantastic pom poms of red to orange spiky looking flowers. They do enjoy a semi shaded location and flower in early summer - the leaves appear after flowering has finished.

Sprekelia (Jacobean lily) is such an elegant flower with a cross-shaped flower. These are suited to most climates however they are one for us here on the Coffs coast - just remember to top dress with garden lime.

Calostemma purpureum (garland lily) a long living native lily with strappy leaves appearing through Spring, followed by red to purple flowers which appear in clusters on compact leafless flower stems in Summer. It's low maintenance, easy to grow and adaptable.

Proiphys (Cardwell Lily) these lillies have large, deeply-veined leaves which are very interesting and worthy to grow for them alone. The fragrant white flowers are produced in umbel-like clusters on long stems. They open in succession over a prolonged period and last really well. They will not tolerate any frost so plant in well composted soil in a warm protected area with little sun, or in pots.

Lastly a garden stalwart Tulbaghia (Society garlic), this tough little guy seems to work in any climatic condition. It is a very hardy, clumping bulb which has grass-like foliage and will reward with sporadic flowering throughout the year. These bulbs look stunning as a border plant or in drifts or even in containers. However, unless you enjoy the smell of fresh garlic these flowers are NOT for the vase!

Adding to my original post:

I missed Alstroemeria (aka Princess Lily, Peruvian lily) These fleshy tuberous-rooted perennials come from South America. They were once classified with lilies however, they now are part of the family Alstroemeriaceae. 

These little beauties flower in Summer, Autumn and Spring. Alstroemerias form a clump of upright stems with mid-green leaves that are usually lance-shaped and slightly twisted. The 6 petalled flowers are clustered in heads at the tips of the tall wiry stems, opening mainly in summer and come in some terrific colours and make excellent flowers for the vase as they keep so well.

There is one species Alstroemeria psittacinais which is considered a weed in some areas and from personal experience this little fella has caused many a back ache as I've sweated over it's removal. The tuberous roots snap very readily from the clumps to re-shoot. They generally flower in Spring with delightful 'Christmasy' colours (however in my garden they are done and dusted by Christmas). Thankfully modern hybrids have generally been bred to have a more restrained habit than this wild species. If you must grow this one, I suggest a pot in a courtyard or balcony where its thrown seeds can't germinate!

Gladioli (Sword lilies) belong to the iris (Iridaceae) family and are cormous perennials with a flowering season during Summer, Autumn, Winter and Spring. The sword-like foliage ranges from grassy to the trademark sword-shaped. The flowers are borne on tall spikes and are funnel-shaped often flaring open or with ruffled edges. Gladdies require a sunny position with moist well drained soil. They should be planted four times their size deep. They will produce cormlets and these can be harvested to grow elsewhere in your garden. CHGC member Phillip L. grows some stunners in his Coffs garden.

Asiatic lilies require at least six hours of sunlight. Soil has to be well-draining so a raised bed could be the go here on the Coffs Coast as they will rot if they're in soggy soil. They are native to several areas of Asia and can reach mature heights of 1.8 metres! They are early bloomers and produce flowers in a wide variety of bold colours (pictured Black Charm) or pastels in Spring. Once established the bulbs multiply quickly and double every year.

Tiger Lily (Lilium lancifolium or Lilium tigrinum) are tall showy flowers with stiff, sturdy stems. The flowers grow in mass atop a single stem from midsummer and last well in both the garden and vases. They perform best in humus rich, well drained soil in a sunny location (half a day of sun is just perfect). Most folk say that their Grandmother grew these favourite flowers.

Oriental lilies are native to Japan. The plants can grow quite tall and are considerably taller than Asiatic lilies and can often be known as tree lilies. The deep green leaves are wider and further apart than the leaves of Asiatic lilies and are heart-shaped. Oriental lilies unlike Asiatic are heavily scented and comes primarily in shades of white, pastel pink and pastel yellow. The bulbs multiply much more slowly than Asiatic lily bulbs. They require similar conditions as Asiatic lilies and will rot if at all water logged.

Calla Lily possess a simple, elegant grace that is undeniable. Each flower is set atop a strong, straight stem with sculptural qualities. CHGC member Myles R. (RIP) grew some bobby dazzlers and was very generous in sharing his bulbs, he had a beautiful pink blush one which was just gorgeous. 

You need to find a location that has good draining soil - as with other bulbs, they will rot if grown in soggy soil. They enjoy filtered light or moderate shade as their leaves will burn in full sun. Flowering is Spring and Summer and they last well in a vase.

Crinum (Swamp lily) is in the Amarylidaceae family and there are around 130 species including some that are native to Australia. They are usually found in coastal areas or growing along stream sides and waterways. They are generally grown for their lush foliage of broad leaves and very impressive flowers (sometimes scented) in shades of pink, rose or white. Their flowers are very lily-like which are six lobed and large trumpet-shaped flowering in Spring and Summer.

Ifafa lilies (Crytanthus spp.) are clump forming and can be a great feature plant in rockeries. They come in a variety of shades including apricot, pink, white and lemon. The bulbs grow best in full sun and perfect for the Coffs Coast. Plant in well drained garden soil - they flower early to late Spring with occasional flowering in Autumn after good rain.

Eucharis Lily (Amazon lily), is a member of the Amaryllis family. This low bulbous plant has broad, glossy green basal leaves and glistening white tyrumpet-shaped flowers and delightfully fragrant. The flowers are borne in clusters of 3-6 blooms on a 60cm tall fleshy stalk. For more reading please visit this link, a post was written about the success of a CHGC member in her's flowering.  

Eucrosia are members of the Amarylidaceae family. The leaves are deciduous with characteristic long petioles and elliptical or ovate blades up to 25cm wide. The flowers are tubular at the base, green, yellow or red in colour. The stamens hang downwards and have long filaments - quite an unusual flower!

Haemanthus (blood lily or paintbrush lily) are native to South Africa with 22 known species from the Amarylidaceae family. Most have brush-like flowerheads enclosed in four or more membranous to fleshy spathe bracts which usually match the flower colour. The genus produces relatively large bulbs that act as food and water storage organs and consist of fleshy leafbases that may be arranged in two obvious ranks. These grow well here on the Coffs Coast - I was given a blood red one and it has survived - enough said!

Pancratium zeylanicum is a small tropical species from Asia. Rain induces flowering and development of the glossy foliage. The flowers are particularly graceful and are solitary, growing erect and showy white.

Daylily - I guess we should make mention of these as they grow quite easily on the Coffs Coast. Plant in well worked soil which has been improved by compost or manure, the crown should be about 2cm below ground level and about 60cm apart as they develop into clumps. Flowers come in many different colours and edges. For more on how to grow daylily please visit this link.

Check for pests such as snails, lily caterpillars and mealy bug. Remove snails by hand (or encourage a blue tongue lizard to visit), squish caterpillars or use Success Ultra and mealy bug are the very devil - use neem oil a crack.

Sunday, 4 March 2018

South Coffs Community Garden

The March outing kicked off at the South Coffs Community Garden where CHGC members learned of the journey in its establishment - land had to be procured, grants applied for, parameter fencing to complete, shipping containers to securely lock up materials and tools, tanks to install........ the activities are endless AND all this BEFORE a plot was turned!

image Julie M.

The day was one typical of early Autumn - HOT. The gardens have some wonderful trees which we were able to sit under while we listened to how the garden came about. There was also a site plan for further and future development. Kids from local Toormina High were really cracking on moving soil to new beds - wished I had some of them to help in my garden!

Thanks to South Coffs Community Garden for hosting Coffs Garden Club to a wonderful visit.

Thursday, 1 March 2018

Entering Roses in the Coffs Harbour Show?

Mothers Love ready for judging
If you are wanting to exhibit at the Coffs Show - flower and plants are being judged 26 April 2018, some thought needs to be put into preparing for that date if you are going to exhibit roses.

Yes, it can be a bit tricky to have roses ready for the Coffs Show below you can see some very general guidelines on when to prune to have roses for a set date:

Miniature roses bloom in 35 to 40 days from pruning. 

Tea roses bloom in 45 to 50 days.

Hybrid tea roses require 45 to 55 days.

Floribunda roses require 50 to 55 days.

Hybrid Rugosas in 55 to 60 days.

English in 50 to 60 days.

If you want to have Iceberg roses ready to use either as a specimen or in a floral arrangement allow 40 days for a bud and a little more to have blooms 'out'.

Bottles are provided, however you can use your own vessel as long as it is of clear glass and best not to have anything too precious! Stabilize the bloom with either kitchen paper or oasis so it doesn't flop around in the bottle.

Citrus Leaf Miner

Good news folks! If you have citrus leafminer problems with your citrus (and it would be a rare thing if you didn't), there is now a bee friendly product available. 

It is called eco-CLM Trap which has a powerful pheromone attractant and is absolutely irresistible to male citrus leafminers. This trap does not contain any poisons, it is a long lasting sticky trap which will last around 8-12 weeks.

For more information on this product please visit eco Organic Gardening.

If you'd like to know more about this critter there was post written January 2014 about the effects of citrus leafminer, what it looks like, when it first appeared in Australia and lots of other stuff!

Is Autumn Colour Possible on the Coffs Coast?

The quick answer is that the Coffs Coast will never be known for its autumn colour however, it is possible to experience some bold autumn colour and textures here. 

To celebrate the first day of autumn, the following are some examples of what can bring some lovely autumn colour to our Coffs gardens:

Ginkgo biloba (maindenhair tree) its fan-shaped leaves turn butter yellow in the autumn. Choose a male form as the female tree produces a smelly fruit as it falls. These trees grown 9m high and about 5m wide so an expansive area is needed to showcase it. It is possible to grow from cuttings - take a 15cm hardwood piece and place in propagating mix and keep moist, but not wet. Progressively repot into larger pots and grow them on until ready to plant out.

Hawthorn (Crataegus crus-galli) have white flowers in spring. Their foliage turns red/orange in autumn and have red fruit which may persist after the trees have lost their leaves. They are not particular about soil type, although they do perform better in a deep loamy soil.

Chinese tallow tree (Sapium sebiferum) a long time favourite of gardeners which provides yellow, orange and burgundy coloured autumn leaves. Unfortunately it is fast becoming an invasive environmental weed of water courses and native vegetation areas. So it would be my recommendation to not go there with this medium sized tree even though it has pretty foliage colour.

Liquidambar  (Liquidambar styraciflua) or sweet gum is perhaps one of the most adaptable deciduous trees with various shades of yellow, orange, red and deep purple in autumn. Another one for plenty of space and requires good water resources during its establishment.

Crepe Myrtle (Lagerstroemia indica) is a deciduous, vase-shaped tree which grows to about 6m. They are quite adaptable in that it can be severely pruned and grown as a shrub. The foamy trusses of white, pink, mauve or purple blooms appear in late summer. In the autumn, the mid-green leaves turn yello, orange or red before falling. These trees have the most amazingly beautiful smooth, mottled coloured trunks. A personal favourite, I have to admit!

Claret Ash (Fraxinum angustifolia 'Raywood') one the easiest and most successful trees grown for autumn colour in frost-free climates. Their leaves really do develop into a variety of subtle hues of claret, often accompanied by pendulous clusters of winged seeds. Due to its ease of growing Claret Ash are often used as street trees.

Chinese Pistachio (Pistacia chinensis) a lovely small, fast-growing deciduous tree which has great autumn colour from bright orange to yellow or scarlet. The bark is dark grey with shallow furrows and has interesting pinnate leaves.

Diamond-leaf laurel (Auranticarpa rhombilfolia, syn. Pittosporum rhombifolium is an evergreen rainforest tree native to coastal northern NSW. In late spring, it is covered with white flowers which later turn into clusters of orange autumn fruit (which birds rarely eat) so these fruits persist into winter. Not real happy about heavy clay soils, it can be used as a hedge, large shrub or a semi-formal standard. 

So in conclusion, yes it is possible to have some wonderful colour although it has to be said, we will have to travel to colder climates to see eye-wateringly beautiful swathes of autumn colour.

Wednesday, 28 February 2018

Semi-Shade for Herbs

Perhaps here on the Coffs Coast we need to grow some of our herbs in semi-shaded positions to extend their harvest. This is most certainly the case for potted herbs - they can really get heat affected during hot days.

Some classic shade loving plants:

Basil - can be extended by growing in semi-shade and interestingly, it is tastier!

Chives - also a good one to have on hand and they don't mind a shaded position.

Coriander - this one is best grown in the winter here on the Coffs Coast, however if you want to give it a shot over the summer put in a really shaded area in your garden.

Ginger - will take some semi-shade as well as sunny positions. We have some that is huddled up against some Turmeric and they seem to get along quite well.

Horseradish can really take off.... so best to grow in deep pots.

Lemon balm - this is a relative of mint and doesn't mind being in semi-shade.

Lemongrass - will grow in either position, full sun or semi-shade however it does require regular watering.

Mint - everyone knows that these do well under a dripping tap but also tolerate shade very well. Best not to grow in the garden as mint can be a dominate plant!

Oregano - Golden, this one is more shade tolerant than ordinary oregano.

Parsley - both curly and Italian both grow well in a semi-shaded position and don't bolt to seed so readily.

Tarragon - French, this herb enjoys early morning sun to perform well.

Thyme - this little beauty can be tolerant of both sun and semi-shade, simply a must!

Wasabi - why not give this one a shot, interesting and fun, grate to make your own wasabi paste.

Friday, 23 February 2018

Spider Wasps

Image Brisbane Insects
Recently I saw quite a few of these insects in our garden, and of course it begged some research to discover if it was a good or bad guy!

Spider wasps (family Pompilidae) are solitary wasps. They prey on spiders to feed their larvae or they parasitise other spider wasps. They do not form colonies to defend nests and are not aggressive.

They are active in gardens during the summer months. They have a habit of flicking their wings on landing and moving with a jumping motion. I just could not get a decent image so have used an image from Brisbane Insects.

The wasps we would generally see are female wasps preparing nest chambers for their larvae. On finding a spider, which may be twice as heavy as itself eg a huntsman the wasp stings and paralyses it and then drags or flies it back to the burrow. She then lays an egg on the spider's body and seals it in a chamber or cell at the end of the burrow. The larva hatches and feeds on the body of the spider before pupating in a thin silky cocoon in the cell.

Some spider wasps sting the spider and lay an egg on it and leaves the spider in situ, the larva hatches and eats the spider. A small number of Spider Wasps steal spiders from other Spider Wasps for their own larva. This behaviour is known as klepto-parasitism.

Thursday, 15 February 2018


Flower of the Month - February 2018

KINGDOM:  Plantae

CLASS:  Magnoliopsida

ORDER:  Malvales

FAMILY:  Malvaceae (Mallow)

GENUS: Hibiscus L.

Beautiful red ones, beautiful pink ones, beautiful apricot ones, beautiful yellow ones. It is always so hard to pick a favourite.

Hibiscus tiliaceus - image Wikipedia
The Australian native hibiscus (Hibiscus tiliaceus) is a tree rather than a shrub and more commonly called, sea hibiscus, beach hibiscus, coastal hibiscus, coastal cottonwood, green cottonwood, native hibiscus, native rosella, cottonwood hibiscus. There are many growing around Coffs. The bronze foliaged variety is the tiliaceus rubra.

Bring along your favourite for the competition table this Saturday.

For more information on native Hibiscus' see this Gardening with Angus page.