Thursday, 14 March 2019


Flower of the Month - March 2019

KINGDOM:  Plantae

CLASS:   Magnoliopsida

ORDER:  Malvales

FAMILY:  Malvaceae (Mallow)

GENUS:  Hibiscus L.

Jerry from Gardening Australia says there is a hibiscus for every garden. With its colourful flowers and often pretty foliage, the species choice is huge; here are a few: 

Hibiscus syriacus: Rose of Sharon - has white, mauve, blue, red, pink or lavender blooms, all with a crimson eye.

Hibiscus tiliaceus: Mangrove or cotton hibiscus has yellow or white single flowers; a purple-leafed form is available. Tolerates salt spray. Forms a tree, shrub or windbreak. Evergreen (or tiliaceus rubra with red leaves).

Hibiscus schizopetalus: Elegant, pendulous pink, red or white flowers have keeply dissected petals. Japanese lantern is a bird-attracting shrub for the garden or containers.

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, native hibiscus, native rosella, cottonwood hibiscus. There are many growing around the Coffs Coast. 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.

Thursday, 28 February 2019

Corindi - Ranges, Blueberries, Seascapes, Plants & Companionship

Our Garden Clubs of Australia motto of 'Friendship through gardens' really lived up to itself today with the combined Woolgoolga and Coffs Harbour Garden Clubs' outing to Corindi. 

Corindi (which is pronounced Cor-in-dye' according to long time residents) was also known as Pipeclay Beach until its name change in 1954. Corindi means 'grey' in local indigenous language referring to the pipeclay on the beach. Today Corindi is better known for blueberry farming with immense farms to the west and north west. At this February 2019 outing we had the pleasure of travelling through some of these pristine farms - some of us more so than others as we got LOST....... Did you know they are now growing blueberry bushes in pots? That was one observation today on our intrepid journey in Upper Corindi.

The first destination was off Red Range Road, Upper Corindi and was a vast acreage garden with the most amazingly beautiful outlook.

In the image on the top left is a Boab tree and yes, with all that lovely foliage growing atop. This garden is maintained by some very neat folk - just take a look how the stakes are stored. Pineapples abounded edging the paths throughout the orchard.

The second garden visited in the village of Corindi was a normal sized town block. This gardener was just so generous and wanted any of the members to take cuttings of anything in her garden. Her love of her 'space' was evident in her enthusiasm and willingness to share.

Lunch was quite a very tasty and most welcomed break in our garden journey, such interesting food and enjoyed by the members.

After lunch we went off to Corindi Public School where the kids are doing some fantastic work in their kitchen garden. Each week they take it turns to spend time both in the kitchen cooking and in the garden. They use produce that the school has grown in their raised gardens beds for their cookery lesson. 

Our outings coordinator Marg did the honours of reading out the briefing before we could move throughout the School and grounds. 

Thanks goes of course to the wonderful gardeners who opened their gates to allow the two clubs to visit and also the Corindi Public School for allowing us to see what the kids are up to in their garden. Margaret Franks as usual did so well to find such interesting destinations for our outing, thanks Marg.

Friday, 15 February 2019


Flower of the Month - February 2019

KINGDOM:  Plantae

FAMILY:  Lamiaceae

GENUS:  Salvia

SPECIES:  Hundreds

There are over 700 species within the genus Salvia. Salvia officinalis is common sage that we love so much with chicken and salvia spendens is that red Bunnings annual salvia that self seeds so well you only ever have to buy it once.

The perennial salvias which come in every colour possible and grow so well in Coffs have an added benefit - they attract some interesting bees.

Bring along your favourite for the competition table this meeting - 16 Feb 2019.

Further information on this genus:

Comprising about 900 species of annuals, perennials and soft-wooded evergreen shrubs, this genus is the largest in the mint family. They can be found naturally in temperate and sub-tropical regions throughout the world (with the exception of Australasia) and grow in a wide range of habitats, from coastal to alpine.

A number of Salvia species are used for culinary (see left S.elegans which is usually grown for its pineapple-scented leaves)  and medicinal purposes and the genus name is derived from the Latin salvare, meaning to heal or save. Although it might be best to stay away from S.divinorumwhich is a psychoactive plant which can induce visions and other altered and spiritual experiences!

Most species are hairy to some degree and have foliage that is aromatic when crushed or rubbed. 

The flowers are tubular with the petals split into 2 lips, which may be straight or flaring. 

The flowers vary greatly in size, and the colour range is amazing as it moves through shades of blue to purple, and pink to red, as well as white and some yellows.

Most Salvia are best grown in full sun and they require a well-drained position. Generally, the shrubby plants dislike heavy wet soils however they seem to cope with Coffs Coast conditions. Propagation is dead easy from soft-wood cuttings taken throughout the growing season. 

Since this post was written the January 2016 issue of Gardening Australia has been published and there is a beaut article titled 'Celebration of Salvias'.  I couldn't obtain a link for this article but have a linked an ABC factsheet on growing Salvias here. 

Tuesday, 12 February 2019

Rhipsalis Mistletoe Cactus

image World of Succulents
This presentation was requested by member Mary B. - Thanks Jane for preparing it.

Rhipsalis mistletoe cactus from blogpwrpnt

If you are interested in harvesting the seeds please see this Youtube presentation.

Monday, 11 February 2019

Meeting Competition Table

The following information is about the competition table at our monthly meetings. This allows an opportunity for our members to display their beautiful blooms, potted plants, fruits and vegetables at our monthly meetings AND go into the running for prizes at the end of the year.

There are two CHGC members who volunteer to judge this monthly competition. After the November meeting all cumulative points are processed to find 1st, 2nd and 3rd place-getters. There is also a random prize draw for anyone who has tabled exhibits over the year.

    • Entry is FREE
    • There are bottles provided but you may want to bring your entries already in bottles - this saves time!
    • You can have as many or as few entries as you wish in each category. 
    • When you enter the meeting room and after signing the attendance book (for insurance purposes) you will find a box containing numbered yellow envelopes on the competition table. 
    • Just pick up the next envelope in line. 
    • Write that number with your name against it in the competition table book.
    • Place your entries in the various categories with your allocated little number close to your entry.
    • Return the envelope to the back of the number box.
    • If you are concerned about what category to place your specimen, just ask any of the members who regularly have entries on the Table, or Margaret who does the judging. 
    • Only one cut or stem is required for each entry that has * next to it on the following list. 
    • Please note the difference between a bunch and collection below. 
    • The Royal Horticultural Society of NSW Judging Standards and Guidelines for Horticultural Competitions and Exhibitions have been used in drawing up this list and their judging.
    • Competition Table Categories:   
Cacti & Succulents
Flowering Shrub*
Flowering Pot Plant
Non-flowering Pot Plant
Vine and Climber*
Bulb, Corm, Rhizome*
Orchid* (or pot)
Flower of the Month(advised in newsletter and web)
Rose, Hybrid Tea*
Rose, Multi stem*
Rose, Mini*
Cut Flowers, Bunch (same flower, 5 or more cuts)
Cut Flowers, collection (different flowers, 5 or more cuts)
Cut Flower single*
Floral Art
Herbs, single bunch
Herbs, collection (more than 3 varieties)
Fruit small x 3 pieces. large x 1
Vegetable small x 3, large x 1, leaves x 5 (bunch)
Vegetable, collection (more than 3 varieties)
Most Interesting Plant

NOTE: There has been changes to the categories and these are in bold.

Friday, 1 February 2019


Whitefly are small white moth-like flies. If you give your plant a shake (in my case our mint) lots of tiny white flies burst into flight.

They are small pests that feed by piercing and sucking sap from plants, causing the leaves to go yellow and mottled. Eggs are laid on the undersides of leaves and hatch in about 8 days. Both newly hatched 'crawlers' and adults feed by sucking the sap from the underside of the leaf.

Both the adults and nymphs secrete lots of waste called honeydew which in turn attracts ants and can cause sooty mould to develop. 

The female whitefly lays around 200 eggs. When they hatch nymphs move about for a few days but then settle into one position where they remain until eventually turning into winged adults. Companion planting with nasturtiums can often help as will yellow sticky tapes.

As silly as it sounds vacuuming in the early morning and freezing for some hours is one very effective and organic approach to getting rid of whitefly. 

Comb-crested Jacana

Have you seen this cute bird? The comb-crested Jacana occupy coastal and sub-coastal regions from the Kimberleys in Western Australia, through northern Australia and down the east coast of New South Wales. They are more common in the north though and they also occur in New Guinea, Indonesia and the Philippines.

The dad is the dedicated carer of their young and will hoist them up under his wings to remove them from danger.

Today I read a neat article written by Emma Siosian on ABC Mid North Coast about this bird. It has some wonderful images of a dad with his chicks under his wings, an interesting read (well for me it was).

Tuesday, 15 January 2019

Powdery Mildew

A very common fungal disease, powdery mildew attacks a broad range of plants. It looks like a white or grey powder coating leaves of plants and spreads rapidly over foliage. On some plants it will also attach and distort young stems and flower buds - the infected tissue withers and dies.

This is one that demands fast action because of its rapid growth and also to prevent its spread to other plants. If left untreated powdery mildew will kill most annuals and significantly weaken other plants.

Plants that are susceptible include grapes, roses, peas, geraniums, hydrangeas, gerberas, rosemary, mint, zucchini, annuals and crepe myrtles.

The most efficient organic way to curb powdery mildew is to hit it with eco-fungicide or eco-rose (both of which will destroy the fungal growth on contact) and will leave a protective coating against new spores germinating. 

By adding seaweed product to the spray this will also help the plants to recover by strengthening their foliage to fight off further attacks and reduce the stress to the plant. Any affected leaves should be removed and destroyed.

Tuesday, 1 January 2019

Coffs Harbour Garden Club celebrates 40 years

Allen Taylor's sawmill and Park Beach Plaza at a very early stage of construction,
Coffs Harbour, March 6, 1979. Image John Rotar

Just to help you recall 1979 - Sir Zelman Cowen was the Governor General, Malcolm Fraser Prime Minister, Bill Hayden Opposition Leader and Neville Wran NSW Premier. By the way it was Premier Wran who allowed pubs to open on Sundays in New South Wales in that year too!

On the 19th April 1979 a motion was carried at the Coffs Harbour Horticultural Society meeting to change the name of the Society to Coffs Harbour Garden Club. The Horticultural Society had been established in 1950 for the purposes of tidying up and beautifying the town of Coffs Harbour. It was very successful and well supported, just a mere 18 months after its inauguration the Horticultural Society, was able to boast an attendance of 100 people at its AGM in June 1952!

Mr A. McLauchlan became the first President of Coffs Harbour Garden Club (rather than Chairman as in the Horticultural Society) and subscriptions remained at the princely sum of 20 cents per member.

An AGM was conducted on that day in April 1979 with 19 members present and seven apologies, and all positions were filled - President, two Vice-Presidents, Secretary and Treasurer.

The activities of the club at that time were similar to those carried out by the Garden Club today. There was involvement with the local Agricultural Show, and to raise funds, street stalls were held plus morning teas at members' homes. 

At meetings a plant and flower competition was conducted, along with a question box and raffles. Surplus funds were donated to various worthy causes. Entertainment at the meetings consisted of slides of famous gardens and other gardens, with a guest speaker every second month.

2019 marks the 40th Anniversary of the name change from Coffs Harbour Horticultural Society to Coffs Harbour Garden Club. The contribution since 1950 to the Coffs Harbour area from the Horticultural Society and what is now known as Coffs Harbour Garden Club has been considerable over the past 69 years.

Coffs Harbour Garden Club continues to support the Coffs Harbour community in several ways.  Perhaps most important of these is the annual Spring Garden Competition, which seeks to encourage our residents, businesses and community organisations to do their bit to help beautify our city through their gardens.  Club members also give their time and expertise in looking after the airside gardens at Coffs Harbour Regional Airport, providing a welcoming environment for the many thousands of people who use the airport each year.  And of course our Club continues to provide opportunities for Coffs Harbour people to enjoy the friendship that comes from a shared passion for gardens and gardening.

So 2019 marks the 40th Anniversary of what is known as Coffs Harbour Garden Club - let the party begin!


Spittlebugs are interesting insects, the nymph produces a white frothy substance on stems and leaves which looks just like spittle! Hidden underneath that froth is the juvenile busily sucking out sap from the plant. This froth serves to protect the youngster from adverse weather conditions, reduce the risk of dehydration and to deter parasites and predator attack.

The insect adult (pictured above) has a narrow curved horn on the front of the head. It is brown and can be found here on the Coffs Coast. Even though they are sap suckers they rarely cause significant damage.

If they offend you they can be hosed off or the affected part of the plant can be pruned off. They usually take up residence in natives including wattles, gum trees and casuarinas.