Wednesday, 30 April 2014

Member Photography

North Coast Regional Botanic Garden

There are many treasures to be found in our own Botanic Garden including this wonderfully captured image from club member Laurie, just stunning. 

Tuesday, 29 April 2014

ConnectABLE Partnership with Community Care Options

The following article has been posted to the Community Care Options website and we have been given permission to post it to our website as well. This article is about one of our members Gavin, who is a valued member of our Club. He does suffer a mental illness however, this has not prevented him from participating in all aspects of our activities. Gavin, his parents Barbara & Michael and CHGC President Geoff, all talk with Kate Warner, Community Engagement Officer at Community Care Options.
Connect With…Coffs Harbour Garden Club
Meet Coffs Harbour Garden Club – one of our ConnectABLE project partners. The Coffs Harbour Garden Club has been around in one form or another for over 60 years. The club is very active with a strong membership base and is known for its generous support of community projects. We talk with President Geoff Bell and members Gavin, Michael and Barbara Reid about what makes the club inclusive and why it is a great social outlet for anyone who has an interest in gardening.
Why did Coffs Harbour Garden Club partner with CCO in the ConnectABLE project?
Geoff: Coffs Harbour Garden Club has for many years been an organisation that has welcomed people from CCO’s target groups within its membership so it seemed a very sensible thing to become part of the CCO social inclusion network once we found out that it existed.  We are a club that tries to ensure it offers something for everyone interested in gardening, together with opportunities to participate at a variety of levels in our club activities and operations.
What does being inclusive and accessible actually mean for community clubs and groups?
Geoff: Being inclusive is the easy bit in relation to a garden club, and I think we achieve reasonably well on that score.  Accessibility is definitely more of an issue for us, particularly because we make regular visits to a wide variety of gardens and other places of gardening interest and this requires a certain level of mobility and independence.  From a practical perspective, it could mean that if someone with higher support needs wants to get involved in the club, they might need to have their carer(s) come along with them.
Gavin sharing some photos of his beloved garden
Gavin – how did you come to join the club?
Gavin: I love gardening. When we moved to Coffs a few years ago I joined the garden club. We had some friends who were already involved so that helped a little bit and now I know most of the members really well.
Michael: I came along with Gavin for the first meeting to make sure he felt comfortable and then he was fine after that.
Barbara: The club has outings so we recently went to one with Gavin to try something new and after that we joined too.
In what way is the club inclusive? Why would anyone feel welcome to get involved?
Gavin: I was diagnosed with schizophrenia when I was 13 and I probably had it a while before that. I’ve had some struggles over the years and times when I haven’t fitted in with groups but in general I’ve found the Coffs community really welcoming. The garden club were really friendly and acknowledged me for my broad knowledge of plants and for what I had to offer. I’m usually pretty shy but I’m a lot less shy after joining the club. People in the club are accessible and friendly and that has helped a lot.
What could you offer the club?
Gavin: I don’t have any formal qualifications but I have done a lot of personal research and study. My particular interest is tropical plants. I’ve built a tropical garden and Bali hut from scratch at home and this has won 2 prizes for best garden feature. A while ago I put my hand up to hold plant of the month talks for the club so I get up and talk in front of everyone – that’s something I wouldn’t have done before. A lot of people have said that I am a really valued member of the club.
Gavin with his parents Barbara and Michael
Michael: Gavin has a particular ability to remember information about plants. His knowledge is almost encyclopaedic. The club respects this knowledge and always refer to him if there is a bit of doubt about something plant-related.
What is it about gardening that you love so much? How does this help you with your illness?
Gavin's beautiful garden
Gavin: I love watching the plants grow and being a part of that environment. In my garden I can experience the tropics from home without even having to go anywhere. I go into my Bali hut to relax and this really helps me. The physical side of gardening also helps me stay fit.
How do members of the club know how to support you if you are feeling unwell?
Gavin: I’ve never really exhibited any ‘positive symptoms’ of my illness – things like hallucinations – while doing club activities. If I’m feeling bad, I need to keep my mind off it so I ask people to help me do that by talking to me about general things. That really helps me through. Mental illness can be very debilitating because it’s disabling mentally and physically. When you’re unwell your mind and body get tired and its hard to function.
Michael and Barbara – as Gavin’s parents, what have you noticed about his wellbeing since joining the club?
Michael: It’s been very positive for him.
Barbara: Gavin lives at home which helps him manage but now he has a separate group of friends to us which is great. Or maybe not now that we’ve joined the club too!
What would you say to other people living with disability or mental illness who might be interested in getting involved in a community activity such as the Coffs Harbour Garden Club?
Gavin: That’s a hard question because I know what’s best for me, but not for someone else. For me, I just wanted to be around people without mental illness. I was involved in a community group years ago that consisted of other people living with mental illness. I found I didn’t have anything in common with them other than my illness. That wasn’t a positive experience for me. I can identify with other members of the garden club because we share a love of plants. I would say the club is a very friendly organisation and welcome you with open arms. They will look after you like they have me. If you love plants, you already have a like minded interest and something in common.

For more information about Community Connect Options please visit

Monday, 21 April 2014

Loopers and Semi-Loopers

Geometridae - Latin name means 'earth measurer'

Many Geometridae caterpillars pull their bodies into loops as they move as they lack the first two or three pairs of ventral prolegs. Therefore looping is their best means of progression and this movement gives them some of their names - Inch Worms because they measure off one inch as they progress. This method is especially suitable for moving over rough terrain. Some Caterpillars of this family are also called Twig Caterpillars because they can raise themselves and stand on their claspers, sticking straight out at an angle and so looking quite like a twig. Geometridae mostly pupate in leaf litter or in the soil in a flimsy cocoon.

Many of the adult moths are remarkable for their camouflaged wing patters. These patterns, often wavy lines, extend across both fore and hind wings. These moths rest with wings outspread, and tightly pressed against the surface on which they are sitting. The curved markings may be the origin of their common name: 'Waves'.

Some of these moths have metallic-looking markings on their wings however, most have dull coloured wings.

Noctuidae - The adult (moths) mainly fly at night, feeding on nectar from flowers and their nocturnal habits gave the family it's Latin name.

These are usually smooth, lacking any obvious hairs and their bodies are often green, brown or yellow and striped longitudinally. Noctuidae include many pests of crop and garden plants - the 'cutworms' live in the soil near the soil surface and they bite off young plants just above ground level at night, pulling them into their burrow. Others climb the plant and pull leaves down into the soil. Some are called 'Armyworms' because they eat their way across a paddock like an army on the march. Many species of this family are semi-loopers.

Most species of Noctuidae pupate in the soil, although a few pupate in a sparse cocoon under a leaf of their food source.
Plants affected: Geometridae: Wattles (Acacia), banksias (Banksia) and some others are susceptible.
Noctuidae: A wide range, including potatoes, beans and tomatoes; plants under glass can also be attacked.

Prevention and control:
Chemical: Spray with carbaryl.
Non-chemical/organic: Pick off caterpillars by hand.

The Duke & Duchess of Cambridge Visit The Royal

Jenny Dudley and The Duchess of Cambridge discussing the wonderful Australian Native competition exhibits

The last occasion a member of the Royal family visited the Show was in 1988 when the Queen was in Australia during the Bicentennial celebrations and this was to the 'old' showground at Moore Park. Once again the Show lived up to its royal name on Friday when the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge were warmly welcomed by President Glenn Dudley and wife Jennifer along with thousands of show goers.

First stop on the tour was the Fresh Food Dome to look at the District Exhibits and speak with some of the folk from each District. This year Northern District (our region) took out all honors in this competition and were very proud of their soft Alpaca Wool but Kate commented on the fleece for other reasons -  she suggested her husband could use some soft Alpaca wool to conceal his thinning hair! When Ms Cregan from Glen Innes revealed she used hair lacquer on the pumpkins to give them extra shine, the Duke said he would try that trick next Halloween. Hundreds watched the couple move through the hall, viewing exhibits from producers from across NSW and South East Queensland. The displays are the largest of their kind in the world, with more than 10,000 fresh pieces of produce included in their displays. These exhibits are always on the agenda of most people who visit the show as they are always so spectacular and this year is no exception.

The new Southee and Badgery Pavilion, home to the Show's Arts & Crafts, Fashion & Style and Flower & Garden Show saw them unveil the plaque on this brand new 10,000 square metre exhibition facility. In the Flower & Garden Show the Duchess was presented with a posy of Australian Natives made by past Chair of Horticulture, Cecily Rogers and presented by Horticulture Chair, Marianne Paynter. The Royal couple were 'blown away' by the beautiful, colourful exhibits of Australian Flora. There were twelve classes of Australian Native competitions as well as competitions for Bonsai, Carnivorous Plants, Dahlias and Decorative on Friday. 

How could one go to the show and not see any animals? The final stop was the Cox Pavilion for Sheep & Wool where Catherine met the 2013 winner of Wool4Skool, Sophie Alyward, who showcased her winning wool design. Here they met Fred the six year old ram whose fleece went into a suit that was presented to the Duke on the occasion of his wedding. Fred stole the show however, when he bowed to the Duchess - all that practice paid off!

They didn't however, have time to pick up a Bertie Beetle showbag for George......

Monday, 14 April 2014

Steve McGrane at the Royal

What a pleasant surprise to see a local from Coffs at the Royal - Steve McGrane in the Tech Arena. Steve is helping to get the Ag Innovations message across. 
Australia’s agricultural industries are proud of their innovation and technology. The Ag Innovations showcase at the Royal Easter Show is focusing on issues facing agriculture in the immediate future and highlighting solutions which innovators have developed to answer these challenges. 

Our Club is visiting Steve's Permaculture principled garden at Korora on Tuesday 22 April. We are then going to have lunch at Beachstone Cafe at North Sapphire and then check out Treasurer Simon & Jeannine's foundation garden. Should be an interesting outing.

Wednesday, 2 April 2014

Airport Garden

The dicky knee and dodgy hip brigade once again descended on the airport gardens armed with picks and Panadol. Some couldn’t bend, and some couldn’t lift, but between them, they managed to scrape together a bin full of clippings, leaving the gardens looking pristine once again. Well done to Peter, Simon, Helen, Alf and Jim W.
Thanks for this report Simon.  So it would seem that the Airport 'Welcome to Coffs' air-side gardens are once again looking pretty spiffy! Well done team.

Tuesday, 1 April 2014


April 2014 flower of the month: Ixora

Common names: Jungle Flame, Flame of the Woods, Jungle Geranium, Needle Flower, West Indian Jasmine

Prince of Orange
An evergreen shrub with erect, densely packed branches, Ixoras come in all shapes, sizes and colours - some growing to 50cm and others growing to 1-2m in height. With such a wide range of flower colours including pink, orange, yellow and even white this showy and elegant shrub is a must for the Coffs garden. It seems to thrive in our climate, most will grow in sun or shade and have flowers in massed heads throughout the year.

Originally from China and Malaysia Ixoras may be used as border plants, shrubbery or pots - it would appear in any application!

President's Message - April 2014

Many members have given me positive feedback recently about the increase in the gardening content at our monthly meetings.  It’s great to hear this, because we are, after all, a garden club and we need to be talking about gardening.  But our meetings are only part of what the club does when it comes to gardening information and advice.  Here are a few examples of what I mean:

· The monthly outings that our hard-working Program Committee organise on our behalf take us to some wonderful gardens all around the Coffs Coast region where we can learn a massive amount from the work of fellow gardeners.

· We have a fantastic website (thanks to Maria) which contains a wealth of information as well as links to other sites where people can get more information on gardening.

· There will shortly be opportunities to attend special workshops on topics of interest.  This is a new initiative of the club (thanks to Bob Tarry), and is something we will continue to develop when there is significant interest in a particular area.  The first of these workshops will be held later in the year on orchids.  Other possible workshops are already on the drawing board.

· Our competition table provides examples of the wonderful gardening expertise of our members.  Check out who is exhibiting fine specimens of what you’re interested in and ask them about how to grow plants of the same quality yourself.

· We have a wealth of experience in our club on all types of gardening with people only too happy to share their expertise.  All you need do is ask.

· Our newsletter contains things like brief cultivation notes on the Flower of the Month, a variety of gardening tips and club happenings.  And of course I must mention the horticultural quiz – how many questions did you get right last month?

So I encourage everyone to take full advantage of what the club offers.  Go on the outings, enter the competitions, attend a workshop, share your expertise, contribute ideas and the time to bring these to reality.  In other words make the most of your membership of our club

Gardeners' Tips - April 2014

  • It's a really good time to propagate evergreen trees and shrubs like rosemary, camellia and gardenia.
  • Look after next season's fruiting by removing any spoiled or fallen fruit to reduce the risk of pests next season. Bury fruit at least half a metre deep or dispose of it in your green bin.
  • Feed your lawns now with a good quality lawn fertiliser, remembering to water in well to avoid fertiliser burn. Then mow as high as possible from early May. This combination will help control winter grasses and bindiis etc, as well as help to ensure the grass itself stays healthy during the drier times of the year.
  • It's also a good time to propagate your frangipani by using firm cuttings up to 2 metres long. Dip the pruning wounds in sulphur powder, then wait a week before inserting your cuttings in fresh propagating mix. Frangipani are semi-succulent and so keep the propagating mix slightly dry. It is also possible to insert cuttings directly into the ground, but you might find you get better results by using the propagating mix method before planting.

Safety Tips - April 2014

Working outside in high temperatures can cause serious health problems. These problems can be minmised by doing the following:

  • Plan to work either early in the morning or late in the day, remember that only "mad dogs and Englishmen go out in the midday sun".
  • Make a conscious effort to drink plenty of fluids. BUT - avoid drinking fluids that contain alcohol, caffeine or large amounts of sugar as these can actually cause you to lose more body fluid than you take in.
  • Don't push yourself too hard and take breaks often. Try to rest in shaded areas that have a breeze so that your body's thermostat has a good opportunity to recover.
  • Wear light, breathable clothing and a hat. Avoid synthetic material where possible.
  • Most importantly, pay attention to the signs of heat-related illness including extremely high body temperature, headache, paleness and sweating, rapid pulse, muscle cramps, headache, dizziness, nausea and vomiting, confusion and fainting.