Thursday, 28 May 2015

Saturday, 23 May 2015

Gardeners' Diary - May 2015


Flanders Poppy seeds in an open sunny area.
Summer flowering bulbs such as agapanthus, clivia, pampas lily, calla, society garlic, ilium and vallota.
Sweet peas, an all time favourite, even though they don't flower for long in Coffs.
Nasturtiums, terrific for ground covering suppression of weeds and as a culinary herb.
Seed producing native grasses or small flowering natives to provide habitat for birds and insects.
Spring onions and chives.
Broad beans, plant direct and harvest from September.
Peas, plant successive weeks as they only crop for around 4 weeks.
Coriander, keep planting to have successive crop.


Take 20cm semi-hardwood cuttings from butterfly bush to give away to friends.
Lift, divide and replant daylilies into enriched soil - trim tops and roots before replanting. This method can also be used for agapanthus.


Cut off all the dead material from your asparagus clumps, if you are likely to forget where they are positioned, put a stake beside them and label.
Tip prune passionfruit vines to promote lateral growth and more flowers.
Bottlebrush, if you haven't yet given them a tidy up, remove old flowers before they go to seed.

Native fuchsia Correa spp. A light trim as they finish flowering to encourage dense growth, apply some native fertilizer at the same time.
Inspect tea tree  and melaleuca for webbing caterpillars, which resemble very dense spider webs. Prune the affected leaves and put them in your green waste bin.


Be diligent with your citrus and leaf miner, cut off the affected leaves and apply white oil weekly for three weeks to bark and leaves.

Wednesday, 20 May 2015

Gavin's Plant of the Month - Xanthostemon chrysanthus

The common name for Xanthostemon chrysanthus is the Golden Penda. 

It is a beautiful rainforest tree native to North Queensland and grown for its attractive yellow flowers. In its natural habitat the tree can grow to 30 metres but in cultivation it will only grow to 10 metres. 

The Golden Penda is in the Myrtacea family, related to Lillypillies and Eucalypts and the flowers are very similar, having lots of stamens grouping together in a big bunch. 

The flowers give way to seed capsules a centimetre wide.

Even though the tree can grow tall it doesn't grow very wide and tends to branch close to the ground in the garden. The crown is dense and dark consisting of narrow leaves 20cm long with a smooth grey trunk.

The Golden Penda is commonly cultivated and is widely planted as a street tree in Coffs Harbour giving a spectacular display in the landscape. 

In the garden it requires rich well drained soil and full sun to flower well. It is hardy and will grow fast in good conditions. The Golden Penda will flower at an early age around Autumn but can spot flower at any time and birds love the flowers. It makes a great privacy screen and a perfect addition to a native or rainforest garden.

Tuesday, 19 May 2015

Monday, 18 May 2015

President's Message - May 2015

Firstly could I just say a very big thank you to Margaret Franks and Peter Kimber and all members of the club who worked in the pavilion at this year's Coffs Harbour Show. Special thanks to Janny Hoy who used her imagination brilliantly to fulfill the brief for the non-competitive Community Floral Display, which advertised our club with details of meeting time and place. Although I understand entries were down a bit in the horticulture section, the Show still provided some excellent examples of the fantastic flowers, plants, fruit and vegies that our local gardeners grow. Well done to all.

As you know, we run our own little 'show' at each month's Club meeting. There are plenty of categories on the competition table and I encourage you all to exhibit some of the wonderful things I know you all grow. Your points accumulate each month and the people with the three highest scores at the end of the year will all receive a prize at the Club Christmas party. So the more categories you enter each month, the more points you can score, and the greater chance you'll have of winning one of these fantastic prizes. There will also be a wonderful random prize draw for everyone else who exhibits on the competition table during the year, so make sure you bring something along to each club meeting.

The other thing I thought I'd write about in this edition of our newsletter is the importance of Botanic Gardens to us gardeners. My immediate inspiration for this was a recent visit to the Blue Mountains Botanic Garden at Mt Tomah, the initial planning and development of which was undertaken in the early 1970s by a good friend of mine, Warwick Watson, who worked at the time at the Royal Botanic Garden in Sydney.

Effie and Alfred Brunet acquired the property in 1934 for a cut-flower farm to supply Sydney florists. The land was donated to the Royal Botanic Garden Sydney by the Brunet family in 1972 and opened to the public on 1 November 1987. If you have an opportunity to visit Mt Tomah make sure you take it, and definitely allow plenty of time as it contains myriads of well signed plants and some great ideas for garden landscaping. Pack a picnic too as there are some lovely spots to stop and break your visit to these stunning gardens.

Our Regional Botanic Garden in Coffs Harbour is also a wonderful resource for local and visiting gardeners. I truly enjoy wandering around the Garden checking out what grows well in our climate and seeing how the staff and volunteers who work in the Garden (including some of our club members) show it off to best advantage.  I'm sure spending time there will definitely pay off for you by increasing your knowledge and providing you with ideas to implement in your own gardens. The CHGC June outing is a walk around the Coffs Botanic Garden.

Saturday, 16 May 2015

Stick Insect

Stick insect females are capable of reproducing without having to go through the effort of finding a mate. Her unfertilised eggs will hatch into female clones of herself, however in the interests of genetic diversity she will still need to go out and find a man if she can. Mum stick insect will lay her eggs by simply dropping them to the ground. During her life (around 9 months) she will drop between 100 to 1300 eggs.

Their eggs resemble small seeds with a fatty capsule on one end, called the capitulum. A passing ant will take the egg thinking its a seed and carry it to its nest. Once the ants have eaten the capitulum, they toss the rest of the egg onto the colony's underground garbage heap, here the eggs will safely incubate away from predators. When the nymphs hatch, they quickly make their way out of the ant nest and up the nearest tree.

Stick insects are highly evolved to avoid detection. They hate conflict because they don't have any way to fight off an attacker so it's important that they hide away from predators' eyes. Inventive camouflage helps stick insects blend into their surroundings. 

To avoid detection they also like to do a swaying dance when they move around, to look like a stick swaying in the breeze, and they also do most of their activities at night.

Friday, 1 May 2015


Flower of the Month - May 2015

Banksia is a member of the protea (proteaceae) family and is a genus of around 170 species named after Sir Joseph Banks who was the first European to collect specimens of these plants in 1770.

With their beacon-like blooms they range from groundcovers to trees and just about everything in between!  Despite being such a popular Australian plant, there are some banksias listed as rare or threatened eg, Banksia brownii, the Feather-leaved Banksia and Banksia verticillata, the Granite Banksia both of whom are endemic to the South Western corner of WA between the coast and the Stirling Ranges.

South western Australia contains the greatest diversity of banksias, with 60 species recorded. They are also an important part of the flora of Australia's eastern coast. Few banksias are found in the arid regions of Australia or in the rainforests of the eastern coast. There are no species which are common to eastern and western Australia except Tropical Banksia, Banksia dentata, which occurs across northern Australia, in Papua New Ginea, Irian Jaya and the Aru Islands.

Most species prefer an open sunny position and well-drained sandy soil low in phosphorus.  Species native to Western Australia are prone to root-rot fungus and generally do not grow well in Coffs where our main rainfall is in the summer.

The flower heads are made up of hundreds of tiny individual flowers grouped together in pairs. These heads produce large volumes of nectar and attract many birds and small mammals to feed on them. The colour of the flower heads usually ranges from pale creamy yellow to red. Although there are some lovely almost iridescent green ones as well. 

The fruits of banksias (called follicles) are hard and woody and are often grouped together to resemble cones. The fruits protect the seeds from foraging animals and from fire. In many species the fruits will not open until they have been burnt or completely dried out.

Formative pruning is important if you desire compact growth so any vigorous growing shoots on your young plant should be tip pruned to encourage the plant to branch out from the base.

Maintenance pruning (after flowering) can just consist of snapping off the spent flowers, pruning back any dead or dying wood or any unsightly leggy growth. Example left of a Banksia that is overdue for a little tidy up!

You can sacrifice a little bit of older wood but keep as much as you can because that’ll produce more blooms for next year and help with the compact shape. At this time apply some low phosphorous native plant food.

Flowering season, depending on the species - Summer, Autumn and Winter.