Sunday, 20 December 2015

Merry Christmas

Wishing all CHGC website readers, their family and friends a happy, safe and joyous Christmas season. 

I wish all of you AND your gardens the very best of health and vigour in 2016.

Saturday, 19 December 2015

Sizzling Success!

Andrea, Marie & Ray

The recent Bunnings BBQ was not only a lot of fun for those members of CHGC who helped out on the day, it also raised some very valuable funds for our premier event of the year - the Spring Garden Competition.

Whilst we get significant support for the Competition from our sponsors and supporters, these community BBQs really help in providing the Club with the essential cash that we need to run the Spring Garden Competition as professionally as possible.  

Ray, Chief Organiser Simon, Graham & Peter (cooking up a storm) & Marie

So a very big thank you to everyone who helped out with the Bunnings BBQ, as well as to Simon for organising it again this year.

Sunday, 13 December 2015

The Flip-side of Living on the Coffs Coast

Yes, we do live in a wonderful environment here on the Coffs Coast however, there is one aspect that perhaps we could do without - Ticks. 

Most gardeners have had experience of these little blighters but the following story from ABC Catalyst is really quite alarming. 

There was one positive from this episode though, and that was the most effective method of tick removal.

Please click here to view the Catalyst segment.

This was recently sent to me from CHGC member Robyne: To get rid of a TICK
A nurse discovered a safe and easy way to remove ticks, making it less traumatic for the patient and easier for you.
Here's a way to eliminate them on you, your children and your pets.
Apply a small amount of liquid soap on a cotton ball
Cover the tick with the soap soaked cotton ball
Blot it for a few seconds ( 15-20 )
The tick will spontaneously detach and stick to the cotton as you remove it.
Notify everyone! This may help so many, especially with those hard to reach areas.

Tip: Keep liquid soap & cotton balls in your summer first aid kit.

Thanks Robyne for this handy hint for what is a real problem for us here on the Coffs Coast.

Wednesday, 9 December 2015

Introducing New Postal Charges

Snail Mail Charges

From 4 January 2016 there will be price (and speed) changes to our postal system. Foremost is that the charge for a regular envelope will increase to $1 with increases to all other sizes too.

There will also be changes to the speed of delivery - Express Post will continue to provide guaranteed next business day delivery with tracking (to same area and capital city delivery - not between capital city and country areas like Coffs Harbour).

The Priority letters will be delivered 1-4 business days (also dependant where in Australia) to obtain this service it looks like there will be an additional 50c surcharge for this service.

Regular postage will be delivered up to 2 business days longer than Priority speed. These regular letters can be posted in red street posting boxes or over the counter at your local Post Office.

It has to be wondered if the delivery of the CHGC newsletter will take longer with these changes. At the moment I can post them at Moonee on a Monday and most folk have the newsletter in their letter box by Wednesday. We will have to wait and see!

Tuesday, 8 December 2015

President's Message - December 2015

Christmas is, of course, fast approaching and the Club will be having a well deserved break for a week or two, with nothing on our calendar until we need to do a quick tidy up at the Coffs Regional Airport on Wednesday 6 January.

I hope everyone enjoys this time and comes back refreshed and full of stories about the massive pumpkins you've been growing, or the beautiful flowers that I know you all have in your gardens. And please don't forget that our first meeting of the new year will be held at the Botanic Gardens on Saturday 16 January 2016. I look forward to seeing you all there.

Bob Tarry has kindly put his name forward for election as Vice President for 2016, but no-one has yet nominated for the Treasurer/Public Officer position. We need to resolve this before the meeting in January and so if anyone, including our newer members, has the financial skills and is willing to serve our Club in this capacity, please give me a call to discuss what's involved.

Please note that if you are looking for details about any of the happenings or events within our club all you need do is refer to the back page of the monthly newsletter, or you can also go to our website,, where you will find this information on the right hand side of the Home Page. Maria goes to great lengths to ensure there is easy access to everything you need to know about what's happening in the Club well in advance (or as soon as she's informed). I would encourage everyone to make a note of Club events and activities, or simply record them in your diary. That way you'll be sure to know what's going on and therefore be able to make the most of the opportunities the Club has to offer. This is especially important when it comes to outings, workshops and other important events on the Club calendar.

Finally, I would just like to wish everyone in the Club a very happy Christmas, a safe and enjoyable holiday season, and a wonderful 2016. Thank you all for your "Friendship through Gardens" in 2015.

See you all next year.

Geoff Bell

Monday, 7 December 2015

Xmas Party 2015 at Opal Cove

Bob, Laurie, Annette & Robyne

George, Gavin & Sonja

Margaret, Mary, Marie, Irene

Gloria, Warwick

Our grinning past Secretary, Andrea

Coralie & Kath

The beautiful Reid family - Barbara, Michael and ever popular, 'Tropical/SubT'  Gavin

Marie & Graham

Gloria, Warwick, Lyla & Daphne

Pat & Myles chatting with Marie

Margaret looking very jolly

Patron Julie and Kath

Sue looking gorgeous in her Santa hat

Chief Judge Ray talking about the competition this year.

3rd place getter Andrea

Equal 2nd place getters, Simon (the veggie king) & Mary with Judge Ray

Encouragement Award winner President Geoff with Judge Ray

Supreme Champion for the Competition Table, Pat with Ray

Friday, 4 December 2015

The National Arboretum, Canberra

The National Arboretum Canberra (250 hectares) was created after the devastating bushfires which raged through this area in 2003. Prior to the bushfire this area had a commercial Radiata Pine plantation which went 'off like a rocket' in the fires. 

It was in 2004 that the ACT Government held a nationwide competition for an arboretum plan which was to be part of the recovery from that bushfire. The winning design by landscape architects Taylor Cullity Lethlean and architects Tonkin Zulaikha Greet proposed 100 forests and 100 gardens focussing on establishing an arboretum to display forests of threatened and/or iconic species from around the world, including Australia. This design also incorporated the cork oak and Himalayan cedar forests which were planted early last century, much of which survived the fires. Experimental plantings, research and education were all to be an integral aspect of this project.

Since 2006 the (mostly completed) arboretum has been planted with just a few forests still to be planted. Already this area is evolving into a beautiful patchwork of young forests, many with seasonal interest, displaying new spring growth, flowering, fruiting, autumn colour, shedding bark, attracting birds and insects, so there is always something new and interesting to see. 

The Arboretum was officially opened to the public in February 2013. It has had many visiting heads of government and ambassadors plant ceremonial trees (trees significant to their own country). It is located at the western end of Lake Burley Griffin (the Government House end) with beautiful undulating land with fantastic views overlooking the lake towards the city.

Sitting atop a hill is the Village Building which is the usual first stop for visitors. Here can be found the information hub, cafe, restaurant and gift shop. It is also the meeting point for guided walks led by volunteer walk guides. Also located in this area is the Bonsai Pavilion, housing the superb National Bonsai and Penjing Collection of Australia. Native and exotic exhibits are rotated so this display is ever changing throughout the seasons.

The Canberra Discovery Garden was established by ACTEW Water to help Canberra gardeners better understand climate, soils and geology and assist them in making good, sustainable water-wise choices in plant selection and garden design.

The garden is a series of linked garden 'rooms' including a covered outdoor learning area for workshops, talks and school groups etc and an interpretive trail which allows visitors to engage in self directed learning and discovery. The garden design and plant selections aim to inspire visitors to develop healthy, water-wise gardens which are sustainable through solid gardening practices.

image Gerrie Mackey

In the following link Gerrie Mackey writes about an area in the Arboretum - the Southern Tablelands Ecosystem Park.

Please click here for Gerrie's article Canberra's 'STEP' towards a regional botanic garden - GardenDrum

The National Arboretum is a must see if you visit the ACT. To see it now in it's infancy and then to return years later, noting the progress and growth of the trees would be just fantastic.

Thursday, 3 December 2015

Gardener's Diary - December 2015

Living on the Coffs Coast does present some challenges for gardeners. The most important thing is to choose the right plants to start off with and not try and grow things that really are not suitable for the subtropical garden. Once our gardens have established themselves we can give some (what would normally be) 'unsuitable' plants a try.  

Many natives do brilliantly here on the coast for instance - Casuarina, Leptospermum, Hakea, Westringea, Banksia integrifolia and Banksia serrata as do a number of the Grevillea family - Robin Gordon, Honey Gem and Moonlight. If you are near the beach the Pandanus is an absolute must. 
There are quite a few exotics that also do quite well and really complement these natives for example - Agave, Aloes, Bromeliads, Carex (a grass type plant), Coprosma, Cordylines, Gazania, Golden Candles, Hibiscus, Ixoras, Justica carnia, Poinsettias, Metrosideros, Oleander, Phormium, Statice, Strelitzea, and of course heaps of succulents.

Most gardens create their own micro climates - either with large canopy trees or thick hedges. Over time (as trees and shrubs grow), micro climates often change so there may be some losses or some plantings that become too successful so some adjustments and changes have to happen.

For the Coffs Coast, fertilizing with slow release pellets particular to your plantings and good mulching are a must as heavy summer rains leach nutrients from the soil. 

Tuesday, 1 December 2015


Flower of the Month - December 2015

These South African members of the lily family have adapted well to hot Australian summers when their display of spectacular blue and white flowers is really at its peak. In some parts of Australia though, Agapanthus have adapted too well and are regarded as weeds—especially in cooler regions. They spread by seed and have naturalised in some seaside areas, particularly along the Mornington Peninsula of Victoria.

Agapanthus species and cultivars have long, strap-like leaves that form dense clumps of evergreen or deciduous foliage. Tall stems tower over the foliage bearing heads of bell-shaped or tubular flowers, in shades of blue to purple or white.

Although tolerant of drought and poor soil, both flower and foliage production improves with moisture and feeding. They perform best in a position in full sun or part-shade in any well-drained soil. Routine removal of spent flowers will encourage further flowering. If growing in pots. Do not use overly large containers as they do better when the roots are somewhat congested. They can be easily propagated by division in winter or from seed.

There are some rather lovely dwarf forms which are superb in rockeries or containers or small spaces—eg Agapanthus Baby Pete as seen left.

Mealy Bug affected Agapanthus
For a comprehensive article on a serious problem with Agapanthus please see here. This has been written by Catherine Stewart for GardenDrum. It would seem that we may well be going to see the results of mealy bug infestations here too as I have noticed some of my aggies with crimped leaves!

17 January 2018 - Further to this post:

There is now a non invasive low seeding dwarf agapanthus just perfect for a low hedge or potted garden feature. These Agapanthus have been promoted by Plants Management Australia (PMA) and go by the names Baby Pete, Baby Periwinkle and Golden Drop. 

PMA is an Australian owned horticultural licensing and marketing company which guides plant breeders and developers throughout the whole process - from initial intellectual property issues right through the trialling, growing, advertising and distribution of new varieties. Their website is a great place to find what is the very latest in new varieties of plants.