Sunday, 30 October 2016

Jane's October Presentation - Hydrangea

Onion Weed

Nothoscordum inodorum

Just saying the words 'onion weed' (nothoscordum inodorum) sends a shiver down most people's backs.

This is an exceedingly difficult weed to remove - if you try to pull it up the seemingly hundreds of bulblets are disturbed, creating a zillion new plants. 

This weed flowers quite freely and these, in turn create seeds which produce new plants. It is a very resilient plant for what purpose, I really do not know. Perhaps it could be put to a constructive use as a deterrent insect spray (as with garlic spray) give it a good blending up and allowed to steep and then sprayed on insect prone plants might turn a gardener's enemy into something quite useful.

Might be worth some research!

The very thing that onion weed dislikes is potassium, so it stands to reason that a terrific way to rid your garden would be to give it a good dose of potassium. With what you ask? Apple cider vinegar unprocessed because you need the 'mother' in it. The mother is also called Mycoderma Aceti and is composed of a form of cellulose and acetic acid bacteria that develops on fermenting alcoholic liquids. It turns the alcohol into acetic acid. The mother is added to wine and cider to produce vinegar.

Spray the onion weed with the apple cider vinegar at two weekly intervals until it is gone - usually two doses is enough to 'do' the plants in! Be mindful of other plants you might have growing near the onion weed.

The flowers are quite innocent little things - who would think that they can create such a huge problem for we gardeners!

There has been an anonymous comment to this post that perhaps the images used were NOT onion weed Nothoscordum but Allium triquetrum. Some doubtful images have been removed and been replaced with what (I hope) are correct examples of Nothoscordum. 

At a casual glance these two plants are similar in appearance but there are some notable differences.

Allium triquetrum: 

Allium triquetrum

  • Is known as Angled Onion, Onion Weed, Three-cornered Leek, Triquetrous Garlic and Triquetrous Leek.
  • Onion like smell when crushed.
  • Leaves all basal and strap like.
  • Flowering stem sharply three angled, erect when in flower and collapsed by fruiting.
  • Less than 20 flowers per umbel and not globular.
  • Flower lobes or 'petals' have a distinct green mid vein.

In the image left, the flowering stem is sharply three angled and triangular in cross section, which is a major difference between the two.

  • This is a weed too and is an introduced plant found in the Western Mediterranean, Southern Europe and North Africa.
  • Naturalised in parts of Australia by 1909.
  • Taints milk and meat products when ingested.
  • In domestic gardens and urban areas its smell is considered offensive.
  • Often forms swards in moist areas and is exclusive of native vegetation.
I regret the misinformation from my original post and hope you will be able to tell the difference between these two weeds.

Friday, 28 October 2016


Acalypha 'Macrophylla'
Fijian Fire Plant, Beefsteak Plant or Salt Bush are just some common names for Acalypha. Sub-tropical Guru Gavin gave a presentation in June 2015 on the genus Wilkesiana (Tricolour).

Acalypha are used extensively in Coffs Coast gardens because of their colour popping foliage. These wonderfully bright and interestingly marked leaved plants come in many forms, if you would like to learn more please click here to read a terrific article from Arno King. 

Monday, 24 October 2016

Illawarra Grevillea Park

This garden has to be one of the best you will find in Australia that showcases Australian natives (particularly Grevilleas). This 1980s garden established by the Australian Plant Society houses their wild Grevillea collection. A must see if you are travelling to Bulli (see map here). Be mindful though that this garden IS NOT open 24/7 - it will next be open to the public in May 2017 for four weekends when their colourful display is at its peak, and then again in July and September. The rainforest section of the park and the many Grevilleas on show outside the gate are accessible all year round. If you require more information on open days please visit

100 year old chapel at the park
To see some absolutely lovely images of the Illawarra Grevillea Park and read a GardenDrum article written by John Elton please click here.

About John: (from GardenDrum)

My interest in native plants stems back some 40 years. Since retiring from my work as a history teacher and selective high school principal, we have moved to the NSW South Coast where I am establishing my new 2 acre garden and I have already planted about 1000 plants. About half of these are grevilleas but there are also many other native species. I am particularly interested in Western Australian natives most of which need to be grafted to survive the humidity of the east coast. My volunteer work at the Illawarra Grevillea Park over the past year fits nicely with my interests and continues to teach me a great deal about the art of growing Australian natives.

Thursday, 20 October 2016

Flea Beetles

Flea Beetles are 3-8mm in length and are often metallic in appearance with large rear legs. They feed on the leaves of hibiscus, dahlia and abutilon. Vegetables are not exempt from these critters - eggplant, potato, beans and brassicas are typical favourites.

They are so named because of their ability to jump like fleas when bothered. 

Their eggs are laid at the base of plant stems in early summer after a feeding period, and larvae feed at the roots. 

Adult beetles feed on foliage, producing shotholes in the leaves as seen in the image left.

Flea beetles vary from black to tan, solid or spotted depending on the species. Adtult flea beetles overwinter in undergrowth. They pose a threat early in the planting season as they are emerging, typically when the weather starts to warm up. Look for shot-holes in leaves, especially on young seedlings, where damage is most rapid and will cause the most harm. Flea beetles usually don't cause fatal damage to established plants because the leaves are too large. The real danger is that they can spread bacterial diseases such as wilt and blight, from plant to plant.  

Prevention - remove weeds. The larval stage feeds underground, so practise good crop rotation to break their life cycle.

Sunday, 16 October 2016

President's Message - October 2016

Over the past three years, I have been asked on many occasions about what our garden club is and does.

The first thing I usually tell people is that it’s all about friendships developed through a common love of gardens and gardening. Our membership consists of people with a wide range of gardening interests and experience, and that is something to be highly valued, particularly when it is matched with their willingness to share ideas and knowledge. And when this is coupled with the opportunity to be involved in a diverse range of gardening-related activities, you have a vibrant club that caters for the needs of pretty well everyone interested in gardening.

As you would expect, Coffs Harbour Garden Club does many of the things that are common to a lot of garden clubs. For example, our members have the benefit of an interesting guest speaker program at our monthly meetings, where a wide range of garden-related topics are covered by experts. We are also well educated each meeting by volunteer club members on specific gardening topics. In addition, there is a program of visits to gardens in the Coffs Harbour region where our members can learn much about gardening in a sub-tropical climate, and where they are able to get some great ideas to apply in their own gardens. We have a competition table each month for those who enjoy sharing what they grow and comparing their efforts with those of other club members. And we have a trading table that not only provides  members with opportunities to acquire plants from other members at extremely good prices, but also helps fund our club.

Beyond our meetings, there are opportunities to contribute significantly to the Coffs Harbour community through the annual Spring Garden Competition; by supporting to the Coffs Harbour Show; by helping out with the maintenance of the Regional Airport’s airside garden; and by participating in Clean Up      Australia Day.

Clearly not every member wants to be involved in everything the club does, but I believe our club is greatly strengthened by the diversity of what it offers to members. It is this that makes us different from the various plant societies and community gardens, which do a great job in their own right. But I truly believe our offer of a broader gardening experience has been a very useful and constructive thing within the Coffs Harbour community for well over half a century, and I say long may that continue!

Thursday, 6 October 2016

Outing to Bellingen

The following images have been provided by Marie D. who really enjoyed the outing today.

This garden is absolutely MASSIVE and no wonder that Marie got such a buzz from visiting.

Myles & Pat with the beautiful backdrop of 'The Rose Patch' at Bellingen

Thank you so much Marie for sharing these wonderful images from the October 2016 outing.

Also thanks to the Program Committee for organising such a wonderful outing.

Stunning Kangaroo Paws

image Angus Stewart
Angus Stewart recently visited Kangaroo Paw guru Keith Oliver in Perth. To read more about this meeting and also see stunning images like the one above, please see this link.

Saturday, 1 October 2016

Telopea speciosissima - Waratah

Flower of the Month - October 2016

image B. Alp

Waratah blooms are a symphony of curved florets, cupped by a skirt of petal-like bracts. If you think of waratahs, deep blood-red is the common image, but over the years the colour choice has expanded and today you can enjoy varieties in pure white, pink and soft golden-yellow. 
Waratahs are mainly spring flowering, evergreen shrubs, occasionally reaching small tree size in the wild. They belong to a very small genus of plants – just five species – and are endemic to New South Wales, Victoria and Tasmania.
image B. Alp
Telopea x corroboree (left) is a dense, medium/large shrub with broad grey-green foliage and large flat flower heads providing nectar for honey eating birds. It is a cross between Telopea speciosissima and Telopea mongaensis, giving this plant great hybrid vigour. A great feature shrub for general garden beds, rockeries or large container in full sun to part shade and a fantastic cut flower.

The NSW waratah (Telopea speciosissima) is the best-known species – it is the floral emblem of NSW and is grown commercially for its superb cut flowers.

Waratahs will flourish in free-draining soil in either full sun or partial shade. Like all members of the Proteaceae family they are highly sensitive to too much phosphorus so best to use a fertilizer low in phosphorus.