Saturday, 28 October 2017

It's Time to Make a Commitment

Membership of CHGC involves not just paying the annual fee. The following are just a few reasons why we might belong to our garden club.

  • New to the Coffs Harbour area and/or are unfamiliar with Sub-tropical gardening.
  • Looking to gain knowledge of best garden practice from perhaps more experienced gardeners.
  • Personal circumstances now allow more time to fulfil a garden passion.
  • Want to have some fun and make new friends.
  • Would like to foster a new interest and knowledge through gardens and gardening.
  • Are unfamiliar with Coffs and would love the opportunity to visit some lovely gardens, other district attractions and locations.
  • Looking for something which will enhance self-worth by sharing your attributes, knowledge or life skills with others. 
  • 'Give back' to the community by making a committed effort in a club that is not a service club but one which nonetheless is devoted to making a difference to the wider local area. 
  • Seeking social interaction and engagement with other people with a common interest.
  • To strive to keep an active lifestyle and nimble mind by experiencing physical and mental stimulation.

It doesn't really matter why we've joined CHGC, it does matter however that we are all proactive as club members in the development, growth and participation in all club activities. We are a diverse and very talented group of people who are drawn together for one main objective and that is (as our motto says), 'Friendship through gardens'.

Our AGM is coming up next month so please consider stepping forward to take on any of the many functions, activities or roles within CHGC. By having 'new faces' we are ensuring that there is vibrancy, enthusiasm and a shared load of responsibility throughout our membership, and please do not be shy! If there is anything you'd like to know about a particular role do not hesitate to contact either Sue or Jane - if they don't know they will put you in touch with someone who will, their contact details can be found in CHGC Newsletter.

Often members become complacent and leave the running of the club to the same few people year after year because they are doing such a brilliant job. 'If it ain't broke, don't fix it' type of mentality that perhaps needs to be redressed. It's not that these people think they are the only ones who can get the job done, it's been more a case of no-one else offering to help! 

For the last twelve months we've basically had a shared responsibility for the role of President which seems to have worked. We've also for a few years now had the role of Treasurer a shared one with Anne-Maree and Tom doing a stellar job of keeping the accounts and maintaining the so important members list. So it's evident that even in major Executive roles the load can be divided. It follows then, that to divvy up some of the duties from other roles within the club should be a breeze.

To take on a meeting day role (for instance) it's NOT necessary to be in attendance at every meeting, however it is your responsibility to find someone else who can deliver on the day. This is where it can be a fantastic idea to have a buddy (or buddies) to share that responsibility - for instance the setting up of the meeting room, competition table judging and presentations at meetings etc etc. It is a given of course, that communication with other team players is vital so there is no scrambling from the Executive trying to find someone else to pick up the slack at short notice.

Some of the responsibilities/roles within CHGC are:

  • meeting room set up/break down
  • set-up/break-down of the competition table
  • competition table steward
  • competition table Judges
  • afternoon tea setting up
  • afternoon tea team member
  • laundering the table cloths and tea towels
  • washing up
  • airport garden maintenance team member
  • BBQ co-ordinator
  • BBQ helper
  • garden competition sub committee member
  • gardener's diary - meeting presentations
  • meeting concierge - raffle, attendance book
  • new member/guest welcomer
  • newsletter editor
  • programme committee team member
  • publicity officer
  • Public Officer
  • Show Society representatives
  • Coffs Show steward
  • trading table set up/break down
  • trading table contributor
  • web administrator

Please don't be daunted by this exhaustive missive..... There is an urgent need for members to take stock and just think how they could possibly contribute to the successful running of the CHGC so at the AGM there are not those dreaded 'pregnant pauses'. Discuss things with your friends or other members on how you could perhaps become a committed team player.

Sunday, 22 October 2017

Warm Garden Blue Flowers

Series 28 Episode 33 saw ABC Gardening Australia's Jerry Coleby-Williams take a walk through Kate Wall's Brisbane garden where she successfully grows sun loving plants in partial/shady conditions. Quite a clever gardener and she even had Jerry on the end of a shovel.... 

Because Kate has a wonderful understanding of climatic conditions very similar to Coffs Harbour her experience is well worth tapping into for some excellent ideas for our own gardens. Ithis GardenDrum article she discusses the use of blue flowers, the importance of shade, position etc AND gives quite a long list of blue flowering plants.

Kate suggests that by using blue shaded plants it has a cooling effect (along with green of course) and also the importance of which colour blue to use (and) where - shade or full sun.

October/November in Your Garden

There is much to do in our gardens in preparation for Christmas and also to set things up for the hot summer months ahead.

One of the initial tasks would be to fertilise your gardens, water well and top with a good layer of mulch, if you haven't already done so.

Weigela florida

As those wonderful spring flowering shrubs and climbers have given their best it is now time to give them a haircut. Shrubs like Weigela should have about one-fifth of the canes which have flowered cut out completely at ground level - this is to encourage new growth, with the rest of the canes shorted back by about the usual one-third, cutting back to a newly developing shoot. Deutzia is another wonderful shrub that needs to be trimmed and thinned immediately after flowering so next year the show is spectacular again. Prune the thin twigs to promote a sturdy framework of main branches. Propagate the hybrids and cultivars from half-hardened cuttings.

Callistemon, can be given a good overall trim and will reward with a stunning show in a few months. There are so many that grow well on the Coffs Coast it might be a good opportunity to plant some more too.

'Red Dragon' will appreciate a haircut now as the beautiful coloured spring leaves start to fade. Cutting back will promote fresh, vibrant grow and bright foliage.

You'll notice that your Hydrangea are starting to bloom. As the meaning of their name is 'water vessel' they do need to consume a lot of water. It's best to have them sheltered from the hot afternoon sun in summer when you are choosing a spot for them. Morning sun seems to be the ticket for them. We have them growing in huge pots on the southern side of our home and yes, they do get a bit limp on really hot days however, on the whole they go quite well.

If the weather is still dry, keep up the water to your developing vegetable crops. Ensure that your tomatoes are staked at planting so there is no damage to roots later if you thump in a huge stake for support! Asparagus crops will be at their best at this time and will need to be 'cropped' regularly, it's amazing how quickly the shoots grow. When the picking season is concluded, keep the plants tidy by corralling them using stakes and string until the foliage dies off when the plants need be cut off, before heavy fertilising.

Keep a sharp eye out for the bronze orange beetle that attacks citrus trees and can really cause a lot of damage to the new shoots and the baby fruit. Spray with Eco-oil or Yates Nature's Way citrus and Ornamental Spray (which is organically certified). I generally knock them with a stick into a container of water with some liquid detergent added. The soap changes the surface tension of the water and they can't float on top. Be mindful to wear a long-sleeved shirt and eye protection as they squirt a nasty solution when disturbed.

Saturday, 14 October 2017

Flanders Poppy

Flower of the Month - October 2017

This photo was taken by CHGC Member Geoff at Pozieres, France, the site of one of the greatest battles ever fought by Australian soldiers. Over seven weeks in mid-1916, at the Battle of the Somme, and very near to where these poppies were growing, the Australian Imperial Force suffered 23,000 casualties, 6,700 of whom died.
image Sue Young
KINGDOM: Plantae

ORDER: Ranunculales

FAMILY:  Papaveraceae

GENUS:  Papaver

A favourite heirloom flower and one of the most widely recognised flowers for its significance in honouring fallen soldiers on Remembrance Day. It's always one of the first spring flowers to bloom on the battlefields of France, and it's commonly said to symbolise the blood of lost soldiers.

image Sue Young

A few years ago seeds were distributed far and wide by Maria Bell. If you are lucky, maybe your poppies are coming up year after year. Mine are!  Yippee

Images from Sue Young are current year's flowers.    

image Sue Young

Some further reading on why this flower was chosen for distribution among members of CHGC.

Also another link when Papaver rhoeas was flower of the month. Images from this post were supplied by then members Bob & Gaye.

Jennifer Stackhouse has written an article on Annual poppies and friends. Visit GardenDrum for this article.

Thursday, 12 October 2017

Lady's Mantle

Lady's Mantle flower

Lady's Mantle Alchemilla mollis, is a perennial herb native to Europe, north-west Asia, Greenland and north-eastern North America; it is also found in the Himalayas. It can be found growing in damp grassland, open woodland and on rock ledges.

The Arabic word Alkemelych (alchemy) was thought to be one origin of its Latin name (because of its medicinal uses). An alternative explanation is related to the leaves of the herb, which came to the attention of those seeking the mystical properties of plants; their ability to hold teardrop-shaped droplets of dew in their folds gave the plants its Latin name of Alchemilla, meaning magical one. it's common name refers to the resemblance of the leaves to a lady's cloak (mantle) - a medieval observation. One folktale tells that placing a leaf of the herb under your pillow will induce a 'sweet slumber'. Traditionally, the plant has been used for obesity, and is now thought to aid in weight loss.

Some uses for Lady's Mantle

  • The young leaves can be chopped up and added to salads or vegetables.
  • Infused dried leaves are used as an astringent and facial steam for acne. Make a cold infusion to use for a compress on puffy eyes.
  • Due to its tannic properties, it will produce a bright green dye for wool.
  • Medicinally the plant is held in high esteem. It is known for its use in treating menstrual problems and for strengthening and healing after childbirth. Its pain relief qualities come from the action of the salicylic acid contained within the plant. Use dried leaves to prepare a mouthwash, or a poultice for healing wounds.
  • To be avoided during pregnancy or when breast-feeding.

Cultural Notes

  • Fully hardy herb that grows almost anywhere except in waterlogged soil; does well in sun or partial shade.
  • Can be grown from seed or division. Cut back hard after flowering to encourage new growth.
  • Excellent edging and ground cover plant.
  • Self-seeds freely and can become invasive.

Swedish Landscapes - Spring

CHGC Member Jovanna, has a daughter living in Sweden and she has taken a series of photographs throughout the year and has offered to share these with us here in Coffs Harbour. This presentation is titled 'Spring'

Tuesday, 10 October 2017

Glycyphana stolata - A Good Guy?

Commonly known as the Brown Flower Beetle, Glycyphana stolata is a good guy in that he assist with pollination. I was deadheading my roses this morning and came across this critter on a Seduction rose, so snipped off the flower, shoved it into a plastic bag so identification could be done later. Gave this investigative duty to hubby who (like everything else he does) dug diligently away on-line until he came up trumps!

Glycyphana stolata are from the Order of Coleoptera, Family of Scarabaeidae and are indigenous to southern Queensland and northern New South Wales. They usually go for light coloured or scented flowers both native and exotic. The adults feed on flowers (but usually only the nectar) and larva feed on dead material - although it looks as though there is some damage to the petals of this rose, ringed by brown?). They are not considered a pest especially in small numbers but are important native critters for pollination.

They spead by flying, assisted by the wind from plant to plant and are most active in spring and early summer. When disturbed, they tend to play dead (which I thought this little bloke was until I discerned a little twitch of one leg!).


Something in our gardens that are now at their showiest best are Clivias. Bernard Chapman is a consulting horticulturist and manages many large heritage gardens on Sydney's North Shore. He has written an article about them in the latest GardenDrum blog post.

Unlike Bernard, I don't really have a favourite child (although it has to be said that perhaps there are some that I get on better with, but undoubtedly love them all equally!). 

image CHGC member Simon's

However, Clivias are always a delight to see in any garden, the above image was taken at Toowoomba and as I'm not a very good photographer it actually looked much better than this. It seemed to just glow..... so beautiful. 

Clivias are such tolerant plants - they will divide very easily (if you can prise them from their pots - usually the pots have to be smashed if they have a narrower opening) and are also easy to grow from seed - given enough time. They will take a few years to actually flower this way but fun, nonetheless.

To read more about Clivias just visit this GardenDrum article. You will see how to grow them successfully, propagate them and common pests and diseases. There are some good images too - better than mine!

Thursday, 5 October 2017

Dindymus versicolor - Harlequin Bug

image Jungle Dragon

Recently CHGC member Sue came to an outing armed with images of this rather pretty critter and wanted to know what it was. It's a bad guy, commonly known as Harlequin Bug, Dindymus versicolor can really wreck havoc on succulent new growth - in Sue's case, her broadbeans. 

image Nature Share
Sometimes these insects are known as Pull me/Push you Bugs.

Their range is throughout Eastern Australia. The adult is a black and red bug, about 1/2cm long. This bug sucks sap from young plants and their excrement (frass) disfigures fruit. They are also found on fences, wood piles and tree trunks and often overwinter in such places.

Damage from these critters can cause wilt and often leads to the death of the plant, and fruit is also damaged. 

Sue found that a simple spray of pyrethrum did the trick for her 'they dropped like flies' she said. 

If you would like further reading about this critter it can be found on this blog Gippsland Gardener, an excellent article and includes Gardening Australia's Peter Cundell's tip on their control.

Sunday, 1 October 2017

How to Grow Turmeric

image GardenDrum

Turmeric is native to the monsoon forests of south east Asia. It is a perennial herb which grows to about 1 metre tall with underground rhizomes. It produces tall, quite beautiful, white flower spikes - CHGC members have on occasion brought some to meetings for the competition table. 

Marianne Cannon from GardenDrum writes on how to grow Turmeric and discusses its uses and benefits. See this link on how to grow turmeric.

As Turmeric requires high rainfall it does quite well on the Coffs Coast and the flower makes an awesome cut flower which lasts well.