Thursday, 25 July 2019


Such interesting birds. This is a post from January 2018 but thought it could do with an 'airing' as we have some busy Satin Bowerbirds in our garden at the moment and thought there may be other gardeners experiencing the same.

David Attenborough in this clip discusses Animal behaviour of the Australian Bowerbird:

The research for this post was prompted by a question at a recent Garden Club outing - 'which direction do bower birds construct their nests'? Of the people there, no unequivocal answer was forthcoming. So here goes folks!


Bowerbirds live mainly along a 250 kilometre wide fringe along the eastern coastline from Victoria through New South Wales and up into southern Queensland. There is also another 500 kilometre strip in northern Queensland. The break between these areas is mainly due to urbanisation and lack of suitable forest conditions. 

New South Wales Bowerbird types

There are four Bowerbirds found in New South Wales - Regent Bowerbirds, Satin Bowerbirds, Spotted Bowerbirds and Green Catbirds.

Regent Bowerbirds

image Australian Geographic
Their head, back and flight feathers of the male are coloured in a rich golden-yellow with basically the remainder being black with a purple sheen. Its forehead is sometimes tinted crimson and has bright yellow eyes. These male bowerbirds moult into their plumage when 4 years old. Until then he is very like a female Regent Bowerbird. The female is coloured in shades of dull brown, olive-brown or yellow brown on the upper parts of her body and pale buff with brown mottling underneath.

Satin Bowerbird

Female Satin Bowerbird
Both male and female Satin Bowerbirds have bright lilac-blue eyes, but their similarities end there! The mature male is about 30 centimetres long, with his plumage black with a glossy purple-blue sheen. He comes into his adult plumage during his seventh year, until then his plumage resembles that of the female. She is slightly smaller and is coloured green, grey-green, dusky brown and dark brown. Her underbody is buff to cream, marked with dark olive-grey to dusky grey crescents.

Spotted Bowerbird

image Martin Willis

Both the male and female Spotted Bowerbirds have a bottled brown appearance with a bar of lilac on the back of their necks. The mottled plumage ranges from fawn-brown with dark spots on the neck to a dusky-brown or black with buff spots on the back and wings.

Green Catbirds

image Australian Museum

The Green Catbird, another member of the Bowerbird family, gets its name from its cat-like wailing call. Males and females are various shades of green, flecked with black on the head and face, white on the nape, neck and wing tips - their eyes are red.

Nest Building

With the exception of Green Catbirds (who do not construct bowers) Bowerbirds build elaborate 'avenue bowers' comprised of two walls of twigs leading to a display court where he 'struts his stuff' performing displays for females. He decorates this display court with trinkets to attract females. The actual bower is 'painted' with a mixture of saliva and crushed leaves, grasses etc. A general rule of thumb is that he paints in a colour similar to his own plumage - for the Regent Bowerbird, yellow; Satin Bowerbird, charcoal; Spotted Bowerbird, red/brown. Trinkets for the display court vary as well - the Regent Bowerbird decorates with red black/yellow brown; Satin Bowerbird with blue; Spotted Bowerbird with white/pale green and the Green catbirds may decorate a cleared area with some leaf material.

To show this display court off to best advantage, the bower is usually constructed with a north-south orientationSo I guess that answers the question asked at the outing! However, in closed-canopy forests, bowers are built near canopy gaps so that light reaching the forest floor illuminates the male and his wonderful bower. 

Australian Museum have a wonderful article on the Satin Bowerbird (which is usually the most common Bowerbird on the Coffs Coast).

There are also some great illustrations on what-when-how about how Satin Bowerbirds construct their bowers.

Outing Stop Press!

Folks, the first stop on our outing today is 14 Saint Andrews Drive, Woolgoolga

We meet here for a byo morning tea at 10:00am.

Second Stop is 24 Moore Street, Woolgoolga
Third Stop is 42 Pullen St Woolgoolga

Lunch is at the RSL (the club with the helicopter).

Please ring Margaret Franks if you would like to come along and have not put your name down yet 0421 366 013.  

Monday, 22 July 2019

Prize Details and Conditions of Entry

The Coffs Harbour Garden Club's

30th Annual

Spring Garden Competition


Closing Date
Friday 6 September 2019 at 5:00pm (no late entries accepted). 
Entry forms will be available from 27 July at Botanic Gardens, Total Gardens, local libraries, Woolgoolga Mitre 10, Woolgoolga Seniors Centre, MI Organics,  and Coffs Harbour Landscape Centre. 

Judging Dates: 

Mon 9 - 
Thu 12 Sep     School Seed Growing Competition - Perfect Pollinators

Sun 15 Sep     Northern Beaches from Diggers Beach to Corindi
Mon 16 Sep   Toormina, Sawtell, Boambee & Bonville
                    And Schools

Tues 17 Sep   Coffs City area and Orara Valley

Presentation of prizes:

Will be held at the Cavanbah Centre, Harbour Drive, Coffs Harbour on
Friday 20 September 2019 commencing at 7:00pm.

All entrants and families are welcome and a light supper will be provided by members of CHGC at the conclusion of award presentations.

Conditions of Entry:

  • For Residential Entrants the competition organisers expect that the general public will be able to view your garden if you win a prize in the categories 1-6, 10 and Waterwise Gardens. Also that all the provided prize banners will be prominently displayed.
  • Hours of viewing will be from 10am to 4pm on Sun 22nd September 2019.
  • The Judge's book remains the property of the CHGC. 
  • No correspondence will be entered into as the Judge's decision is final.
  • All prizes are awarded at the Judge’s discretion.
NB: Prize banners (and their supporting stakes) remain the 
property of the Coffs Harbour Garden Club. 

 Residential competitors may enter ONE of the categories numbered 1-4
and up to TWO categories numbered 5-10, 
plus either or in the Waterwise Categories

NB: Judging will include the front, back and sides of all gardens entered in
categories 1-6, 10 and Waterwise A & B

Prizes: (in each category): 1st $100 Voucher, 2nd $50 Voucher

The 2019 Champion Garden will be judged from all entries in Residential categories 1-6.
Prize: Return airfares to Brisbane and two nights' accommodation including breakfast for two people. The winner's name will be engraved on the Coffs Harbour City Council Perpetual Trophy, hold the blue glass trophy for 12 months, receive an annual trophy and appear on the Club's website Honour Board. 

The Reserve Champion is runner-up to the Champion.
Prize: Two nights' accommodation in an Ocean View Spa Studio Apartment for two people at The Observatory Holiday Apartments, Coffs Harbour. Plus a $100 dinner voucher at Pacific Bay Resort provided by Coffs Harbour Garden Club. The Reserve Champion winner will hold the Flower Picture Trophy for 12 months, receive an annual trophy and appear on the Club's website Honour Board.
(This voucher is valid until 30 September 2020 however it is not available for use between 24 December 2019 to 13 January 2020 and 9 April 2020 to 12 April 2020 - Christmas and Easter.)

The Waterwise Gardens will be judged against Coffs Harbour City Council's "Waterwise Garden Guide" (see here for that guide) covering overall garden design, use of mulch and irrigation, plant selection, general quality and health of plants.
Prizes: for both category A & B
For each category - an Opal Cove Resort accommodation package for one night for 2 people (including breakfast) and dinner to the value of $100 at Horizons Restaurant. Winners' names will be engraved on the Trophies held by Coffs Harbour City Council, receive an annual trophy and appear on the Garden Club's website Honour Board.

Category 10 Garden of home built and occupied since Sept 2014 
(Supported by The Bayrange Group - Total Gardens)
Prize: 1st $150 voucher         2nd $100 voucher 

The Judge may also give an encouragement award to any Residential entry. 
Prize: hold Iris picture for 12 months, receive an annual trophy and appear on the Garden Club's website Honour Board.

All entrants in the Residential Section will go in a draw to win a family pass to Dolphin Marine Conservation Park.

1ST TIME RESIDENTIAL ENTRANTS will go into a separate draw to win a voucher from Park Avenue Florist  - please make sure you have checked this box if you have never entered the Spring Garden Competition before.

  School competitors may enter up to three categories

Whole School Garden
Best Native garden on school property
Best vegetable garden on school property

1st in each category receive an annual trophy
1st & 2nd placegetters in each category receive a voucher, Certificate of Merit and appear on the Garden Club's website Honour Board.

                                        Competitors may enter one category plus Waterwise C

Prizes: 1st and 2nd Certificate of Merit and appear on the Garden Club's website Honour Board.  

The Waterwise Gardens will be judged against Coffs Harbour City Council's "Waterwise Garden Guide"  (please see here for that guide) covering overall garden design, use of mulch and irrigation, plant selection, general quality and health of plants.

Prize:   $100 Food & Beverage Package supported by Coffs Harbour City Council
              AND $100 Voucher supported by MI Organics Toormina 

All Entrants will receive a participation certificate.

    CHGC gratefully acknowledges the generous support of our sponsors, these supporters can be found on the sponsors page above, please support them whenever possible.

Entries Secretary:                                                                Competition Administrator
Maria Bell 6656 2429                                                            Pat Roser 6690 2511
0418 695 113


updated 20 June 2019

Wednesday, 10 July 2019


Flower of the month - July 2019

KINGDOM:  Plantae

FAMILY:  Tropaeolaceae

GENUS:  Nasturtium

The word, nasturtium comes from Old English (originally denoting any cruciferous plant of the genus Nasturtium, including watercress): fgrom Latin, apparently from naris 'nose' + torquere 'to twist'.

Nasturtium are happy plants that love nothing more than trailing over a quiet corner of the garden and spreading their joy. Just when you think you have found the prettiest one, there is another just a tiny bit different.

Who remembers the story called, The Nastursiums Who Grew Too Big for Their Boots in the Grade 2 reader??? 

Bring along your favourite for the competition table on Saturday.

Web Administrator: The following post first appeared on our website as the Flower of the Month in February 2016. This also has the link to a blog titled DNA REBOOT where the recipe for the pickled seedpods can be found if you want to give it a go. Also on that link are some rather nice images of Nasturtiums. 

Let No-one Cast Aspersions at Beautiful Nasturtiums!

Botanical name: Tropaeolum majus

Although they can be vigorous to a fault, swathes of colourful nasturtiums give a garden an almost magical easy-care appeal. 

Nasturtium have over 80 species of annuals and perennials. They are easy-to-grow, whose leaves and flowers are both edible.These plants, with their bright greenery and vibrant flowers are good for either containers or ground covers. Their pretty fragrance also makes them a good choice for cut flowers....... bet you didn't think of that? 

With their large seeds and rapid growth habit these flowers are perfect to grow with children. They were the very first seeds my children planted - unfortunately they (the children) were so very, very diligent in their watering, the plot turned to mud. Not to be beaten by that minor setback, the kids used this area for their mud pie construction and 'who can get the most mud on them' play area. When their interest waned and they moved on to other exciting play activities, the area was left alone. Low and behold, the resilient Nasturtium seeds germinated, perhaps not as many as were planted, BUT! Just goes to show how nature will always endeavour to triumph over adversity - even my kids. 

Nasturtium come in the 'warm' colours of red, orange and yellow with some pretty salmon-pink and also creamy yellow flowers with orange centres. The foliage is a lovely bright green with some variegated varieties too. Nasturtiums bloom (and are at their best) during summer and autumn.

Tropaeolum tricolour

Their appearance has variable foliage. They may be many lobed (example left), trifoliate or shield shaped and some are even tinted a blue-green. 


Plant directly either in full sun or partial shade (they bloom better in full sun) in moist, well-drained soil. The plants should appear in 7 to 10 days. Water regularly throughout the growing season (but not as much as my kids). If you are growing them in containers, they may need to be trimmed back occasionally over the growing season to keep them looking good.

Nasturtiums are very easy to care for with the added bonus that they inhibit weed growth. If you don't like them in a particular position, it's an easy task to just pull them out. Drifts of nasturtiums planted in your garden are splendid for that special quiet morning walk where little droplets of dew sit suspended atop the leaves, just beautiful!

For those of you who would really like to make full use of nasturtiums, please visit this link to find out how to make pickled nasturtiums seeds - now there's something really different!

Friday, 5 July 2019

A Little About the Comp and Some Hints

Each September, the Coffs Garden Club conduct a garden competition for home owners, renters, commercial/industrial properties and schools. There are many different categories in this competition and there is bound to be one suitable for most folk. The competition is usually launched the last Saturday in July with closing date for entries the first Friday in September. 

The gardens are judged about 10 days later (to allow for administrative work). This judging is conducted over three days with various areas done on each day. There will be a lot of extra information about this competition in the coming weeks but for now this post will tell you more about the competition with some hints on how to help you prepare and display your garden in the Spring Garden Competition.

Before anything else read up as much information as you can from our website including full details of categories, judging days, open garden day and of course, the date of the Presentation Night where you can receive your awards and prizes! There will also be key information on the paper entry form.

It is important to remember that the judge will be looking only at what they see in your garden at the time of their visit, not what might be there next month or even next week and certainly not what looked good last week. It is also very important to know that the judge has only limited time to look at each garden, so it helps if you make a good first impression and have that 'WOW' factor from the outset.

So what can you do to help give your garden the best chance of success in this year's competition?

1.     Overall garden appeal is really important. People should want to be in your garden, and that includes the judge.

  • Resist the urge to put in an 'instant' or just planted garden.
  • Ensure that any paving and pathways are clean and safe with no overhanging branches or weeds that could be hazardous.
  • Beds should be well mulched with material that is best NOT placed the day before Judging.
  • Shrubs and hedges should be neatly clipped. Flowers should be dead-headed where appropriate, and any dead leaves removed from plants and shrubs.
  • If something has failed in your garden, think of ways of filling the gap, ie turn what could be a negative into a positive.
  • Try to have things like garbage bins and old, unkempt garden furniture away and out of sight.  Preferably don't have washing on the line. Put away hoses and gardening equipment. And secure your pets, particularly dogs. 
  • Think about featuring a bench or table with chairs where your garden can be enjoyed.

2.     The judge will also look at the condition of your garden.

  • Plants should look healthy. There should be no disease or insect infestation to be seen, and your garden should not have any signs of nutrient imbalance, eg yellowing of leaves etc.
  • Make sure you remove any dead plants, fallen branches, palm fronds or other debris.

3.     The lawn (if you have one) should be healthy, weed free and nicely edged, if you have hard landscaping instead of lawn ensure it is clean and looking its best. In fact, any other key features you have in your garden should be looking their best as well.

4.     The veggie garden (if you have one) needs to be seen as a working garden, ie, it is quite acceptable to have resting beds, and succession plantings are always looked upon favourably.

5.     Garden design is another important aspect of judging and includes things such as layout, use of colour, line, form and texture, and of course, plant selection. Try to have a clear theme for your garden and stick to it. Where possible, have garden 'rooms' that help make best use of your available space. Or simply have 'flow' to your garden - something that encourages the visitor to move on further in your garden.

6.     Finally, please remember that judges are trained to objectively assess different kinds of gardens, so don't be afraid to enter. Over the years the competition has seen a myriad of styles in gardens and garden spaces. For instance, there have been gardens comprising predominately pots, all annual plantings with popping colour, all Australian natives, cactus, and gardens that have incorporated vegetable growing among flowers etc etc. 

7.    It is a condition of entry that if your garden is a first prize winning garden in categories 1-6, 10 and Waterwise A&B it is open to the public for viewing 10am - 4pm on Sun 22 September, with prize banner prominently displayed.

Please do not be intimidated with all this information. Gardeners who love to garden usually have gardens that fulfill all of the above without even trying! If you require further information about the competition please do not hesitate to contact either Pat 6690 2511 or Maria 6656 2429, they will be only too happy to assist.

All on-line forms will be available from 27 July 2019 at this site.

Disclaimer: These hints have been prepared only to provide general information to competition entrants to help them prepare their gardens for competition and they answer many of the questions that entrants pose to the club. The Coffs Harbour Garden Club makes no guarantee that following any, or all of the above hints will result in success for any particular entrant in the competition. Each entrant remains responsible for preparing and displaying their garden as they see fit.

Wednesday, 3 July 2019

Key Dates for 2019 Competition

Key dates for the 2019 Spring Garden Competition are:

Competition launch Sat 27 July at Botanic Garden, Coffs Harbour at 1:00pm

Entries open - 5:00pm Sat 27 July

Entries close - 5:00pm Fri 6 September

Judging - 'Perfect Pollinators' School seed growing competition Mon 9 - Thur 12 September. Schools will be advised which day their school will be judged closer to the time.

Judging - Sun 15 September Northern Beaches from Diggers Beach to Corindi

Judging - Mon 16 September Toormina, Sawtell, Boambee & Bonville areas 

Judging - Mon 16 September School whole garden, native garden and vegetable gardens

Judging - Tue 17 September Coffs City area and Orara Valley

Presentation of Prizes - Cavanbah Centre, Harbour Drive, Coffs Harbour Fri 20 September, commencing at 7:00pm.

Monday, 1 July 2019


Part of the Bromeliad family, Tillandsias have many forms in cultivation and most produce brightly coloured appealing blooms on delicate flower spikes directly from the centre of each plant.

These easy to grow, true 'air plants' are often used in display pieces on driftwood and tree branches. Perhaps the better known Tillandsias is 'Old Man's Beard' Tillandsia usneoides with its attractive silver grey fine foliage cascading over low branches or wooden fences. This form is often pinched by small birds to make their nests extra comfy and will often drop it along the way, thus spreading the species to neighbouring trees and shrubs.

Grouping many different species of Tillandsias together with smaller orchids is one definite way of making an outstanding feature for any sized garden. In nature, Tillandsias capture heavy dew on their fine foliage so do not require heavy watering to survive.

For excellent advice on growing Tillandsias visit this Better Homes & Gardens feature article.