Wednesday, 25 March 2020

Secret Valley Plants Woolgoolga

Secret Valley Nursery at Woolgoolga (58 River Street) will be closing on Friday for plant sales at that location.

They will attend the Harbourside Markets on the weekend (while they still continue). Sylvia and Simon will also sell their plants online. To visit their website, click hereOn their website you can see their full contact details. 

So, so difficult for businesses at this time. 

Saturday, 21 March 2020

Garden Clubs of Australia Bulletin No. 3

If you are looking to see the latest news from Garden Clubs of Australia (GCA) - read on. These Bulletins are a way for the GCA to the flow of information open to all affiliated clubs throughout Australia.

As there are so many clubs not holding their regular activities, we need to keep the information flowing to our members and this is just one way.

Thursday, 19 March 2020

21 March Club Meeting - CANCELLED

The Coffs Harbour Garden Club March meeting scheduled for tomorrow 21 March has been cancelled.

'Friendship through gardens'

Details of March Outing

This month we're off to Boambee for our outing on Thursday 26 March.

Either meet at 10am for morning tea at the Secret Garden Cafe or go directly to the Frogarium (Frog Zoo) at 11am.

Both the cafe and the Frogarium are located at the old Garden Mania site, 17 Lindsays Road, Boambee (see map).  

Unfortunately, the first garden had to pull out of our visit so we are only visiting the one destination this month.

$10 Pensioner
$15 otherwise

Lunch is at the Secret Garden Cafe (at the same address). Margaret has booked for 20 people, so please let her know if you will be attending the lunch. 

RSVP by Tue 24 Mar - text 0421 366 013 or email

Saturday, 7 March 2020

Bunnings BBQ Fundraising effort

Thanks to the CHGC members who helped during the recent Bunnings BBQ. It was HOT under that gazebo but the various teams worked well. Thanks to the Hunt family who were there with tongs in hand for the entire day!

The noon change over of teams

Friday, 28 February 2020

Cooling Sea Breezes for Outing

The outing on Thursday was held on a glorious day - quite warm, but there was a lovely cooling sea breeze in the coastal locations of Moonee Beach and Sapphire Beach.

Gathering for BYO morning tea at Moonee Creek estuary

Hugging the shade, as it turned out to be quite warm
CHGC President 'kicking back'

Wonderful opportunity for both Coffs & Woolgoolga members to chat

Thank you Corinne & John, your garden was a delight
Vanessa's courtyard pots - delightful

A hidden corner of beautiful potted foliage 
Thanks to Vanessa for opening her 'newish' garden

The combined members from Woolgoolga & Coffs Harbour Garden Clubs

Saturday, 22 February 2020

In Our Gardens This Month

Editor Sue has been excited to see some members send her some images of what is happening in their gardens. Thanks Sue, it looks fantastic.

Monday, 10 February 2020

Subtropical Paradise and an Eclectic China Collection

The combined outing for Woolgoolga and Coffs Harbour Garden Clubs was a cracking experience. Firstly we congregated along the Jetty foreshores picnic area for a shared morning tea.

Claudia pointing out the huge Camphor Laurel
The first garden designed and owned by Claudia Neville ( was an absolute treat to visit. The garden runs down quite a steep incline over three blocks.

Hard to appreciate, but there were over 30 people in this garden

A real paradise
The second garden visited held an amazing collection of fine bone china - not as you would expect in a display cabinet, but out in the open with succulents growing in them!

These tea sets were set atop pavers
It was fun for us to recognise many china patterns we have in our own homes.

As seen from this image, there were a LOT of teasets
'Friendship through Gardens' 

Its a Wrap

As can be seen from the image to the left, there is absolutely NOTHING left at Jim's.

There were some plants left over and these will be nurtured by members and brought in to meetings for the Trading Table. So Jim's legacy will live on!

Thanks has to go to all the members who assisted in the lead up to the sale, over the sale weekend or were part of the backyard blitz team who did the final clean up. We even had two or three kind-hearted folk assist at the clean up who didn't have a vested interest in the sale - they just wanted to be a part of the action! 

Treasurer Geoff will give a full breakdown of the sale at the meeting 15 February.

This month continues to be a busy one with the monthly meeting on Sat 15th, outing to Sapphire Beach Thurs 27th and a Bunnings BBQ on Sat 29th. We look forward to lots of member participation at these events.

Once again thank you to team CHGC, you did an amazing job.

Flower of the Month - for the Entire Year!

This year it has been decided to help members really plan for and cultivate their Flower-of-the-Month entry on the competition table by giving advance notice of what flower will be featured each month for the whole year. So, here it is - the advance planning notice. If you haven't got all these plants in your garden, now is the time to get one and start loving it like crazy and feeding it up. 

January - Fuchia
February - Rudbeckia 
March - Camellia Sasanqua 
April - Plectranthus 
May - Banksia 
June - Grevillea
July - Kalanchoe
August - Kangaroo Paw
September - Rose
October - Geranium
November - Petunia

There will still be information about the flower of the month featured on this site each month.

Friday, 31 January 2020

Plant Sale Preparation

Bill hydrating the plants

Its all about fine tuning now for the massive plant sale Saturday 1st February and Sunday 2nd February at 1A York Street, Coffs Harbour (8am-4pm both days unless sold out).

This may be a massive sale, however it has been a massive effort for members of Coffs Garden Club. There was some heavy lifting involved but Ann (above) appeared happy enough to oblige!

Ruth and Mary (above) were happy to assist too - both these ladies have a thorough knowledge of plants and plant sales and are excited to be on sales over the weekend.

Lots of discussion about what was what, as Jim knew them all and so didn't waste too much time labeling everything - it was an exciting time finding some surprising gems. 

Yep, there has been a tremendous amount of 'Jimmy-ied' apparatus gone into the skip in the days leading up to this sale. There is absolutely no doubt in anyone's mind who assisted during this last week that our Jim was a man of invention. For those attending the sale, please take note of the way Jim hung his orchids........ it is pure magic.

Looking forward to seeing plenty of folk attend this sale - Jim Baldi was a wonderful member and we are privileged to think he wanted the club to conduct his last sale for him.

Proceeds will be split between the organisations Jim supported most with his plants - Westpac Helicopter, Vinnies and the Garden Club.

Monday, 27 January 2020


Flower of the Month - February 2020

image Karen Hall

KINGDOM:  Plantae

FAMILY:  Asteraceae

GENUS:  Rudbeckia

Rudbeckia is a plant genus in the Asteraceae family. Rudbeckia flowers feature a prominent, raised central disc in black, brown shades of green, and in-between tones, giving rise to their familiar common names of coneflowers and black-eyed-susans. Rudbeckia is a genus made up of 23 species, which may be annuals, biennials or perennials.

A close cousin is Echinacea which is also often called coneflower. This is in the same family but is typically pink and black or purple and black in colour but its genus is Echinacea. The petals of the Rudbeckia flower grow outward, while the petals of echinacea tend to curve down and outward from the centre of the flower.

Thanks Wikipedia and Newsletter Editor Sue

Outing 30 January 2020

Neville garden - image C. Neville
To see the details of where, what and when of the 30 January outing please visit the website's calendar, which can be seen here

If you would like to see some beautiful images of Claudia Neville's work and also images of the garden we are going to visit, please visit her website

Massive Plant Sale 1/2 Feb 2020

1A York Street, Coffs Harbour

1st & 2nd February 2020

8:00am - 4:00pm both days unless sold out

This sale features the collection of a passionate and committed plant propagator - there are 100s of potted plants on offer including orchids, veggies, herbs, succulents, ornamentals and much more.

The sale includes garden 'things' including some mowers which need some TLC.

There are masses of free pots and trays but it might be an excellent idea to bring along your own box/bags for your bargains.

Proceeds of this sale will support Westpac Rescue Helicopter, St Vincent DePaul and Coffs Garden Club.

Thank you to the many members of Coffs Harbour Garden Club who are doing the two day preparation for this sale, manning the stall on Saturday and Sunday and for the post sale clean up on the Monday........ many hands, a huge THANKS.

Guest Speaker from the 'Frogarium'

Peter Johnson will be the speaker at the February meeting. Peter has been breeding frogs since 1985 and established his ‘frogarium’ some years ago and has had to ‘jump through some hoops’ to get it approved and open to the public. You may have noticed the enormous bird-cage structures at the garden centre at Boambee (aka Garden Mania), this is where Peter’s ‘frogarium’ is situated.
Peter says that ‘frogarium’ is not actually a word however, he hopes that it will become quite well known!
Peter is especially proud to be the only person who has successfully bred the Giant Barred frog in captivity. This frog sprays its eggs on the roofs of caves, where they cannot touch water until the tadpole forms. 
We look forward to hearing more about Peter’s passion – frogs at the February 2020 meeting. Please visit Peter's Frogarium website.

Saturday, 25 January 2020

Vale Ben Swane

This site published a post about Ben Swane 13 June 2017 when Ben was in his 90th year. Yesterday I attended this wonderful man's funeral in Sydney. Ben will forever remain 'The Legend' in our hearts. Rest in Peace dear friend.

Ben Swane

image NGINA
Ben Swane is affectionately know as 'The Legend' within Horticultural circles and deservedly so. He is so inured with all things horticultural that even as a young fella he had his fingers in the dirt. Ben's Dad said he could use some land for whatever purpose he wished and so the young lad started growing vegetables. So successful was he that a local greengrocer at West Ryde purchased vegetables from the then, 12 year old.

Both Ben and his brother Geoffrey, were educated at Newington Collage, Stanmore and Ben often said how he hated every day (most probably interrupted his commercial efforts at home with the vegetables!). Ben came to realise later in life however,  that education is an important tool for life. Swane's Nursery set in place an apprenticeship scheme that was the envy of not only the horticultural industry, but many other industries as well. There are many of our current horticultural specialists who had their grounding at Swane's Dural nursery. Of the five Swane siblings four were involved in the horticultural industry - Valerie, Elwyn, Geoffrey and Ben, all shared a love of horticulture and a solid work ethic. 

His contribution to the Nursery industry has been immense, serving on boards of the Nursery and Garden Industry Association and the Royal Agricultural Society of NSW for many years, attaining life membership of both. He is valued for his eminent body of horticultural knowledge and industry experience. For many years he advised the Australian Citrus Propagation Association, the Elizabeth Macarthur Agricultural Institute, the NSW Department of Industry and Investment, Plant Breeders' Rights Committee with the Department of Primary Industries and the International Plant Propagators' Society. He was a long serving member of Rotary and served for three decades as a district co-ordinator for the Red Shield Appeal.

image ABC Gardening
Widely acknowledged for his vast specialised horticultural knowledge and one of Australia's most accomplished rose growers, Ben's special gift is as an educator. Whether advising the novice gardener as a radio commentator with his quick wit, or speaking at gardening forums or conventions, his ability to engage the practical gardener in a calmly informative, yet accessible manner is unparalleled. 

An example of his wit comes to mind when a caller to Simon Marnie's Saturday Gardening segment on Sydney ABC radio said 'My husband has been using Glyphosate to clean up the weeds around the roses on our driveway and they are looking a bit sick, what can I give them to bounce back?' to which Ben quietly said 'Are the divorce papers through yet?'

When you ask Ben what is his most proud achievement? He responds, firstly my family and then the successful breeding and commercial success of a pencil pine 'Swanes Golden' Cupressus Sempervirens Stricta.  This tree was patented in the USA for 20 years and was a huge success for Ben. 

Over the years Ben has been recognised for his contribution to the horticultural industry: Department of Primary Industries awarded Ben in 1995 the Plant Breeders' Rights Registrars Award for recognition of his outstanding vision and contribution. In 2005 Ben was the recipient of the Graham Gregory Award for research and development in Australia. In 2008 he was awarded the Waratah Award, from the Nursery and Garden Industry NSW and ACT Ltd and lastly in 2011 he was awarded a Member of the Order of Australia for services to horticulture and to business, to the development of the Australian native plants export trade, and through executive roles with a range of industry based organisations. Now you know why this man was given his tag 'The Legend'.

Podcast from ABC Gardening - Ben was 88 when this was filmed in his garden with Costa.

Friday, 24 January 2020

Garden Clubs of Australia Calendar Submissions

CHGC have a few avid photographers at the moment and just to remind you there are photo competitions conducted by The Garden Clubs of Australia each year. If you think you may have got what it takes to perhaps take out a prize in these competition please see the following links:

To see calendar submission information please go to the following link Garden Clubs of Australia Calendar Submission.

The Garden Clubs of Australia also conduct a photography competition with many different categories. To see this information and download the entry form please visit this link.

One thing to remember is that only members of affiliated Clubs may enter - in other words if you are a member of Coffs Garden Club - you can enter.

All the best and the calendar submissions close in the fortnight so you had better get cracking!

Wednesday, 22 January 2020

News from Asia

Former CHGC member Ray now resides in Asia and he sent some photos of the flower market in Hong Kong. Due to Chinese New Year, things are really gearing up for the festival, so there is a plentiful supply of blooms available for purchase.

Mong Kok is an area in Kowloon, Hong Kong. The Prince Edward area occupies the northern part of Mong Kok which is one of the major shopping areas in Hong Kong where many tourists flock to while visiting HK. 

The area is characterised by a mixture of old and new multi-story buildings, with shops and restaurants at street level, and commercial or residential units above.

Mong Kok is a buzzing maze of narrow streets with stalls selling clothes, knick-knacks, plants and colourful blooms at the Flower Market.

Thank you Ray for sharing your photos with us.

Monday, 20 January 2020

Fundraising BBQ

apologise for this terrible image

These two CHGC members are at the ready to commence selling. Chef for the day (and ably assisted by Nicole), David Hunt (L) and BBQ Coordinator Simon Young (R) worked tirelessly all day. Well done team!

and for this one too, sorry guys

Thank you to all members who assisted with this BBQ.

Don't rest too much though, the next one is on the 29th February. 

As voted at the 18 January meeting proceeds from these BBQs and the mega raffle conducted in 2019 will go towards the running of the 2020 Spring Garden Competition and Coffs Garden Club's contribution to Bush Fire Relief.

Sunday, 19 January 2020

Monthly Meeting Bounty

image M. Hunt

Beautiful vegetables grown in President Margaret's garden where a highlight of the January meeting. This vegetable collection won that category on the Competition Table and afterwards Margaret placed this on the Trading Table, what bounty for the members!

Past President Sue gave a presentation on the Carpenter Bee which included a podcast conversation with Toby Smith. To hear this conversation please use this link: abc radio conversation

image Sue Young of a Carpenter Bee in salvia in her garden
Toby Smith is an Australian native been researcher. He states in this podcast that there are more than two thousand species but only eleven of those bees actually make honey.

Thank you Sue (and ABC radio) it was an interesting segment to our first meeting of 2020.

Tuesday, 14 January 2020

January Outing

The first outing for 2020 is happening 30 January - thanks Margaret F, you've got us off to a flying start with some special destinations this month.

Meet 10:00am - Jetty Foreshores
First undercover pavilion, just past the TS Vandetta building (this is the grey building where the cadets meet near the jetty), Jordan Esplanade, Coffs. BYO morning tea or something to share.

1st Garden - 155 Edinburgh St, Coffs 
Claudia Nevell's garden (a Coffs Coast garden designer who featured recently on Michael McCoy's 'Dream Gardens' on ABC TV). Access is from the rear of the property so best to park on Moore St and walk down the path to the rear of 155 - Margaret will have full details at our meeting.

2nd Garden - 298 Harbour Drive, Coffs
This garden is just short of the old hospital site on the left hand side of Harbour Drive going west towards the city from the Jetty area. If we run out of space to park on Harbour Drive, there is parking available in Boambee Street (which is the next side street close to the garden). Jill is a succulent collector so this should be a very interesting garden.

Lunch will be at the Yacht Club so it is imperative that you RSVP to Margaret NO LATER than Tuesday 28 January 0421 366 013 or email

Woolgoolga Garden Club and Coffs Garden Clubs combine their outings (friendship through gradens) on the last Thursday of each month. This year (like last year) outings will be alternated between gardens in the north and those in the south.

Bunnings BBQ

Yep, the first of our fundraising BBQs is happening Sunday 19 January, so the Coffs Garden Club are off to a flying start in 2020!

Coordinator Simon is well prepared however, if you'd like to turn the odd snag or assist during the day please contact him on 0417 526 522.

The image to the left is not how Bunnings would like us to serve our sausage sanger - its onions on the bottom please!

First Meeting for 2020

Welcome to 2020, hope that this year brings rain and much joy to all.

Our first meeting is this Saturday 18 January, commencing at 1:30pm (come a little early to natter and place your items on the Competition Table) at the Display Room, Coffs Botanic Garden.

Australia has around 1600 species of native bees and Past President Sue is going to do a short segment on just one of those - the Great Carpenter Bee. These bees are found in tropical and subtropical areas of Australia and are what we know as buzz pollinators - that is they vibrate the flowers, making the pollen shoot out of little capsules, very clever!

Our usual yummy afternoon tea prepared by our wonderful catering team at the mighty cost of $2 is an absolute 'must not miss'.

Please bring your offerings to the trading table (TT). As you are all aware our TT stalwart Jim Baldi is no long with us so it is up to the rest of the membership to keep this worthwhile part of our meeting happening.

There's lots taking place in the next couple of weeks for our Club - we can look forward to exciting times.

Sunday, 5 January 2020


Flower of the Month - January 2020

KINGDOM:  Plantae

FAMILY:  Onagroideae

GENUS:  Fuchsia

The first, Fuchsia triphylla, was discovered on the Caribbean island of Hispaniola (Haiti and the Cominican Republic) about 1696-1697 by the French Minim monk and botanist, Charles Plumier, during his third expedition to the Greater Antilles, He named the new genus after German botanist Leonhart Fuchs (1501-1566).
Thanks Wikipedia

More on Fuchsia:

Fuchsia can be grown in all parts of eastern and southern parts of Australia and some areas of Queensland, South Australia and Western Australia. The wild fuchsia of Ireland's hedgerows, especially those of the west of Ireland, is famous and has featured on many a tourist brochure. This is Fuchsia magellanica 'Riccartonii' and originates from Chile and Argentina, often not very appreciated by the locals in Ireland but loved by tourists.

Fuchsia are excellent grown direct in the garden, pots or hanging baskets. They will give many years of pleasure with a little maintenance.

If you are a child, there are three obvious things to do with fuchsia flowers - one, gently pop open the inflated buds to reveal the petals inside, two, remove the stigma and six of the eight stamens to make a pin-headed ballerina doll and three, send her to the guillotine and suck the sweet nectar from her neck - our children did all three much to the disgust of their grandfather!

Fuchsia originate from the rainforests of South America and have been cultivated into over 5,000 varieties! They have the most gorgeous colours and seem to have an infinite number of combinations, sizes and forms and they flower for an extended period.

Most fuchsias prefer a semi-shaded aspect, morning sun, afternoon shade, underneath trees with filtered sun. If they are planted in dense shade they will grow very leggy and produce very few flowers. Too much sun will burn the foliage and flowers. Soil should be free draining, free of clay and rich in nutrients such as animal manures or blood and bone.

A tip from a relative of ours - take plenty of tip cuttings and strike them - that way you've a handy supply if there is a Fuchsia demise.

If you'd like more information please visit Brenlissa Online Nursery and they can assist you with any questions.

Wednesday, 1 January 2020

VALE Jim Baldi

It is always amazing that when someone leaves this world there is always something you find out about them that you didn't know. In Jim's case I wasn't aware that he was such an amazing 'gun' fisherman - this man caught some very substantial fish during his lifetime - some amazing catches. As you are aware, Jim wasn't a very large man but he was simply dwarfed by some of his catches.

Jim was a very special member of Coffs Garden Club; he was known for his ready smile and jokes and his reliability in providing many propagated plants for our Trading Table, legendary. 

Farewell friend.