Friday, 30 August 2019

Only Seven Days to Go - Entries Close 6 Sep 2019

Entries in the 2019 Spring Garden Competition close Friday 6 September at 5:00pm.


Entry forms may be picked up from Botanic Gardens, Total Gardens, Local Libraries, Mitre 10 Woolgoolga, and mailed to PO Box 885, Coffs Harbour or simply click here to complete an on-line entry form.

If you have any queries please email or call either Pat 6690 2511 or Maria 6656 2429.

NB:  The gardens of the Schools and Industrial/Commercial and Community Sections do not form part of the Open Gardens on 22 September.

Entries close Friday 6 September at 5:00pm.


Sunday, 18 August 2019

2019 Coffs Harbour Spring Garden Competition

The 2019 Coffs Harbour Spring Garden Competition is now open for entry. You can enter online by clicking here or on the Spring Garden Competition Button at the top of our Home Page.

If you require a paper entry form these can be found at The Botanic Garden, Total Gardens, Coffs Landscape Centre, Woolgoolga Mitre 10, area libraries (Toormina, Coffs & Woolgoolga), Toormina MI Organics and Woolgoolga Seniors Centre.

Entry is free with lots of great prizes so why not have a go, you could be surprised!


Tools, Worms and Great Colour

Stunning exhibits on the Competition Table
For the August meeting we had almost as many apologies as attendees however, there was amazing exhibits on the competition table, interesting talk about worm farms and some pretty useful tools shared.

CHGC Member Mary gave a very interesting talk on how she looks after her worm farms, the uses for the castings and what she does with the worm wee that they produce.

Mary said that there will be a segment on an upcoming Gardening Australia program, when this is aired it'll be shared to this page for your interest.

Mary is very particular about her worms so there couldn't be a better person to give this talk. She has committed herself to giving talks each month on our Flower of the Month - the membership are very happy to hear all about that.

We also had a show and tell on gardening tools - Mary was first showing this rather odd looking weeder. Apparently you insert the prongs over the weed, push down on the leaver with your foot and the prongs grasp the weed, give it a yank and out comes the weed!

Anne Maree had this little tool which she uses to remove weeds in pavers or brick paths.

She just runs it along the groove and the weeds are dragged out - brilliant!

Next was President Margaret with her tool - with this she demolished practically a house, removed tiles and a myriad of other indoor type things. 

However, this tool has come into its own on the block where Margaret now resides. There are rocks, rocks and even more rocks which have all needed to be removed to create her lovely garden space. With this 'Jemmy' tool Margaret says it is an absolute gem to have on hand for the tough work of rock removal.

According to wikipedia this tool is called many things including a crowbar, wrecking bar, pry bar, pinch-bar, jimmy, jemmy, gooseneck or pig foot - take any name but it gets the job done.

Next was Ruth who said that this large spatula is not only good for flipping burgers on the BBQ but excellent for digging around plants to weed. 

The sharp edge is terrific also for loosening up soil too - so a multi purpose tool.

Robyn told us about her favourite tool but didn't bring it with her - perhaps if she is around for the next meeting she can bring it then when there will be another show and tell on tools - September meeting on the 21st.

See some of the stunning flowers and pots that were on the competition table. Just gorgeous!

Phil's beautiful Anthurium

Camellias, Azaleas and Magnolia

Always puts on a show - Primula

Vireya - just a single stem!

Brom, pristine condition

Apparently this was looking dead last year,
some TLC and just look at it!

Lovely collection

Ever popular freesias

Tuesday, 13 August 2019

Bring a Tool Meeting

This Saturday (17 August) could members bring their favourite tool with them to our meeting - I know there's going to be the odd joke made!

If you have something that makes a job easier in your garden and it is small enough to bring, please share your brilliant tool with the rest of the membership.


Inorganic mulch used (on left) for a fantastic effect - Tarry garden
Champion 2018 Spring Garden Competition
Thinking of sprucing up your piece of paradise in preparation for the 2019 Spring Garden Competition? Mulching might be the 'icing' on your garden 'cake' to make it look very spiffy for the judges come September. BUT choosing the ideal mulch is a very tricky decision. In this post I will outline the different types of mulch, the advantages of mulching, the disadvantages of mulching and my conclusion on what to choose.

There are three basic types of mulch:
  • Inorganic mulch such as aggregate - gravel, decorative pebbles, crushed rock sand etc stuff that does not break down (as seen in image above).
  • Organic mulch such as eucalyptus leaf litter, wood chips, pine bark chips, compost, lawn clippings, pea straw, stable straw, lucern hay, seaweed, manure, sugar cane mulch, paper etc - stuff that does break down.
  • Living mulch this is any dense growing ground cover plants.

The advantages of mulching and the primary reasons to mulch:

  • Is to mimic growing conditions in a natural habitat;
  • Retain moisture by reducing evaporation - therefore more efficient use of water resources;
  • An effective and safe way to reduce weeds;
  • Using organic mulches will result in the soil benefiting from the addition of nutrients (ie nitrogen and other trace elements) as the mulch breaks down over time. This helps to create good soil structure, microbes and biological activity in the soil enhancing micro-organisms which will in turn, promote good plant health;
  • Protects the soil surface from compacting and erosion in heavy rain events (an important consideration on the Coffs Coast);
  • Using a living mulch (ground cover) will add diversity to the garden by adding additional texture, form and versatility.
  • By mulching, the garden looks pretty good too, it has to be said!

The disadvantages of mulching:

  • The soil needs to be wet/damp before the mulch is applied. Recently in Coffs there hasn't been a lot of rain so it would be best if the ground was given a good soaking before mulching;
  • By putting too deep a layer of mulch where it becomes hydrophobic - that is the water doesn't penetrate to the soil and the mulch repels water rather than letting it soak through;
  • The use of green material (lawn clippings) for mulching can be detrimental to soil health as it will break down the soil's nitrogen supplies as it is used up in decomposition. By adding extra nitrogen (eg Blood and bone) to compensate for this before the application of the mulch is the way to go.
  • Sometimes the use of heavy layers of cardboard or paper may not be such a good idea as it may attract nematodes and be colonised by termites;
  • As organic material breaks down it coats the soil with a wax-like substance making the soils (and especially sandy soils) water repellent. Applications of soil wetting agents are very effective and well worth using to overcome this problem, if you have it;
  • One thing to bear in mind is NOT to use mushroom compost for acid loving plants eg azaleas, rhododendrons, hydrangeas, camellias, blueberries and some vegetables like sweet corn, cucumbers, beans, broccoli, zucchini and onions;
  • As organic mulch needs to be topped up every year or so it can be a bit expensive if you've a large area to cover;
  • Inorganic mulch can look a bit shabby over time as debris falls on top and this material can be difficult and time consuming to remove.
  • Living mulches require a lot of time to grow so patience is needed for this method.
Living mulch of Grevillea porinda Royal Mantle - Clague garden
winner Block over 4001 square metres 2018

Mulching tips:

  • Prepare the area well by removing any grass, weeds and dead plants from the garden;
  • Plant new plants before applying the mulch layer;
  • Good mulching times are in mid spring or early summer (now is ideal);
  • If you are going to install a drip watering system, this should be done before the mulch is applied;
  • Do not pile mulch up against the stems and trunks of plants - this will encourage rot and perhaps the death of the plants;
  • If you are wanting to mulch Australian Native plants as a general rule these plants do not like nitrogen so an inorganic mulch might be best for this application. Rainforest plants are the exception of course, as they enjoy deep green organic material.

My conclusion?

Don't really have one......... there are positive reasons for mulching including weed suppression, appearance, moisture retention and by the same token there are reasons for not mulching too - cost, work involved, imbalance of nutrients. So I guess it is really up to the individual and the garden itself.

There are many different mulches available from your local nursery or landscape supplier - Cypress chip/mulch, Hardwood chip/fines, Native Mulch, Pinebark (various sizes), Pine Sawdust, Red Diamond Chips, Tea Tree Mulch, Uni Mulch and lots and lots of Aggregate - river pebbles, gravels, volcanic rock etc. 

My advice would be to have a good think about where you are going to mulch, what plants will be growing there, how much $$ you've got to spend and what is practical for you to apply - not much point getting a tip truck full of heavy aggregate if you've a dodgy back. 

If you are preparing your garden for the competition it would be best to get the mulching done now (if you haven't already done it) rather than the days leading up to judging time. It settles well into your landscape and doesn't have that 'instant' covering up look.

Happy mulching!

Friday, 9 August 2019


Flower of the Month August 2019

KINGDOM:  Plantae

FAMILY:  Magnoliaceae

GENUS:  Magnolia


Magnolias are ancient trees. They appeared before bees had evolved and thus had to rely on beetles to do the pollinating work. Beetles are a clumsy lot compared with dancing bees, and so the flowers need to be robust, with thick, waxy petals that reflect in moonlight, when the beetles are up, and tough inner carpels, heady with fruit scent so pleasing to a beetle's nose. Guardian

Magnolias are named after French botanist Pierre MagnolWikipedia

Please bring your favourite for the competition table at our next meeting - 17 August.

Past CHGC President Jane did an excellent presentation on Magnolias - you can see this presentation here.

Wednesday, 7 August 2019

Club Birthday and 2019 Garden Comp Launch

Past entrants (some winners in previous years) were among the crowd at the North Coast Regional Botanic Garden Coffs Harbour on 27 July to launch the 2019 Spring Garden Competition.

President Margaret Crawley & Patron Patricia Roser of Coffs Harbour Garden Club
George Hoad President Garden Clubs of Australia and Marion Watts Zone coordinator
for this region of Garden Clubs of Australia cutting the cake
which CHGC member Mary Booth had made
The day also marked the 40th birthday of Coffs Harbour Garden Club, with past members, current members and representatives of Garden Clubs of Australia on hand to help celebrate.

Margaret Franks and Local Member Gurmesh Singh

Qualified Garden Clubs of Australia Judge, Margaret Franks has judged the Schools' categories in this competition for a few years now. She is always delighted to see the developmental changes each year in the competition.

CHGC Members David Hunt and Mary Booth with Larry Langman, Landcare

Larry Langman from Landcare was in attendance to spread the word about native alternatives for common garden escapees.

Patron and Life Member Pat Roser with Tom Ely - Barbara Fitzgerald on right

CHGC Treasurer Tom Ely was the MC for the afternoon and kept everything on the move.

MC Tom Ely introducing Maria Bell

CHGC Secretary Maria Bell gave a very brief history of the Coffs Harbour Spring Garden Competition.

Patricia Roser OAM receiving the GCA Ann Williams Clark Medallion
from George Hoad, President Garden Clubs of Australia

Patron & Life Member Patricia Roser was honoured to receive The Ann Williams Clark Medallion - this is a prestigious Garden Clubs of Australia Medallion awarded to a club member who has illustrated over a long period solid contribution and support to a garden club. 

Pat has been a Zone Coordinator for Garden Clubs of Australia (GCA), instrumental in the establishment of Woolgoolga Garden Club, President and Secretary of Coffs Garden Club, a committee member on various committees including - Garden Competition, Speakers, Outings and a principle on the Steering Committee for the GCA Conference held in Coffs Harbour 2003. Pat has always shown a willingness to participate in any undertaking of the garden club, this award could not be given to a more worthy recipient - Congratulations Pat.

CHGC Member Penny Halford demonstrating her talent
at floral art
 There was member participation on the day too. Penny Halford quickly demonstrated how to make gorgeous arrangements using diverse materials including structural flowers like Strelitzia, natives, roses, textural foliage and other flowers supplied from member's gardens.

Tom introducing Julie Worland
Julie Worland has a huge reputation around Coffs as being a very knowledgeable horticulturalist and kept the crowd spellbound by talking about gardening - even the problem of trying to maintain a garden with a puppy!

CHGC President Margaret Crawley

Club President Margaret Crawley gave a brief history of the club, the main highlights over the years and the many community based undertakings that the club has performed.

George Hoad, President Garden Clubs of Australia
presenting a certificate to President Margaret
marking the 40th birthday of Coffs Harbour Garden Club

The club were delighted to have the President of Garden Clubs of Australia present at this function. It was a thrill for Margaret Crawley to accept this certificate from George Hoad.

The event wouldn't be complete without some celebratory food - all provided by members of Coffs Harbour Garden Club, no wonder the club has the reputation for providing a 'good old fashioned supper'. It was a wonderful high tea to finish off a stunning afternoon.

Thanks to all who participated in any way. I guess what is left is for there to many, many entries in the 2019 Spring Garden Competition!

David Hunt, winner of the decorated hat competition

North Coast Regional Botanic Garden, Coffs Harbour

Plant Profile: Caring and Planting Magnolias

This is the flower of the month for August 2019. This segment from Garden Australia is a beauty - Jane is really enjoying her visit to the Dandenong Ranges Botanic Garden.