Indigenous Garden on the ex-Queenscliff High School Site
An indigenous garden is being installed on the ex-Queenscliff High School site (on King St) - a lovely spot with views over Swan Bay. We grow the plants at the Swan Bay Nursery and some of our members are assisting with the planting - more volunteers are always welcome.
Working Bees are held on a regular basis. Please contact Deb on 0409 553051
If possible take gloves, a rake or small digging equipment with you for this working bee.
Watch for Weeds
This is the time of the year when you need to scan your gardens for any unexpected, uninvited visitors.
As the weather warms up and the spring rains do their job, weeds are liable to pop up uninvited in your garden. I have found many Cotoneaster, Sweet Pittosporum, Mirror Bush and Italian Buckthorn seedlings coming up in my garden. Another uninvited guest is the Cape Leeuwin Wattle. You will see these around Point Lonsdale and Queenscliff. They have the ferny, lacy leaves found in some wattles and sprays of pale yellow flowers. Their seed pods are long and flat, and their seeds remain viable for some years, so they will continue to come up even if you don’t know of a plant nearby.
It is tempting to keep those plants that have been kind enough to grace your garden with their presence, and it can seem a bit churlish to pull them out, but if these plants have found their way into your garden then chances are that they will become a problem.
I have found that the more indigenous trees and shrubs I have in my garden, the more the weeds find me. I blame the increased presence of birds in the garden. They eat the berries and seeds of these weeds then they come and spread the seeds under their favourite perches in your garden. Watch up for patches of unidentified plants coming up – it is much easier to pull them out while they are young.
Watch for plants in your own garden that seem to spread easily, too. I have pulled out a couple of plants in my garden that have been given to me by friends and were not a problem in their gardens but seemed to thrive in our conditions. If they spread rapidly in your garden then chances are they will become a problem down the track.
If you want to know what some of the problem weeds are in our area, visit http://www.weeds.org.au/vicmap.htm and click on our part of Victoria. Have a look at the pictures – weeds have many attractive features. They may be fast growing, good for wind breaks, edible, colourful or easy to propagate. If they didn’t have some of these features then we probably wouldn’t have bothered to introduce them in the first place. It is these features, though, that often make them weeds – especially those that are fast growing and easy to propagate.
Keep an eye on which plants are problems in our area and either don’t plant them, or pull them out if you already have them. Be careful of how you dispose of them, too. If they have seed heads then it is probably safest to bag them up and leave them in the sun to die off rather than sending them to the tip to propagate there.
Do the rounds of your garden regularly – pull up any new weeds before they have a chance to flower or consider replacing any of your mature plants that are problem plants in our area.
Come and visit the Swan Bay Community Nursery in Nelson Rd. The nursery is open from 10-12 every 3rd Sunday of the month. Plants are sold for 50c each, and we can offer some good suggestions for plants to replace those weeds.
Propagation of Rare Species
Some previously rare indigenous species are now being propagated by the Swan Bay Environment Association community nursery and are available to the public in small numbers.
A report written by Mark Trengove in 1992 identified the location of indigenous plant species across the Borough, some of which he only found at Ballara, a local property that was once the holiday home of Alfred Deakin and has remained in the family.
SBEA received funding from the Department of Sustainability and Environment to propagate some of these species, and although propagation has only been undertaken over the last year we are already starting to get some good results.
One of our SBEA members recently wrote in a letter to us “I am so glad to see that the plant species at Ballara are being recorded and endeavours made to propagate them. I have fond memories of Ballara, having taken part in their annual nativity plays in the late 1920s and early 1930s which were held in a bush theatre on the property”. Being in the Deakin family since this time and remaining relatively untouched, Ballara has remained a haven for some of the plants that once would have been more widespread in the Point Lonsdale area.
One of the more well-known species that we have grown is the Oyster Bay Pine. Mark Trengove writes that as this tree has been known as a local plant in Point Lonsdale for many generations, with historical references to the “pines” growing at Ballara, this can be regarded as a member of the local flora. A tall, slender pine, the Oyster Bay Pine should make a good garden plant.
Grass Trees have also been propagated by seed from Ballara, but although we have had a good strike rate, these slow-growing plants will not be available for sale at the nursery for a couple of years.
Another plant that seems to be establishing well is the Hairy Pennywort. This is a ground cover with small, round, hairy leaves and small green flowers. Although fragile at first, when the autumn rain arrived these started to put on growth from the root stock. Other plants that we have started to plant out are Tassel Rope Rush, a small attractive rush with cylindrical leaves that have bands of green and rusty-red, Variable Sword Sedge and Common Flat Pea (which sounds a lot more appealing by its botanical name of Platylobium obtusangulum – the second part of this name referring to the shape of its leaves). This plant flowers in spring and has very attractive yellow and red pea flowers.
As we expand the areas in which these plants are grown by planting them throughout the Borough, we increase the long-term viability of these species. If for any reason they were lost at Ballara, these species would not be lost forever to our local area.