Bournda National Park is a very special part of our beautiful Sapphire Coast. We first discovered this area in May 2012 at the start of a 2 week holiday on the NSW South Coast. It is situated between Tathra and Merimbula, 15 km SE of Bega, and covers 2590 hectares. The Park was declared in 1992. ‘Bournda’ means ‘place of teatrees and kangaroos’ in the local aboriginal dialect. This is a photograph of a map of Bournda National Park from ‘The NPA Guide to National Parks of Southern NSW’ by Peter Wright.We camped at the Hobart Beach Campground for 4 days and were very impressed with the amenities, especially the hot showers! Being May, there were very few campers and we had the place mostly to ourselves, except for the bell miners, wonga pigeons and choughs!!
The campground is situated on the southern shore of Wallagoot Lake, a large saltwater estuary on Monck’s Creek, which was last opened up to the ocean in June 2008. It is stunningly beautiful, especially at sunrise and sunset.There are a number of short walks from the campground to the local beach and brackish Bournda Lagoon, formed by alluvial deposits from Margaret Creek; freshwater Bondi Lake and the 210 m high Bournda Trig to its west; and Scott’s Hut, a relic of former agricultural days. The latter is of bush post and beam construction with sapling rafters, slab walls, three rooms, a timber floor and an iron gable roof. The central room has a large stone fire place with an iron chimney. The hut was constructed in 1890 by Thomas Scott. It was originally one of two buildings and was used as a kitchen, dining and storage area.
You can also drive from the northern side of Wallagoot Lake to Turingal Head, the southern end of the Kangarutha Track, which follows the coast 9 km north from Wallagoot Gap to Games Bay, then White Rock, Kangarutha Point, Boulder Bay and Wild Horse Bay before ending at Kianinny Bay, just south of Tathra.
We walked the first third of the track to Games Bay. The Games family cleared the land here back in the early 1900s for dairy farming and growing rockmelons for seed. It is a beautiful walk, with plenty of interesting geology, flora and fauna, as well as stunning coastal views and delightful little rocky coves and rugged headlands 30 – 40 m high. The underlying rock is mainly rhyolite, a solidified lava from a volcanic eruption almost 400 Million years ago.
Here are some photos from our walk :
Wallagoot Lake from the North :Turingal Head and Wallagoot Gap :
The bush track through Coast Banksias and architectural tunnels formed by Bracelet Honey Myrtle :
Stunning coastal scenery looking north to Games Bay and south to Bournda Island :Games Bay :
What a wonderful place for a feast! An aboriginal midden on the headland at Games Bay :Conch shell and orange lichen :
A possible aboriginal stone artefact and a rock covered with a variety of lichens and mosses :
Most of the park supports a Dry Eucalypt forest of Woollybutt, Silvertop Ash, Blackbutt, White Stringybark and Yellow Stringybark, as well as Forest Oaks. Pockets of Gallery rainforest – Coachwood, Lilly Pilly, Sassafras, Rusty Fig, Cabbage Tree Palms, Wattles and Pittosporum, ferns, orchids and vines – line the creeks at Boulder Bay, Games Bay, Sandy Beach and Margaret Creek.
Hakea macraeana and Sunshine Wattle (Acacia terminalis subsp angustifolia) :
The fruit of Sweet Pittosporum (Pittosporum undulatum) top and Hairy Pittosporum (Pittosporum revolutum) below :Orange fungi (Pycnoporus coccineus) and catkins of the male Sheoak (Casuarina cunninghamiana) :Calocera sinensis and a Correa reflexa :
Sandpaper Fig (Ficus coronata) and Rock Orchids (Dendrobium speciosum) :Photos of the animals and birdlife :
Stalked Sea Tulip (Pyura gibbosa gibbosa) and Porcupine Fish :
Little Pied Cormorant and a White-Faced Heron :White-Breasted Sea Eagle and an Eastern Grey Kangaroo :
Roo Footprints and a Swamp Wallaby :Red-Necked Wallabies :
The next day, we drove up to Tathra and the northern end of the track at Kianinny Bay. See my post : https://candeloblooms.com/2016/01/21/the-jewel-in-the-crown-tathra-and-kianinny-bay/From there, you can access the rough 4WD track south to White Rock, a white pipeclay deposit used in brick manufacture from the 1960s till the early 90s.These unfortunate, but very well-camouflaged, flathead were left behind in their own rock pool, high on the rocks at White Rock.
Officially, it’s the start of Autumn, but Summer is not quite ready to give up her reign, with a run of temperatures in the early to mid-thirties and quite high humidity over the past few weeks, though it has cooled off the last two days! It’s been wonderful for beach visits and sunbaking pumpkins! We have discovered a beautiful cooling swimming hole in the bend of the Bega River as it enters the sea!We have finally harvested the Jap pumpkins! Here they are soaking up the last of the Summer sun before joining their cousins in the shed. The late warmth is also great for extending the growing season of our plants – I may yet get to view some of the new Dahlia flowers. The first flowerbuds are already forming!The Autumn raspberry crop is in full production- we have actually been able to feast on THREE raspberry fruits each at the one picking on one occasion! Luxury!!! The tomatoes and capsicums are still very productive.The northern vegie bed has been planted up with its last vegetables for the season before the Winter shade : new carrots, lettuce and spinach with potatoes on the left and raspberries on the trellis at the back.We may yet get our 2nd potato crop of Dutch Creams, so long as the 28-spotted lady beetle doesn’t decimate the foliage first! All the organic gurus advise that the best way to control them is to handpick off the ladybirds and their eggs and larvae, then squash them or drown them in a small amount of methylated spirits. Quite a task, but necessary, as we don’t want to kill all the ‘good’ ladybirds and other beneficial insects! There is such an amazing diversity of wondrous insects in our garden. Whenever we venture down into the garden, we are assaulted by masses of butterflies from white Cabbage Moths flitting madly from plant to plant; The more humble browns sitting quietly on foliage; And majestic courting Orchard Butterflies chasing each other around the garden. We also discovered this precious little spotted moth and a stunning striped metallic green fly! The colourful zinnias host some equally stunning red and black beetles; While the roses are home to grasshoppers and tiny spiders:Here is our old friend, The Blue-banded Bee, pollinating the Gaura in the Soho Bed. I can’t wait to discover the creators of these leaf cocoons high up in the Kurrajong tree.The abundance of insect life provides food for those higher up the food chain. This little brown frog hunts at night-time, while a variety of birds enchant us during the day. Now that the big boys of the Cockatoo family have finished their fruit-picking season, the smaller birds have reappeared. They especially love the birdbath on these hot days and often a number of different species will be taking the waters together!
We often see a pair of resident Eastern Spinebills (first 3 photos) and a lone Yellow-faced Honeyeater bathing or foraging for food together. The last 3 photos are of Yellow-faced Honeyeaters (2 photos of an immature bird and the last an adult Honeyeater)
We saw a New Holland Honeyeater partaking of the birdbath for the first time yesterday.We have also watched a myriad of other small birds plunging in for a refreshing dip including : both Yellow (1st photo) and Brown Thornbills (2nd and 3rd photo). Other little birds include a White-throated Scrub Wren, Silver-Eyes and a Grey Fantail (photo below); A flock of Double-barred Finches has been grazing on the lawn.Larger birds like female Blackbirds and Bower Birds are also attracted to the birdbath for a cool drink. We have heard the call of a Golden Whistler from the bottom of the garden, but have been unable to locate it yet, but I did finally see and photograph our cuckoo baby, an immature Common Koel, whose incessant calls plagued us last month and I am gradually improving on my attempts to capture the Gang-Gang fly-past! Because this new camera has been upgraded from a 20x zoom to a 30x zoom, I am still learning how to control it, especially for objects in close or mid-range, which often end up blurred! It is however perfect for long-distance shots like the cuckoo, flying birds and even the moon!!! Back on earth, its namesake, the Moon Bed, is looking so established now. The David Austin roses are positively romping and the daisies are in full bloom. We planted a blue-purple flowering Salvia ‘Indigo Spires’, bought recently at the Lanyon Plant Fair, between William Morris and Lucetta and next to the daisy and their colours complement each other perfectly! All the roses are blooming so profusely- it is almost like they know Winter is coming!!! The first 3 photos are of my favourite Jude the Obscure, followed by Golden Celebration (photo 4), Troilus (photo 5), Heritage (photo 6) and Lucetta (last 2 photos). The Soho Bed is also full of colour and scent. I love the golden-orange Lolita, as you can see in the 3 photos below!
Elsewhere in the garden, Alister Stella Gray (photo 1), Penelope (photo 2) and Devoniensis (photo 3) are also in full bloom.Here are some photos of this month’s bouquets.
The Cutting Garden is still ablaze with sizzling Zinnias, sprawling orange dahlias and intense purple and softer mauve cosmos. Nearby the rhododendron throws out a beautiful red bloom.The bright orange cannas glow like flames in the late afternoon sun. The Banksia is laden with golden candles and the protea is forming pink buds. The hydrangea bed provides a cooling respite on these hot days. I love the delicate mauve and white flowers of the feral Duranta. The white Nerine bulbs are gearing up for next month, as is the Tree Dahlia. Fortunately, we have not had last year’s windy weather, when we were constantly having to support the long canes. Instead, Ross has been attaching the long side-runners to the top of the new pergola. It’s a tricky job, as he is using recycled timber of different lengths and has had to mortise beams together to achieve the full 5m length. He has done a wonderful job! All those years of building cattle yards and fencing have stood him in good stead!
It was an interesting and challenging design, involving many small pieces of felt and lots of decision-making about thread colour and embroidery stitch type, so as not to detract from the original design. I have also started some embroidered calico patches depicting Australian animals, which I will later attach to a cushion cover. I will show you some photos next month, when I have done a few more! It’s time-consuming, but fun! Luckily, the Easter break is coming up!!! Happy Easter!!!
The Easter break can be a busy time, both for visiting or hosting visitors, so I thought a post on Easter baking would be useful with the holiday period fast approaching. I am going to share some old favourites with you : Mardi’s Date Loaf; Dutch Ginger Cake; Mrs. Wilson’s Walnut Cake and Speculaas, as well as some new favourites: Date and Ginger Cake; Easter Biscuits and finally, Annabel’s Ginger and Apricot Biscuit Slice.
Mardi’s Date Loaf
This was Ross’s mother’s recipe and I used it for many years. In fact, it was the mainstay (along with Anzac Biscuits) for Ross’s natural history tours, when Ross would make his guests afternoon tea out in the bush. He often had international visitors and whenever I make this recipe, I am reminded of a pair of German girls, who were initially very suspicious of this loaf, but after the first few tentative nibbles, went on to demolish the lot very quickly over their cuppa!!!Set the oven temperature to 180 degrees Celsius and line a loaf tin with Gladbake.Bring to the boil in a saucepan : 1 cup chopped pitted dates, 1 cup sugar, 1 tbsp butter and 1 cup boiling water. Take off the stove and immediately add 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda, which will cause the mixture to fizz! Allow to cool.Add 1 well-beaten egg. Mix in 2 cups sifted self-raising flour and 1/2 cup chopped walnuts.Spoon into loaf tin and cook in the oven for 45 minutes. Make sure it doesn’t overcook or get too dry. Delicious with butter, but equally tasty on its own!Dutch Ginger Cake
I think this one came from the good old Women’s Weekly recipe book years ago and it fast became a firm favourite, not just because it is quick and easy to make (apart from the baking time that is!), requiring no mixmaster or beaters, but also because it’s really DELICIOUS and dangerously more-ish! But BE WARNED! Consumption of more than two wedges at one sitting is definitely NOT RECOMMENDED!!! It is very rich (it’s all that butter!), but even though I have tried to reduce the butter amount, it’s best with the full ration! I use the glace ginger in its own syrup, sold by Buderim Ginger. Do not use crystallized ginger. I often used to make both Date Loaf and Ginger Cake at the same time, because they both take 45 minutes to bake. Their flavours also complement each other well.Set the oven to 180 degrees Celsius and line a 20 cm round cake tin with Gladbake.Melt 125 g butter. Sift 1.75 cups plain flour. Add 1 cup castor sugar and 125g chopped glace ginger.Mix in melted butter and 1 well-beaten egg. Spoon mixture into cake tin. Glaze with milk and 30 g flaked almonds.Bake in the oven for 45 minutes. Do not expect the cake to rise too much. It’s more of a flat shortbread. Cut into thin wedges!Date, Honey and Ginger Cake
Since we love both the recipes above, as well as honey (my husband being the human reincarnation of Pooh Bear!), I was keen to try out Matthew Evans’ recipe from his lovely book : ‘Winter on the Farm’ . It’s a beauty and is on a par with the faithful old Date Loaf in my affections!Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius. Line a 24cm square cake tin with Gladbake.Boil 1 cup water in a saucepan, add 150g chopped pitted dates and 1/2 tspbicarbonate of soda, then remove from the heat and set aside.Beat 250g softened butter with 250g castor sugar and 350g (1 cup) honey with electric beaters until light and fluffy, then add 3 eggs, one at a time.Fold in 450g sifted plain flour, 1/2 tsp salt, another 1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda, 2 tsp ground ginger, 2 tsp mixed spice, 1 tsp cinnamon and 150g (1.5 cups) lightly chopped walnuts.Drain the dates, saving the liquid, and fold dates into the batter. Add enough water to the saved date liquid to make up a cup (250 ml) and add to the batter. Stir well till combined.Pour mixture into a tin and bake for 1 hour or until a skewer comes out clean. Cool in the tin for 20 mins , then turn out onto a wire rack to finish cooling.Mrs. Wilson’s Walnut Cake
Mrs. Wilson was a teacher at my children’s primary school and she brought this divine cake along to a parent-teacher evening one year. For even more exotic flavours, hazelnuts and lime juice can be substituted for the walnuts and lemon juice. Both forms are delicious and make a lovely moist cake.Preheat the oven to 160-180 degrees Celsius and line a 20cm springform cake tin with Gladbake.
Toast and finely blend 200g walnuts or hazelnuts.Cream 125g butter and 150g castor sugar. Add 1 egg and beat till light and fluffy. Stir in 3 tsp grated lemon rind or lime rind and 2 tbsp brandy.Sift 50g plain flour and 50g self-raising flour together and fold into the mixture gently with the nuts. Spoon mixture into tin. Bake in the oven for 1 hour.
Make a hot syrup from 60ml lemon or lime juice and 55g castor sugar and pour over the cooked warm cake.Cover with foil and cool slowly to room temperature. Keep in the fridge.
Serve dusted with icing sugar. I often use a stencil to create a pretty pattern on top.
Now for the biscuits! Both the Speculaas and the Easter Biscuit recipes come from a lovely book called ‘Festivals, Family and Food’ by Diana Carey and Judy Large.
Traditionally baked for consumption on St Nicholas’ Feast in the Netherlands (Dec 5), Belgium (Dec 6) and around Christmas in Germany, the true speculaas are made in wooden moulds, decorating the thin spicy wafers with images of Christmas. I use cookie cutters in appropriate seasonal shapes instead. For example, sleighs, fir trees, Santa Claus and stars for Christmas; Wombats, kangaroos, kookaburras and other Australian animals for Australia Day or international visitors; And rabbits, eggs, flowers and hearts for Easter. I have a big tin of cookie cutters from my children’s childhood and still find it hard to resist purchasing new shapes when I see them! Even though these biscuits take a while to make, I still often make them before a big car trip, because it’s a generous recipe, making a large number of biscuits, which last well (apart from gobbling them up!)
Preheat oven to 180 degrees Celsius.Cream 250g butter and 175g brown sugar, a pinch of salt and the grated rind of one lemon.Sift 250g plain flour, 1 tsp baking powder, 2tsp mixed spice and 2tsp cinnamon.Fold flour mixture into butter mixture and add 1dsp milk.Roll out thinly. I often use a sheet of Gladbake between the rolling pin and board to prevent sticking.Cut our shapes and place on a biscuit tin lined with Gladbake. Bake for 5-10 mins.Easter Biscuits
These are pretty little biscuits when cut with a fluted round cookie cutter and contrast well with the spicy brown Speculaas on the tea table.Preheat oven to 190-200 degrees Celsius.Rub 125g butter into 250g plain flour with your fingers.Add 125g castor sugar, a handful of currants, 1/2 tsp each of mixed spice and cinnamon and a squeeze of lemon juice.Mix in 1 beaten egg with 1 tbsp brandy and form a paste.Roll out thinly on a floured board. Here again, you can use a sheet of Gladbake between the rolling pin and board to prevent sticking.Using a fluted round cookie cutter, cut into rounds. Sprinkle with caster sugar if desired.Bake in oven for 10 minutes. Be careful to not burn or brown too much.Annabel’s Ginger and Apricot Biscuit Slice
Sourced from ‘Free Range in the City’ by Annabel Langbein, this is a very easy, no-bake slice with some of my favourite ingredients: dried apricots, ginger, pistachios and sweetened condensed milk! I always love a good excuse to open a can of condensed milk, especially when the recipe doesn’t use the whole tin. A teaspoonful of sweetened condensed milk cooled in the refrigerator is divine, although these days I am a lot more self-disciplined!!! I use Marie or Nice biscuits for the biscuit base and crush them to fine crumbs in a double plastic bag (ie : 2 plastic bags, so if one gets holey, you don’t lose the crumbs!) with a rolling pin.Line a 30cm x 24cm baking tin with Gladbake.Place 100g butter and 3/4 tin sweetened condensed milk in a pot and heat gently till the butter melts. Remove from heat. Crush 375g sweet biscuits.Mix 1 cup finely-chopped dried apricots, 1/2 cup finely-chopped crystallized ginger, 1 cup dessicated coconut, 1 tsp ground ginger, 2 tbsp lemon juice and finally, the crushed sweet biscuits.Add butter and condensed milk mixture and stir to combine. Press biscuit base into the prepared tin and set in the refrigerator for 1 hour.Make Lemon Icing : Melt 50g butter and mix to a smooth consistency with 3 tbsp boiling water, 1 tsp lemon juice and 3.5 cups icing sugar.Spread icing over biscuit base and sprinkle with 1/4 cup chopped crystallized ginger and 2 tbsp chopped pistachios. When the icing is set, cut into slices and store in a cool place.
I hope you enjoy making and eating these cakes and biscuits and have a Happy and Safe Easter, especially if you are travelling on the roads! Here are some fun photos from Easters past!
Now to some famous old nurseries in Victoria, which are open all year round and sell a wide variety of plants. Next month, I will feature the smaller, more specialized nurseries. I am starting with a very famous name in the nursery world in Australia, that of Clive Blazely and The Diggers’ Club and their two properties : ‘Heronswood’ and ‘The Garden of St. Erth’, followed by ‘Cloudehill’, which opened a Diggers’ shop in 2014 and two of our current suppliers : Tesselaars and Lambley Nursery.
The Diggers’ Club was formed back in 1978, when Clive and Penny Blazely saw a need to preserve and promote heirloom vegetable and flower varieties, which were being dropped from the mainstream seed companies. The name : ‘Diggers’ refers to the 17th Century English diggers who grew food on public land to donate to the poor, as well as the goldrush diggers who rebelled at Eureka Stockade and of course, the Australian soldiers in World War I. Their first mail order catalogue listed 300 varieties of vegetable and flower seeds.In 1983, Clive and Penny bought ‘Heronswood’ on the Mornington Peninsula and developed a 2 hectare cottage garden based on heirloom varieties. They pioneered the use of drought-tolerant plants in 1988 and led the revival of heirloom vegetables in 1991. Slowly, the business grew. In 1996, they opened a thatched roof cafe ‘Fork to Fork’, as well as buying a 2nd Diggers property, The Garden of St. Erth. Unfortunately, the cafe burnt down in 2014, but ‘Heronswood’ now has its restaurant in the historic house itself.In 2007, the nursery, seed departments and office moved to a 20 acre site in Dromana and in 2011, Clive and Penny gifted ownership of the entire operation : Diggers’ Club, Heronswood and The Garden of St. Erth to the Diggers Garden and Environmental Trust, to ensure that all their work over the last 30 years would be continued forever. The trust is involved with research, education and the preservation and conservation of botanical and ecological habitats, historic houses and gardens and heirloom seeds, as well as the promotion of the use of horticulture for dietary wellbeing and health. In amongst all this, Clive has also written 7 books on flower, vegetable and fruit gardening!
In 2011, they also opened their 3rd Diggers shop in Adelaide Botanic Garden, their 4th shop at Cloudehill in April 2014 and their 5th shop at Heritage Nursery, Yarralumla, Canberra, in November 2015. We are particularly happy about this latest development, as Heritage Nursery (http://heritagenursery.com.au/) is one of our favourite nurseries in Canberra and we will now seriously consider rejoining Diggers’ membership, not just for their wonderful heirloom seed range, including their Sun and Moon watermelon seeds, but also the fact that as Diggers members, we get a 10 percent reduction on the price of any future plant purchases from Heritage Nursery!
Diggers’ Club is now the largest garden club in Australia with the biggest range in heirloom seeds and plants. Membership costs $49 per year, with the cost reducing if you sign up for longer. Membership benefits include :
7 Seasonal magazines with lots of gardening advice, including a bumper seed annual for vegetables, flowers and herbs.
Discounted prices on shop products, including collections of plants, seeds and bulbs and books.
Member-exclusive products of rare and extra special plants, seeds and bulbs.
Free entry to the Heronswood, The Garden of St. Erth and Cloudehill.
Free gardening advice from Diggers’ experts.
Free seed offers in Autumn and late Spring, as well as 2 year memberships.
Their current emphasis is on preserving the best plants and gardening traditions for Australian conditions. They are strong vocal advocates against climate change and genetically-modified seeds and food, as well as speaking out against industrial agriculture and the corporatization of our food supply. They are also heavily involved in education from tours of their gardens to seasonal festivals, monthly workshops and special events led by gardening experts. Their wealth of garden expertise listed in https://www.diggers.com.au/about-us/experts/ reads like a ‘Who’s Who’ of the gardening world in Australia and I recognized a number of names : Andrew Laidlaw from Burley, Tino Carnevale from ABC TV’s Gardening Australia, Indira Naidoo (Ex-SBS news reader and author of ‘The Edible City’), Penny Woodward, writer of herbal books and Robyn Francis of permaculture fame, to name but a few.
Diggers’ website is a mine of gardening information. Their ‘What’s On’ tab includes :
What’s In Season
Garden festivals and gardens to visit
Workshop Events and Master Classes
Little Diggers for Junior Green Thumbs and even
Recipes from the Diggers chefs.
There is also a Plant Finder, which helps you to compile a list of plants, which will grow well in your climatic zone, based on postcode, and which can be narrowed down according to variables like plant height and colour, position and water and flowering, fruiting and sowing times. They also have a number of gardening fact sheets and video tutorials on: Composting; Sowing seeds and planting strawberry runners or garlic; Summer pruning; Growing beans and Espaliering fruit trees. These are all freely available, whether you are members or not. A visit to both their gardens is well worthwhile.
Heronswood Gardens, Nursery and Restaurant
105 Latrobe Parade Dromana Victoria 3936
Open 7 days 9am-5pm. Closed 24-26 December and Good Friday
$10 visitors; Free for Diggers’ members and children under 16 years old; Shop: free entry
The house is now home to Heronswood Restaurant, whose meals are all based on fresh produce, local wines and organic vegetables from their gardens.Heronswood Garden was the first garden in Australia to be certified organic. There are 5 separate vegetable gardens with the best heirloom vegetables for Australian conditions. as well as extensive plantings of flowers in perennial borders, dry climate and cottage gardens and annual gardens. One of Diggers’ trademarks is the integration of vegetables and flowers with fruit trees and herbs. The garden showcases the best flowers and plants for Australian conditions. Different plants provide highlights throughout the year, culminating in a peak in Summer with the Summer perennials and heirloom vegetables.The garden shop sells a wide range of plants : cottage flowers; edible plants; flowering shrubs and cool-climate trees, as well as Diggers heirloom seeds. Current monthly workshops at ‘Heronswood’ include : ‘Summer Fruit Tree Pruning’; ‘Floral Arrangements’ and ‘Growing Your Own Garlic’.
The Garden of St. Erth
189 Simmons Reef Rd. Blackwood Victoria 3458
Open 7 days a week, except 24-26 December; Good Friday and Code Red or Extreme Fire Warning Days. 9am-5pm $10 for visitors; Free for Diggers’ members and children under 16 years old; No charge to visit the shop or restaurant.
In 1854, Matthew Rogers, a Cornish stonemason, left Sydney for the goldfields of Mt. Blackwood, now the village of Blackwood and named after the plentiful Blackwood wattles in the area. Back then, Mt. Blackwood was a bustling town of 13, 000 people and was surrounded by the townships of Red Hill, Golden Point, Barry’s Reef and Simmons’ Reef. In the early 1860s, Matthew built a sandstone cottage, which he called after his birth place in Cornwall. He attached a wooden extension to the western side of the cottage, where he ran a post office and store, as well as the boot factory behind the cottage. As the gold ran out, all the surrounding wooden cottages were moved to Trentham, the sandstone cottage became empty and the bush moved back in, until the land was bought by a group of Melbourne business men called the Simmons Reef Shire Council.The Garden of St. Erth was developed by Tommy Garnett, a former Geelong Grammar Headmaster and horticultural writer and plant enthusiast. He would have had to have been the latter, as back in the 1970s, the soil was very poor due to the heavy gold mining activities of the 1880s. Basically, it was mining rubble! Tommy persisted and established a 2 hectare (6 acres) garden with many rare and unusual plants. He sold to the Diggers’ Club in 1996.The current gardens were designed around the sandstone cottage, which is the entrance to the garden and houses the Diggers’ shop. The colour of the perennial borders complements the golden colour of the sandstone. Heaps of compost were added to improve the soil and intensive French horticultural practices applied to get the maximum productivity out of the small plots of land. Julian Blackhirst is now the Head Gardener.It is a wonderful place to visit with lots of inspirational ideas. There are over 3000 plant varieties, grown in a variety of garden areas, including :
Herbaceous borders of long flowering Summer Perennials and ornamental grasses.
Mature trees including a Monterey Pine from gold mining days. Autumn colour.
Dry Climate gardens with drought-tolerant plants like Achillea, Bergamot, Russian Sage and a variety of Flowering Salvias.
Kitchen Garden containing heirloom vegetables like Tuscan Kale and purple carrots, which are used in the garden cafe.
Food Forest, based on permaculture principles, under a canopy of walnuts, hazelnuts and olives. I love their idea of growing Rattlesnake beans up the stems of corn with cucumbers underneath!
Espaliered pears and apples of over 200 varieties next to the old 1930s orchard at the back of the garden.
Berry arbours grown with sage and rhubarb and finally…
Daffodil paddock, a wonderful sight in Spring!
Again, the emphasis is on educating the public about sustainable gardening and what is possible in the Australian climate. Workshops include courses on growing garlic or herbs and pest-repellent plants; companion planting and crop rotation; and bee-keeping for beginners or urban dwellers. Like Heronswood, there are also garden tours during the week.
89 Olinda-Monbulk Rd. Olinda Victoria 3788
Open 7 days a week except 24-26 Dec and Good Friday 9am-5pm
$10 for adults; Children and Diggers’ members free
Cloudehill is situated on the easterly slope of the Dandenongs at a height of 580m above sea level. It receives 1.25 m rainfall per year, falling in most months, though February to April are the driest months. There is little frost, but it does snow occasionally. The big advantage, compared to the last garden, is its soil, which is deep volcanic loam.
Cloudehill started as a working farm back in the 1890s. George Woolwich cleared the 10 acres of old growth Eucalyptus regnans in 1895 to grow cherry trees and raspberry canes. At the end of the First World War, his elder son Ted built a cottage with Art Deco features and started a nursery on the bottom half of the land. In the 1920s, George’s younger son Jim grew wholesale flowers and foliage for the Melbourne florist market on the upper half. The two brothers bought neighbouring blocks of land and at one stage had 70 acres of land under cultivation. During the 1920s, they also imported plants from all over the world: Beech trees for foliage from England; Kurume Azaleas from the USA and beautiful Maples (1928) from Japan.Ted’s Rangeview Nursery and Jim’s flower farm were very popular between 1930 -1950, but both closed down in the late 1960s. The nursery was sold on as a building block and the nursery plantings converted to a garden by Keith Purves. It is now owned by Mary and Ches Mason and run as a Bed&Breakfast establishment called Woolwich Retreat and Rangeview Gardens.In 1991, Jim died and in 1992, Cloudehill was bought by the current owner Jeremy Francis. He inherited the old 1920s Beech trees, rhododendron hedges, deciduous azaleas and meadows naturalized with bulbs from the 1930s, a good start for a garden. Inspired by the Renaissance gardens of Europe and the English Arts & Crafts gardens, Jeremy developed a wonderful garden and his gardening journey is documented in his book : ‘Cloudehill : A Year in the Garden’ with beautiful photography by Claire Takacs. It is also worth receiving his newsletter. The layout can be seen in the photograph of the official brochure above.Cloudehill has 20 garden compartments, including :
Diggers Shop and Bambouserie with a collection of cool-climate bamboos
Restaurant Walk : the menu of Seasons Restaurant is dictated by the vegetable garden
Commedia dell’arte Lawn with South African bulbs flowering in Spring and Summer
Water Garden with hornbeam hedges, oak leaf hydrangeas and ornamental grasses
The Maple Court with the old maples imported from the Yokohama Trading Nursery, Japan, back in 1928
Warm Border – bright red, orange and gold mixed herbaceous plants flowering from November through to Early March
Cool Border-pastel flowers from Late Spring to Early Autumn
Summer House Garden including English Beech trees from 1928
Quadrangle Lawn with scuptures, topiary and Japanese Botan Tree Peonies
Marquee Lawn for weddings and receptions with a huge old ‘picking’rhododendron
Gallery Walk with art and sculptures, more tree peonies, mixed shrubs and Scotch Briar roses
The Peony Pavilion with hostas, Beech and American Lutea hybrid Tree Peonies
Shade Borders- American Tulip tree, conifers and yews and hydrangeas and camellias
Theatre Lawn, perfect for hosting Shakespearean plays performed by OzAct in the Summer Twilight evenings and backed by a mixed beech hedge of Green and Copper Beeches, planted in 1950s for foliage
Azalea Steps : Deciduous azaleas, Beech and Kalmia
Seasons Glade : Witch Hazels, maples and tree ferns surrounding a beautiful sculpture called ‘The Seasons’ by Leopoldine Mimovich (see 2 photos below)
Upper Meadow full of naturalized daffodils, bluebells, grape hyacinth in Spring and South African bulbs through the Summer
Beech Walk : Copper Beech planted for foliage production in the 1960s and underplanted with bluebells
Lower Meadow: more long- established bulbs and meadow grass, leading to the entrance to ‘Rangeview’ with a huge Magnolia denudata over the entrance. I love Madeline Meyer’s whimsical glazed terracotta figures (see photo below)
We loved our visits to Cloudehill and managed to see it in all seasons. The bones of the garden are very visible in Winter, when cyclamen and hellebores dot the ground and rhododendrons and magnolias towards Spring. The Spring bulbs are spectacular, as are the tree peonies and lilacs in October and the peonies, rhododendrons and peonies in early November. Diggers’ Garden Festival is held in Spring. I love the Warm and Cool Borders in Summer- such colour and abundance! And then, it’s Autumn with all the wonderful colour of Fall.We never got to see the new Diggers’ shop, started in April 2014, but it offers all the same things as at its other stores : heirloom seeds; cottage flowers; edible plants; flowering shrubs and cool-climate trees; books; garden tours and more workshops in crop rotation and companion planting; permaculture; worm farming; composting; backyard chook keeping; pests and diseases; cider making; growing blueberries, herbs, bulbs and Spring wildflowers; pruning and training berries; and growing hedges and topiary.
357 Monbulk Rd. Silvan Victoria 3795
Office Monday-Friday 8.30am-5pm; Plant shop Monday-Friday 8am-4.30pm, weekend and public holidays 10am-4pm; Closed mid December to late January.
Tesselaars is not far from Cloudehill and is another very big player in the nursery and floristry industry in Australia. It was started by a young Dutch couple, Cees and Johanna Tesselaar, who left Holland on their wedding day to settle in Australia in June 1939, just before the outbreak of the Second World War. They first settled in Ferntree Gully and in 1945, they bought a 6 hectare farm at Silvan, which they called Padua Bulb Nurseries. Their first crops were tulips and gladioli.The business grew into Australia’s largest family-owned floricultural operation and is now run by the eldest son Kees and involves 3 generations of the family. Indeed, many of the employees are also successive generations of their families, so there is a strong family tradition at Tesselaars. They also have specialist network subsidiaries and associated companies in Victoria, New South Wales, Queensland and Western Australia with 140 growers throughout Australia.Tesselaars not only grows and markets bulbs, but also plants, perennials and cut flowers. The bulbs are mostly field-grown and are distributed to other wholesalers, prepackaged in large amounts for major Australian distributors, as well as being sold by mail-order. They are the largest bulb and perennial mail order company in Australia and have a loyal customer base, including me! I have always bought by bulbs from Tesselaars ever since I had my first garden back in the early 1980s. They also provide excellent notes on growing bulbs, as well as other plants, with your order. There is also lots of information on their website (see their tab : Gardening Resources).Most of the cut flowers are grown under cover. Tesselaars pioneered the use of plastic houses in Australia back in the 1960s. They now have 6 hectares under cover, including the latest automatic and elevated plastic houses, and the most fuel-efficient computerized systems in the world, growing high quality flower crops year round. Flowers are air- freighted and delivered direct to florist shops via the Tesselaar network. They are very commited to the industry and the adoption of new technologies, techniques and plant varieties from all over the world. They are also heavily involved with the both the Nursery Industry Association of Victoria and the Flower Growers Association of Victoria.They hold a number of festivals, especially in Spring. The Tesselaars Tulip Festival was first held in 1954 and is now in its 62nd year. It will be held every day from 10am-5pm from 8th September to the 4th October 2016. Tickets cost $24 per adult and $20 for concession. The entrance fee goes to Red Cross and other local charities. Children are free. Visitors will be able to see more than half a million Tulips, spread over 25 acres – a veritable sea of colour! There are more than 120 varieties of Tulip on display, as well as market stalls, costumes, live entertainment and food. Within the Tulip Festival are a number of special events:
Turkish Weekend 11-13 Sep
Yarra Ranges Week 14-17 Sep
Dutch Weekend 18-20 Sep
Children’s Week 21-24 Sep; 28 Sep-1st Oct
Food, Wine and Jazz Weekend 25-27 Sep
Irish Weekend 2-4 Oct
We enjoyed our visit to the Turkish Weekend in 2007. Tulips originated in Turkey and there is a really interesting book called ‘Tulipomania’ by Mike Dash, which documents their fascinating history and their rise to become the world’s most coveted flower in 16th century Holland. It is well worth chasing up a copy! We thoroughly enjoyed all the market stalls; the Turkish cuisine and Turkish coffee; the Turkish folk dancing, belly dancing and music; the exotic textiles and fashions; and the beautiful marbling and calligraphy. It was great to learn so much about Turkish culture and heritage, as well as explore all the gardens and wonderful bulb displays. There is even a sculpture competition with a People’s Prize.In April (2-3 Apr 2016), there is also a Gardening and Plants Expo, involving more than 40 nurseries and plant growers, with many interesting and unusual plants for sale, as well as talks and demonstrations by some of Australia’s best gardening experts, including David Glenn from Lambley Nursery, which leads very neatly into a discussion of my last garden.
‘Burnside’ 395 Lesters Rd Ascot Victoria 3364
Open 7 days a week 9am-5pm, except Christmas day. Free entrance to the garden and shop
http://www.crisscanning.com.au/Lambley Nursery is owned by David Glenn and his artist-wife Criss Canning and is set round an old bluestone farmhouse in the Central Victorian goldfields, just north-west of Ballarat. It’s a tough climate for growing plants with temperatures ranging from -8 degrees Celsius in Winter to 47 degrees Celsius in Summer and very low rainfall, so they have become experts in dry climate and sustainable gardening.David comes from a long line of gardeners. He was born and raised in Lambley, Nottinghamshire, England (hence the name of the nursery), where his father was a jobbing gardener and one of his uncles a Superintendent of Parks and Gardens, while another uncle ran a nursery. David moved to Australia when he was 21 years old and worked for a number of nurseries in Qld, NSW and Victoria , as well as working as a gardener in Melbourne. He then ran a wholesale plant nursery at Olinda, where he met his future wife Criss in 1989. Three years later, they moved to the 15 hectare property at Ascot. Criss designed the garden around the 19th century house and with her artists eye is responsible for coordinating all the colours, while David reestablished his nursery and does all the mowing, weeding, planting and pruning. He propagates all his own plants from mother stock grown in the garden or trial beds. Many plants are sourced internationally and propagated after exiting their on-site quarantine facility.The big emphasis at Lambleys is on plant selection to suit the climate and the future effects of global warming. Plants are sourced from Mexico, California, Arizona, South Africa, Australia, Central Asia and Turkey, the Canary islands and Southern Europe. All his plants are frost-hardy. The Central Highlands of Victoria experience their first frost in mid-April and their last frost in mid-November.
His other big emphasis is on soil preparation. David cultivates deeply to 15cm with a rotary hoe, then adds 4-5 inches compost, lime and then mulch- a thin layer (2.5 cm) of composted pine bark around each plant. This Forestry waste product is slightly acid, which perennials love, and is similar to Amgrow’s Biogrow Soil Conditioner.
The Dry Garden display beds are so impressive. Not only are the perennial plantings beautiful with interesting forms, colours and textures, but they are tough and are watered by hand only 3 times a year! The soft grey-blue theme provides harmony. Geraniums, salvias, ixias, lavenders, phlomis, euphorbias, eryngium, acanthus and ornamental grasses grow beneath the shade of olive trees.There is also an extensive organic vegetable garden, which feeds 4 generations of the family, and trial beds of vegetable and flowers seeds to determine which varieties are best suited to the climate. Cut flowers include poppies, peony poppies, sweet peas, delphiniums, yarrow, foxgloves, rose campion, lilies and a variety of bulbs.David sells his plants in 10cm pots direct to the public on site and by mail order. He sends out beautiful glossy catalogues of Early flowering Bulbs and Perennials; Winter/ Spring Bulbs and Perennials and a massive seed catalogue for vegetables, herbs and flowers. He also produces a newsletter for exclusive access to rare and new plants; David Glenn’s Garden Notes, which covers a diverse range of topics including self-sown annuals, garden harmony, Arums, the Flora of Turkey and even recipes. He has also produced instructional DVDs titled : ‘Dry Climate Gardening’ (4 DVDs covering each season); ‘Home Grown : An Australian Vegetable garden’; and ‘The Art of Preserving’.
The shop also sells Criss Canning’s beautiful Art cards, as well as her book ‘The Pursuit of Beauty‘, which is now in its 3rd edition and presents many of her paintings from her 2013 exhibition. She is an amazingly talented still life painter, who is often compared to Margaret Olley, in her approach to flowers, ceramics and textiles. She has paintings in the National Gallery of Australia, the Art Gallery of NSW, the State galleries in Ballarat, Castlemaine and Cairns, as well as Art Bank and private collections in France, Hong Kong, Singapore and Australia. Her work can be seen at the Philip Bacon Galleries.
The feature plants in March, Macrozamias and Pittosporum, are a slight departure from my usual garden plant posts, but I wanted to include a few native species and we are growing both a Macrozamia and a Pittosporum in our garden. We also consider Mimosa Rock National Park to be an extension of our garden! Plus, this is the time when both plant species are prominent in the forest with their eye-catching bright red seeds.
It’s March and it’s Harvest Time in the bush! The native animals in the forest are having a field day sourcing all their favourite berries. Mimosa Rocks National Park has some beautiful forests of Spotted Gum (Corymbia maculata), whose understorey is full of Macrozamias and Pittosporum. They are both very different in structure, reproduction, lineage, growth rates and toxicity. I shall be focusing on Macrozamia communis, Pittosporum undulatum and Pittosporum revolutum.
Commonly known as Burrawangs, the name given to them by the Dharuk Aborigines of the Illawarra and Sydney regions. The Dhurga aborigines of the South Coast called it : ‘Bung-go ib-bur’, meaning ‘nut’.
Its scientific name is derived from 2 Greek words : ‘macros’ meaning ‘large’ and zamia, referring to its genus, while its species name comes from the Latin word ‘communis’ meaning ‘common’, as these plants are abundant in dense stands.
Endemic to the East coast of NSW, it is the most common cycad, with the mostextensive distribution of any cycad in NSW , ranging from Taree on the Central Coast to the Bega area, 600 km to the south.
They grow in coastal areas, as well as the coastal slopes of the Great Dividing Range (and occasionally the inland slopes) as far west as Mudgee.
It is the most southerly occurring cycad in the world and is most abundant on the South Coast of NSW, where it has the greatest overall size, cone size and population density. Near Bateman’s Bay, the stands are so extensive and dense that the ground is often obscured, though many have been cleared for urban development.
No other cycad in NSW, or indeed Australia, has such a great population density as Macrozamia communis.
Macrozamia communis is an understorey plant in wet and dry schlerophyll forests.
On the South Coast of NSW, it is the dominant understorey plant in Spotted Gum (Corymbia maculata) forests, while on the Central Coast, it grows under forests of Sydney Red Gum (Angophora costata), also known as Smooth-barked Apple. It also grows under Bangalay Gums (Eucalyptus botryoides) at Aragunnu.
In coastal areas, it grows on sandy soils, with its population density being greatest on stabilized sand dunes, close to the ocean, while on the coastal ranges, it grows on gravelly loams.
History : Macrozamias are fascinating plants.They are cycads, a small group of plants with unique features and a very ancient lineage.
First appearing in the fossil record in the Late Permian, 250 Million years ago before the Age of Dinosaurs, they quickly spread to every continent and latitude from Siberia to the Antarctic throughout the Mesozoic Era.
The Jurassic period of the Mesozoic Era is in fact known as ‘the Age of Cycads’, when cycads and gingkos were the dominant plants and there are 19 extinct genera of cycads from that time.
Now, there are only 3 families left with 11 genera and 250 species, compared to the 300,000 species of Angiosperms (or Flowering Plants).
Once classified as Gymnosperm along with conifers and gingkos, cycads are now considered to be a sister group to all other living seed groups.
They are found in tropical and subtropical regions of the world and each genus has a restricted geographical range, often being limited to specialized or localized sites like areas with nutritionally deficient soil, limestone or serpentine outcrops, beach dune deposits and very steep slopes.
Macrozamias are endemic to Australia and have 25-32 species, depending on your source! They belong to the Family : Zamiaceae, which has 8 genera including : Dioon, Encephalartus, Macrozamia, Lepidozamia, Ceraiozamia, Microcycas, Zamia and Chigua.
Unique Features of Cycads:
Pachycaul stem– its soft thick trunk is mainly storage tissue with very little true wood;
Collaroid roots with symbiotic relationship with cyanobacteria, not seen in other seed plants;
Large divided fern-like/ palm-like leaves with no axillary buds, like other seed plants;
Reproduce by seeds produced on open carophylls (seed-bearing leaves or scales), arranged in cones;
Cycads are dioecious– the male and female reproductive structures are on separate male and female plants;
Cycads have also been exploited as a food source for a long time, but require extensive processing to remove toxins, the methods differing between areas and over time.
Description: Macrozamia communis : Medium to large cycad with a height and spread of 3m. They are very slow growing and long-lived – up to 120 years. They take 10-20 years to mature and produce cones. Roots : Like all cycads, the roots are contractile: the sensitive growing apex of seedling is drawn below the soil surface, providing protection against drought and fires. The roots are also collaroid : the upper root rises above the ground and contains cyanobacteria, which fix atmospheric nitrogen for the cycads, in return for a stable source of fixed carbon in the form of carbohydrates produced by photosynthesis and protection from harsh environmental conditions and grazing. While cyanobacteria are capable of producing their own fixed carbon, cycad roots reach deeper into the soil and can spread over far larger areas. Nitrogen is essential for the production of genetic material and the structural and enzymatic molecules in all stages of the life cycle and is especially important in the nutritionally deficient soils of many cycads. Stem : Only producing a single trunk with no suckers, the trunk is 30-80 cm diameter and 30-200cm tall and is typically underground, though plants on shallow soils or rocky quartzite or sandstone ridges often have a short columnar trunk.
Leaves : 50-100 glossy dark green, pinnately compound leaves up to 2m long, which form a gracefully arching crown extending from a central trunk. Each leaf has 70-130 pointed leaflets (pinnae) in 2 rows and they decrease in size to sharp spines at the end of the leaf.
Reproduction: Cycads are dioecious and do not produce flowers. Male and female reproductive organs are borne on separate plants, the seeds on scales arranged in large cones (strobili) like conifers. The cones are often formed after fire. The male plant bears 1-5 cylindrical erect cones, which droop after their pollen is shed. The female plant bears 1-3 wider barrel-shaped cones, which are pollinated by Macrozamia Weevils (Tranus internatus) and mature in March, when they break apart to release 100-150 bright red-orange seeds throughout Winter. The seeds have no dormancy, so are very short-lived and subject to damage by dessication (drying-out). They are dispersed by Brush-tailed Possums (Trichosurus vulpecula), who break the cones apart to eat the fleshy outer coat of the seeds without damaging the stony inner layer, so the embryo remains viable and germinates readily after dispersal. The major predator of the seeds is the Native Bush Rat (Rattus fuscipes), who gnaws through the stony layer to eat the seed contents, including the embryo.
Food source : The seeds have a high starch content and containing macrozamin, which is toxic to humans and livestock. It requires extensive processing to remove the toxins. The Cadigal aborigines pounded and soaked the seeds in water for a week, changing the water daily, while others soaked the seed in running stream water for several days. The pulp was then made into cakes and roasted over hot embers.
Tools were made from the strongly barbed leaf shafts.
Horticulture : Highly ornamental, cycads have been in cultivation for many years. There are planted in many different ways :
: Single specimen
: Paired either side of entrances : doors, gates, driveways, like in Asia.
: In a rockery or in a tropical or desert setting, where a large crown is desired without the tall trunk of a palm.
Mass Plantings : ground cover
Containers : small gardens; patios and verandahs; bonsai specimens
Easy to cultivate and hardy, M. communis is suited to temperate and subtropical regions and can survive temperatures as low as -8 degrees Celsius. Hardiness Zone : 8b-11
They tolerate a wide range of soils, but do best in deep sandy soils, and prefer partial shade, but will adapt to full sun, so long as they get adequate water. These tough plants are drought-tolerant and suitable for xeriscaping. They are also fire-retardant. Good drainage is ESSENTIAL.
They grow best with a uniform and regular supply of water during the growing season and a good nutrient supply : fertilizer with an even NPK balance. eg: a regular dressing of slow release Osmocote.
They transplant readily, but as their growth is so slow, it is probably unnecessary. If transplanting, do it in late Spring and be careful of the sharp spines.
Potted Cycads require bright light and plenty of fresh air and normal room temperature (10-27 degrees Celsius). Use soil-based potting mix with broken pottery shards in the base of the pot for good drainage and stand pots on trays of moist pebbles to get the correct humidity. Keep the soil moist, but not wet, with extra watering when the temperature is above 27 degrees Celsius and mist spray foliage occasionally. A fortnightly dressing of complete fertilizer can be applied throughout the growing season.
: Seeds : Germinates easily without pre-treatment. Plant seed in well-drained potting soil in a shaded location and water regularly till germination in 6-24 months. Early seedling growth is very slow.
: Offsets : cut off parent plant with sharp knife, leaving as minimal a wound as possible. Treat wound with fungicide (eg sulphur), dry for 1 week, then plant into sterile medium.
Pests and Diseases
: Mealy bugs : apply an insecticide twice during growing season
: Scale insects : occasionally infest the crown. Same treatment as above or use white oil
: Macrozamia weevil : causes sporadic deaths in wild populations
: The fleshy starch-rich stems are susceptible to fungal attack and stem rot.
Pittosporum undulatumName: Known by a number of names including : Sweet or Orange Pittosporum; Native Daphne; Australian Mock Orange; and Cheesewood, its scientific name is derived from the Greek words : ‘pitta’ meaning ‘pitch‘ and ‘sporos’ meaning ‘seed’, referring to the resinous sticky coating of the seeds; and the Latin word : ‘unda’, meaning ‘wave/ surge‘, referring to the wavy edge of the leaves.
Family : Pittosporaceae : includes Native Frangipani (Hymenosporum flavum); Bluebell Creeper (Billardiera heterophylla) and the genus Bursaria.
Genus : Pittosporum : A very large genus in Australia and warmer areas like Africa, Asia, Pacific Islands and New Zealand. There are 14 species in all states of Australia.
Distribution and Habitat:
Moist gullies in rainforests and wet schlerophyll forests, as well as sheltered situations in dry schlerophyll forests and woodlands.
Coast and subcoastal districts of Eastern Australia from SE and Central Qld to Eastern NSW, ACT and Eastern Victoria.
Naturalized in Tasmania and King Island; SE South Australia; SW Western Australia; Lord Howe and Norfolk Islands; as well as Southern Europe (France, Spain, Portugal); South Africa; St Helena; the Azores; India; China; Hawaii; Mexico; SW USA (California); Carribean and South America (Bolivia, Colombia and Chile).
Significant environmental weed and is on the Global Invasive Species Database.
Description : Large evergreen tree, usually 4-14m high with a 7m spread, creating dense shade underneath.
Bark : Coarse grey, while younger shoots are green to reddish-brown. Leaves: Smooth, glossy green (darker on top, paler underneath), elliptical or ovate leaves with pointed tips and entire distinctively wavy edges. They are arranged alternately on their stems or clustered at the tips of branches. Flowers : Small, creamy-white, highly fragrant, bell-shaped (tubular) flowers, borne in small terminal clusters of 4-5 flowers in Spring and Early Summer (November-January). Each flower has 5 petals, which are fused together at the base of the corolla and reflex backwards at the tips. They are pollinated by Lepidoptera (moths and butterflies). Berries : Hard globular or slightly flattened capsules, 1cm diameter, formed in Autumn and lasting several months. They produce their first seed at 5 years old. The capsules turn from green to yellow to orange, then tan when mature, when they split open to release 20-30 sticky, smooth, red-brown, angular seeds, which are very attractive to possums, frugivorous birds and even foxes, often sticking to fur, clothing and footwear. The seeds have short to medium longevity. They germinate in abundance after fire or soil disturbance.
This plant contains Saponins 152 and 154, which cause dopiness and are fairly toxic to humans, but are poorly absorbed by the body, so tend to pass through without any problems. However, stock should be kept away from infested areas. Saponins are also very toxic to fish and the aborigines used to put large amounts in streams and lakes to stupefy and kill the fish.
The opened seeds can be boiled up to produce a gum to smother Pitosporum seedlings in fragile areas.
The wood has been used in the manufacture of golf clubs.
Horticulture : Well established as a garden ornamental plant in Australia and California and also clipped into hedges and used as windbreaks. They are hardy, adaptable and quick growing. They like most acidic soils and extra moisture and prefers granite-derived soils. They can withstand extended dry periods once established and resist maritime exposure.
It is very invasive in bushland and easily colonizes moist gullies and disturbed soil in areas of urban development. It is most invasive in areas of high rainfall. It has very rapid growth and adapts to soil with higher nutrient levels more readily than other native species. With changes in fire regimes, it out-competes fire-adapted native species. It dominates other species through dense shading, competition and its superior adaptability to changes in soil nutrients. The berries are also very attractive to birds, so it can be dispersed widely and its spread is very difficult to control. Therefore, do NOT grow near bushland! This website has information about its management especially after fire :http://www.herbiguide.com.au/Descriptions/hg_Pittosporum.htm.Having said all that, we did plant a specimen (see above photo) in our town garden, as the scent of the flowers is superb and despite its feral status, I am still very fond of Sweet Pittosporum! But if you live near bushland, I have included some short notes on an alternative Pittosporum species, which is also very attractive at the moment and is a much safer bet!
Pittosporum revolutumName : Commonly known as Rough-Fruited or Yellow Pittosporum, its species name : ‘revolutum’ means ‘rolled backwards‘, as some leaves are at the edges.
Distribution and Habitat : Endemic to Australia, this species mainly grows in coastal areas, west to the Blue Mountains and Muswellbrook and from sea level to 1100m. It
grows in rainforest and wet schlerophyll forests in Queensland, New South Wales and Victoria and in dry schlerophyll forests in the south.
Description : Understorey shrub 1-3 metres high. Leaves : Glossy dark green, ovate or oblong to elliptic leaves with entire but rarely undulate margins and arranged alternately on the stem or clustered at the end of the branch. The young leaves and the lower surface of mature leaves have a dense to sparse covering of rusty hairs, especially around the main veins, giving a slightly furry feel to the undersides of the leaf. Flowers : Bears fragrant yellow flowers in terminal clusters in Spring. The petals reflex backwards and the sepals, inflorescence and ovary are all covered in rusty hairs. Berries :
• Slightly compound, amber or orange, ellipsoid or oval capsules with hard thick walls,which often have hairy and warty valves. They ripen in Autumn and break open to reveal numerous red-brown to bright scarlet, very sticky seeds, which are popular with birds.
Use : Was eaten by the aborigines, but has a slightly bitter taste.
Horticulture : Its use as an ornamental plant is now gaining in popularity. Outstanding plant, even in a small garden. It prefers shady areas under large trees.
I hope you enjoy this lovely watercolour painting, painted by my daughter specifically for my Bush Harvest post. They are very cute Native Bush Rats!