Landcare is a non-governmental community movement dedicated to preventing land degradation and achieving sustainable land management. It consists of a network of local volunteer groups of which there are over 1700 in New South Wales alone. Each group works to find local solutions to local problems such as salinity, soil degradation, animal pests, weeds, vegetation loss, waterside erosion, poor water quality, coastal degradation and urban land degradation. If you appreciate how lucky we are in the Helensburgh district to enjoy a relatively unspoiled bush environment you should also be aware that it is under serious threat. read more

Thursday, 23 August 2018

Be Weed Wise - Ochna

Ochna, Mickey Mouse plant (Ochna serrulata)

Ochna is another example of an ornamental species escaping into bushland. A native of Africa, it has been widely planted in Australian gardens for its strikingly attractive flowers. It is a significant environmental weed in south-east QLD, eastern areas of NSW and Lord Howe Island.

Ochna grows as a shrub that is erect and woody up to about 1.5 m high. Leaves are up to 5 cm long, narrow and glossy with serrated margins. New growth usually has a bronze tinge. Flowers are bright yellow.

The petals fall off, leaving the sepals which turn scarlet red when the fruits appear. Fruits are initially green, turning glossy black in summer. Root is an angled tap root that is easily broken when hand pulled, hence Ochna easily reshoots.

Ochna serrulata has invaded roadsides, disturbed sites, waste areas, rainforests, forest margins, riparian areas and dry sclerophyll forests. Seed is spread by water, animals (foxes and rabbits), birds and humans, in contaminated soil (earthmoving equipment, car tyres, etc.) and by dumping garden waste into bushland. Locally, Ochna is easily dispersed to new areas when birds eat the fruits and spread the seeds. It forms dense thickets that are hard to remove, and it competes with native plants.

For young seedlings hand pulling from down where the seedlings come out of the ground is generally the most successful method of control. Take care not to break the tap root. Larger individuals may need to be grubbed out with a mattock. Never put Ochna fruits or seeds in your green bin.

Glyphosate can be used to remove Ochna using the Scrape and Paint method. Scrape all the stems at the base with a sharp knife and apply undiluted Glyphosate. Wait for the plant to defoliate and remove above ground parts.

Grow Me Instead

Native Fuschia (Correa species and cultivars)
There are many attractive species and cultivars of
the native Correa. Most tolerate drought and poor soils, although some of the larger species such as Correa lawrenceana typically grow in moist situations. All have bell-shaped flowers which attract honeyeaters.

Guinea flower (Hibbertia species)
With masses of bright yellow flowers, and easy to grow, several species of Hibbertia, e.g. Hibbertia empetrifolia, are commonly available from nurseries. Like most Australian native plants, they require good drainage.

Pincushion Bush (Leucospermum species)
Several species and hybrids of these dramatic shrubs from southern Africa are available. They have flowers similar to the native Waratah, in shades of yellow, orange or red, which are produced in spring.

Tuesday, 7 August 2018

Be Weed Wise - Cape ivy

Cape ivy (Delairea odorata)

Cape ivy, a native of southern Africa, was once widely grown as a garden ornamental. However, it is now recognised as an environmental weed, especially along the east coast of Australia. It is also a problem in NZ, Hawaii and the USA.

Cape ivy is a climbing vine or creeping groundcover with slightly fleshy stems and leaves. The leaves are bright green, somewhat fleshy, and lobed so that they resemble ivy leaves. The stems are often purplish when young, and rather weak, eventually become woody when mature. The small yellow flower-heads are borne in dense clusters in the leaf forks or at the tips of the branches. Flowering occurs mainly during winter and spring.

Cape ivy can be highly invasive and suppresses native vegetation by carpeting the ground and climbing into the canopy. It prevents the growth and regeneration of native species

Cape ivy is spread by seed and vegetatively. Seed is dispersed by wind and water, and the stems can root at the nodes when in contact with soil creating another plant. Also, Cape ivy is often spread by the dumping of garden waste on bush land edges.

Hand weeding is the preferred method of removing Cape ivy. As it roots at the nodes, all material should be placed in your red bin. Control should be undertaken before seeds have matured. Vines in trees can be cut and left to die and disintegrate.

Grow Me Instead

Snake vine, Hibbertia scandens
This local vine has bright green leaves with large yellow flowers. This is a vigorous climber or scrambler which grows to 2 to 5m wide or high

Wonga wonga vine, Pandorana pandorea
This is a vigorous Australian native twining plant. A number of selected colour forms of this species have been brought into cultivation, the most common is 'Snowbells' with pure white flowers and 'Golden Showers' with yellow-bronze flowers.

Banksia rose Rosa banksiae ‘Lutea’
This climbing rose produces long slender twining canes with masses of tiny, double, yellow flowers in spring.

Saturday, 7 July 2018

Be Weed Wise - English Ivy

Ivy, English ivy (Hedera helix)

A native of northern Africa, Europe and western Asia, English ivy, a widely cultivated garden plant, is widely naturalised in Australia.  Ivy is a climber or creeper which forms aerial roots which attach to supporting structures. It spreads rapidly, blanketing the ground in a thick mat of vegetation. This excludes light, eventually choking out other species and preventing their germination. Ivy also grows thickly up over tall tress and shrubs, smothering them and even causing them to fall over under its weight.

Ivy has 3 lobed leaves, which are thin-textured and only slightly glossy, often with a slight whitish marbling. Leaves on flowering stems are larger, and are not lobed. It has inconspicuous greenish flowers in clusters, followed by black berries.

If you have ivy growing in your garden, please don’t let it grow up trees or fences, or anywhere high. Once it is up there, it flowers and the seeds are spread by birds into surrounding bushland (or even into your neighbours’ properties). The other way ivy spreads into bushland is through dumping of garden waste.

Removal: Hand-pull small plants and remove. Plants left lying on the ground will re-grow. For badly infested trees, cut away at least the bottom metre of ivy stems around the trunk and apply herbicide to both ends of the cut stems. Do not try to pull ivy down. Treat it and leave it to die in place.

Grow Me Instead

Wonga vine, Pandorea pandorana
This local native vine will cover a fence or trellis. It has cream flowers with brown or purple streaks, although yellow and white flowered cultivars are available.

Chinese star jasmine, Trachelospermum jasminoides
This evergreen vine from China has dark, glossy foliage and small, starry, white, spicy, nutmeg-scented flowers in summer. It is slow growing initially but later becomes vigorous. Variegated leaf forms are also available.

Rasp fern, Doodia aspera

It makes a good groundcover for a shady site, but will also tolerate full
sun and is one of the most drought-tolerant local native ferns.

Be Weed Wise - Japanese Sacred Bamboo

Japanese sacred bamboo (Nandina domestica)

Native to eastern Asia, Japanese sacred bamboo is considered an environmental weed in NSW. This species is currently of most concern in the wider Sydney and Blue Mountains region in central New South Wales. It is currently not very widespread or common, but its abundance and range is increasing. It is also an invasive weed in large parts of south-eastern USA where it is displacing native vegetation.

Sacred Bamboo is generally grown for its foliage which has colourful red and green leaves. Small, white flowers are followed by red berries in autumn. It was a popular planting around a certain takeaway at one time. Birds spread the berries into bushland, and that is when it becomes a problem. Many reports also suggest that the berries are toxic to a range of animals, including dogs, cats and cattle. It has been known to kill birds when they gorge on the berries.

Control: remove and bag the berries and place them in your red bin. The whole plant can then be dug out and placed in the green bin.

Grow Me Instead

Honey myrtle Melaleuca linariifolia ‘Little Red’ A dense compact shrub with small leaves and bright red new growth throughout the warmer months.

Dwarf willow peppermint Agonis flexuosa ‘Nana' is a highly attractive, compact, evergreen shrub that produces willow-like foliage with red new growth and small white flowers in Spring.

Dwarf sacred bamboo Nandina domestica ‘Nana’ There are a few cultivars available that do not produce seeds, and still provide the contrasting red foliage.