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

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.

Be Weed Wise - Ginger Lily

Ginger lily (Hedychium gardnerianum)

Ginger lily is native to the Himalayas. It is now naturalised in bushland areas on the east coast. Ginger lily is also very poisonous to grazing animals, and can be fatal if enough of the plant is ingested.

Ginger lily grows to 2m tall, with long strap like leaves and large spikes of perfumed flowers. This plant forms clumps with deep matted roots. It is found in moist places. Flowers are bright yellow, fragrant and appear in summer to autumn. It grows most abundantly in open, light-filled habitats, but can grow into deep shade. It forms vast, dense, colonies that smother and displace native groundcover vegetation.

Dispersal: Clumps spread rapidly from underground rhizomes. The seeds are readily dispersed by birds and other animals that are attracted to their bright colours.

Removal: Plants can be dug up or pulled out depending on size, but the entire plant, including pieces of rhizomes need to be removed to avoid regrowth. Seeds and rhizomes should be place in the red bin. Leaves and stems can be put in the green bin.

Grow Me Instead

Gymea lily - Doryanthes excelsa. This local native plant thrives in poor sandy soils and full sun or partial shade. The red trumpet-like flowers are borne in a terminal head 300 mm in diameter on a leafy flowering stem 2–4 m high.

Swamp lily - Crinum pedunculatum. This Australian native plant has rosettes of broad leaves and clusters of white, highly fragrant, flowers on 1m stems. Suits any soil, full sun or dappled shade and is mildly frost tolerant, it also grows well near ponds.

Day lilies - Hemerocallis species and hybrids. Day lilies have generous clumps of strappy leaves, and tall flower stems with double or single flowers in a wide range of colours.

Monday, 16 April 2018

Be Weed Wise - Easter Cassia

Easter cassia (Senna pendula var. glabrata)

Easter cassia is native to tropical South America and was widely cultivated as a garden ornamental. Unfortunately, it has become invasive in eastern parts of Australia especially along the coast.  It is a weed of waterways, gardens, disturbed sites, waste areas, roadsides, closed forests, forest margins and urban bushland. It is a fast growing plant that can suppress the growth of native species and displace them. It produces large amounts of long-lived seeds.

Easter cassia is an upright, spreading or sprawling shrub usually growing 2-4 m tall, but occasionally reaching up to 5 m in height.  

The compound leaves are arranged alternately along the stem, each leaf is composed of three to six pairs of dark green leaflets with rounded tips. The flowers are bright yellow (about 30 mm across) with five large petals (20-25 mm long) which are clustered at the end of the stems. 

Flowering occurs throughout the year, but is most prevalent during autumn (i.e. at Easter time). Flowers are followed by cylindrical pods (10-20 cm long and 6-12 mm wide) that hang downwards, and contain the brown/black seeds. Pods turn from green to pale brown in colour as they mature.

 Dispersal: Easter cassia is spread by seed, in garden waste, and sometimes by suckers.

Removal: Hand-pull small individual plants, particularly in moist soil. Remove roots and consider applying mulch to discourage regrowth. Dig out larger plants with mattock or similar garden tool. Seeds and seed pods should be place in your red bin, other parts are safe to place in your green bin.

Grow Me Instead

Golden honey myrtle, Melaleuca bracteata  ‘Revolution Gold’  This beautiful golden foliaged Australian native plant to 3m brings colour all year round. Requires free draining soil and a sunny position but will accept light shaded areas.

Heath banksia, Banksia ericifolia  Large orange flower heads , needle-like foliage and a dense growth habit make this a very useful banksia for the garden. It is bird attracting and flowers in autumn/winter. 

Pincushion bush, Leucospermum species  Several species and hybrids of these dramatic shrubs from southern Africa are available. 

Friday, 30 March 2018

Be Weed Wise - Madeira Vine

Madeira vine (Anredera cordifolia)

Madeira vine (also called lamb’s tail) is an invasive vine from South America. Originally it was introduced to Australia as an ornamental plant in gardens. It is no longer planted but people in older gardens could still have it growing over sheds or along fence-lines. It has become an environmental weed, locally and Australia-wide, blanketing and smothering both shrubs and trees. Once it is in flower it is very obvious throughout Helensburgh and surrounding areas. It is listed as a Weed of National Significance.

Madeira vine is a twining vine with wide, fleshy, heart-shaped leaves that are 2 to 15 cm long, with fragrant, cream-coloured flower spikes up to 30 cm long in March/April. As stems mature they develop aerial tubers which can become very large.

Dispersal: Madeira vine spreads via the aerial tubers which drop to the ground and form new plants, and also by root tubers. These tubers can be washed down creeks and drainage lines during heavy rain. The tubers can be viable for many years. The vine may also be spread in Council green waste, or dumping of garden waste in bushland.

Removal: Large vines which are smothering trees may need herbicide treatment. Pulling at the vines means that the aerial tubers drop on the ground. Smaller plants can be hand removed. All tubers and tuberous roots need to be removed. All parts of Madeira vine should be put in your red bin. Alternatively, put it in a black plastic bag and leave in the sun for some months, depending on the season. For treatment with herbicide, the 'stem-scrape' method is best. This method is also called bark-stripping or stem-painting. Stem-scraping is used for plants and vines with aerial tubers, or where underground tubers and roots are in a difficult-to-get-to place. A sharp knife is used to scrape a very thin layer of bark from a 15–30 cm section of the stem. Herbicide is then immediately applied to the exposed area soft underlying green tissue. For hard-to-reach tubers and roots, some section of stem and leaves should be left so that stem-scraping can be used. In the case of Madeira vine, all tubers within reach should be collected, removed and composted or destroyed before starting the scraping. 

Line Drawings by Lyn Skillings.

For more information, Click here.

Pittwater Ecowarriors provides an excellent YouTube video on Madeira vine

Grow Me Instead

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

Snake vine, Hibbertia scandens
This local vine has bright green leaves with large yellow flowers.

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.