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
Tuesday, 19 March 2019
Our next Bushcare Workday is on Thursday 21 March at our Helensburgh Creek site, 78 Parkes Street, Helensburgh. We work from 9 am to 12 noon. We welcome extra volunteers. Please wear long sleeves, covered shoes, hat, and bring water. Information and training on-site.
Monday, 4 February 2019
Formosan lily Lilium formosanum
Formosan lily is a native of Taiwan. It was widely cultivated as a garden ornamental, particularly in the temperate regions of Australia. Unfortunately it has become a major environmental weed. Formosan Lily grows along roadsides and in bushland, grasslands and disturbed sites. It spreads easily and can displace native vegetation.
Formosan lily is an upright herbaceous plant with unbranched stems growing up to 2 m tall. Its elongated and narrow leaves are stalkless and hairless. It has very showy funnel-shaped flowers which have six large white 'petals'. These petals are usually flushed with mauve or reddish-purple on the outside. Its large capsules are cylindrical in shape.
Dispersal: Seeds and bulbs are spread by water, wind, humans, contaminated soil and in dumped garden waste.
Control of Formosan Lily is difficult. Hand dig the plant out, making sure all parts of the bulb are removed. Don’t just pull the plant up. The bulb is quite deep in the soil and all you’ll get is the stem with some roots (called stem roots). Treat before flowering. Bag all seeds (capsules). Follow-up treatment is required. Spraying with herbicide is generally ineffective.
A closely related species is November lily (Lilium longiflorum). November lily has wider leaves and its flowers are pure white, with no sign of mauve/reddish-purple flush.
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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.
Grass flag - Libertia paniculata. Australian native which forms a grass like clump with masses of white flowers in spring, for moist, semi-shaded positions.
Madonna lily - Lilium candidum. Unlike most liliums, this species keeps its green leaves through the winter. It grows, on average, to one metre with white flowers.
Tuesday, 27 November 2018
Montbretia (Crocosmia x crocosmiiflora)
Montbretia is a vigorously growing, long lived bulbous plant which dies back annually. It is grass-like in appearance and often mistaken for Watsonia. It has strap-like leaves around 30 – 80 cm long and 1 - 2 cm wide. It was a popular garden plant due to its bright orange trumpet-shaped flowers, which form in two rows along each stem. The aboveground foliage is short-lived, and grows back each year from underground 'bulbs' (i.e. corms) and creeping stems (i.e. rhizomes).
Montbretia grows in dense clumps and is capable of adapting to a variety of conditions. It out-competes native plants, particularly in native bushland and riparian areas. Montbretia can sometimes still be found for sale at local fetes, nurseries and markets, despite the ban on sale in NSW.
Dispersal: Montbretia mostly spreads from underground runners and bulbs. Each plant can produce up to 14 new bulbs annually. These bulbs break off from the parent plant and begin to produce their own root network. This increases the size and density of an infestation. Bulbs can be transported to new locations by dumped garden waste, water and movement of contaminated soil. New plants also develop from the tips of the creeping underground stems (i.e. rhizomes)
Removal: To save you time and energy, the most effective removal of Montbretia is just before full flowering occurs around Spring and Summer and digging out bulbs when the soil is wet. Hand removal is only practical for small clumps of the weed. Use a garden fork to dig all corms and underground stems to ensure complete removal. Cut stems first if the plant is in seed. Spraying with herbicide or using a weed wand is another option.
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Leek lily (Bulbine bulbosa)
An Australian native plant, leek lily is an attractive species with fragrant yellow flowers. It is especially suited to rockeries and cottage gardens and is also excellent as a container plant.
Blue flax lily (Dianella spp.)
Flax lily is native to Australia and many of the garden cultivars stem from four of the native strains. The richly-hued blue flowers with delicate yellow anthers perch like chandeliers on the end of wiry stems and contrast well with the long linear form of the leathery leaves.
Kangaroo paws (Anigozanthus species and varieties.) Kangaroo paws originate in Western Australia. They have clumps of strappy leaves. The different varieties vary in colour, height and hardiness in our area.
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.
Thursday, 1 November 2018
Small leaf privet (Ligustrum sinense)
Small leaf privet is native to Asia. This plant was commonly used as a hedge plant in the past but causes allergies in humans, and has become invasive in native bushland, and neglected gardens and wastelands. Small leaf privet is considered to be serious environmental weed throughout Australia. Infestations threaten biodiversity, including endangered plant and animal species and ecological communities. Dense stands of privet prevent other vegetation surviving or establishing.
Small leaf privet is a shrub or small tree that has green leaves up to 7cm long, usually with wavy margins. Privet flowers in spring. Its flowers are small, white and strongly scented in large sprays on the ends of, or along, the branches. Flowers are followed by blue/black berries which are attractive to birds.
Dispersal: This species reproduces by seed and root suckers, and it also re-sprouts after its stems are deliberately cut or otherwise damaged. Its seeds are readily dispersed by fruit-eating birds and other animals. They may also be spread by water or in dumped garden waste.
Privet is unlikely to be sold in nurseries but may be available at fetes or markets. Do not plant it, and if it is already present in your garden please remove it so it doesn’t get a chance to spread further. You may find privet seedlings coming up regularly in your garden under any trees.
Removal: Remove young plants by hand. This is best done when the soil is moist to ensure you do not break off or leave any of the root system in the ground. For plants that cannot be pulled out, carefully dig out the plant, removing as much of the root system as possible. Large plants may need chemical treatment.
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Grevillea biternata – A grevillea from WA with a massed display of creamy white flowers.
Leptospermum ‘Cardwell’ - Gracefully weeping aromatic evergreen foliage, covered in white flowers late winter to spring.
May bush (Spiraea cantoniensis) - A deciduous or semi-deciduous shrub producing masses of arching stems with double white flowers for several weeks in spring.
Saturday, 20 October 2018
Cocos palm (Syagrus romanzoffiana) and Canary Island date palm (Phoenix canariensis)
Cocos palm is native to South America. It is invasive in Queensland and NSW, as well as places like Florida and Honduras. This palm is single-stemmed palm that grows to an average height of 12m. Tall fronds up to 5m long bear leaves with a green upper surface and greyish undersides. The Cocos palm is known for its bunches of orange yellow fruits (each fruit 2.5cm in diameter), and often has an untidy appearance due to hanging dead fronds and fermenting dropped fruits.
Canary Island date palm growing at Proud Park, Helensburgh
Canary Island date palm is naturally found in the Canary Islands. It has also naturalised in many countries and is regarded as a weed in Australia and California. This palm has a strong trunk that is scarred with old leaf bases and long gracefully arching fronds. The lower leaflets on each frond are reduced to stiff sharp spines. Large golden-stemmed panicles of small, 3-petalled, often yellow flowers are followed by soft, single-seeded, orange to near-black fruits.
Young Canary Island date palm growing in bushland near Proud Park, Helensburgh
Dispersal: These palms reproduce entirely by seed. These seeds are spread by bats and other animals that eat the fruit. The seeds are also dispersed by water and in dumped garden waste.
Removal: Small palms can be dug out, larger ones will require specialised equipment, e.g. a registered tree removalist. If you wish to keep your palm, please remove inflorescences before fruit appears. Both these palms are on the Exempt Tree list for Wollongong City Council. This means that once the palm is positively identified, you can remove it without having to apply to Council for permission.
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Bangalow palm Archontophoenix cunninghamiana
This palm has a solitary stem and reaches a height of up to 30m and a diameter of up to 30cm. It has a prominent crownshaft and arching fronds up to 4.5m long with many leaflets, giving it an attractive feathery appearance.
Cabbage tree palm Livistona australis
This local native palm has fan- shaped leaves and generally a smooth trunk, although old leaf bases are retained on young plants. Remnant trees, sometimes as much as 30 metres high, can often be seen in gullies in cleared paddocks on the coast.
Dwarf date palm Phoenix roebelenii
A neat dwarf palm, which is slow growing and cold hardy. It will thrive in heavy shade and gives a tropical feel to almost any garden space.
Thursday, 23 August 2018
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.
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.
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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.
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.