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

Monday, 31 July 2023

BE WEED WISE - Giant Bird of Paradise

 Giant Bird of Paradise (Strelitzia nicolai)

Giant bird of paradise, Strelitzia nicolai, is an ornamental evergreen, tall, palm like plant with large, broad leaves up 1.5 m long. During spring and early summer, it bears unusual beak-like, blue and white flowers with deep purple bracts. The entire flower can be as much as 18 cm high by 45 cm long, and is typically held just above the point where the leaf fan emerges from the stem. Flowers are followed by triangular seed capsules with black seeds with a bright orange aril attached.


Giant bird of paradise is native to South Africa and Mozambique.


Giant bird of paradise is sparingly naturalised in Queensland and New South Wales, also in Mexico. It has occasionally spread locally into our bushland. In favourable areas, they self-seed readily.


To ensure this plant remains in your garden, please remove spent flowers before seeds develop.


Grow Me Instead

Cabbage Palm, Livistona australis. This native palm has fan- shaped leaves and generally a smooth trunk, although old leaf bases are retained on young plants. Leaf ‘stalks’ have recurved spines mostly towards the base.   

Wednesday, 12 July 2023

BE WEED WISE - Liriope

Liriope (Liriope spp.)

Liriope is a clump forming, grass-like plant with glossy dark green leaves. It has spikes of small purple, violet or white flowers, followed by black, pea sized berries with one seed. It is a popular garden plant used extensively for its hardiness.


However, its origin is east Asia and it is starting to become a problem as it is spreading into local bushland. Seeds are spread by birds and water, also by dumping of garden waste.


Control: In the garden, cut flower heads before seeding. In bushland situations: Dig out plants ensuring any fruit/seeds are bagged, or foliar spray with herbicide. 

For more information: https://sydneyweeds.org.au/weeds/liriopelily-turf/


Grow Me Instead

Blue flax lily – Dianella caerulea. A native hardy and very easy care clumping perennial plant, growing up to a metre high and wide. It has sprays of small blue flowers in spring. 


Tuesday, 11 July 2023

BE WEED WISE - Asthma Weed

 Asthma weed, Parietaria judaica

Asthma weed, also known as pellitory of the wall and sticky weed, is a native of Europe, central and western Asia and northern Africa. It has invaded and is common in some part of eastern New South Wales, southern Victoria and south-eastern South Australia, as well as being present in other states and Lord Howe Island.

It can be found growing in urban areas (i.e. in walls, footpaths, embankments, etc.). It also inhabits gardens, rocky crevices, cliffs, coastal environs, riparian vegetation, waste areas and roadsides. In Helensburgh, it is present in damper areas, e.g. along creek and drainage lines, but is spreading.


As well as competing with our native species, it also has an impact on human health. Contact with the plant can induce severe skin reactions. Its pollen causes asthma, conjunctivitis, rhinitis and hay fever. 


Pellitory has inconspicuous small flowers in spring and into summer. Plants mainly spread by abundant seeds, which are dispersed by wind, water and by attachment to humans and animals by sticky hairs.

Carefully remove by hand being sure to dig out all the roots. Where roots are anchored in walls or rocks, herbicide may need to be used. For large areas spraying with herbicide will be necessary.

For more information: https://weeds.dpi.nsw.gov.au/Weeds/Pellitory

Monday, 31 October 2022

Creating a Bush Friendly Backyard


Creating a Bush Friendly Backyard



Why a Bush Friendly Backyard!


Low impact on the environment – less water, fertiliser, pesticide, construction.

Provides a refuge for local wildlife for nesting, resting and feeding.

It can be low maintenance, freeing you up for other pursuits!

It is your contribution to protecting our biodiversity.

 1. What have you got?  Site analysis….


Sketch out what already exists in your garden using grid paper.

Identify aspect N/S, sun, shade, topography, soil type, rainfall, drainage, runoff, structures, vegetation, views, sight lines, neighbours-buildings/trees.

Establish what wildlife is using your garden, including resident, migratory, native and introduced species and their movements throughout the year.


2. What do you want?  Assess your needs


What you want and what you need can often be two different things!

Who uses the garden and who’ll be maintaining it!

Family use, extra living space, social, privacy.

High or low maintenance garden?

Type of garden – ornamental, structured, wild.

Attracting wildlife into your garden, providing a habitat link with bushland.


3. How to get it!  Planning & Design


Constraints – budget, space, time – if removing all vegetation at once some animals may die during removal or may not return – consider staged works making your plan flexible.


Access – pathways, tracks, driveways – straight or meandering.


Materials – consider infiltration, sourcing, availability; retain all natural features that exist in your garden.


Plants for your site – introduced, native and local species.

Plan to renovate your garden while maintaining habitat for existing wildlife.


Designing for wildlife – nesting, resting and feeding sites. Try to provide year round flowering & fruiting, safe havens of dense vegetation, dips, hollows, rocks & logs.

Tips for getting started


Every action has a reaction!



  • More than likely that overgrown unsightly corner in your backyard is home to a variety of local minibeasts. Observe your garden for at least a year before undertaking work.


  • Outsmart weeds – get to know your weeds, flowering and seeding times, fibrous or tap root, woody or herbaceous habit – then you can use the most effective method to control them.


  • Attracting wildlife – provide a range of habitats that attract a variety of wildlife, incorporate upperstorey, midstorey and groundcover vegetation layers into your garden. Plant clumps of dense shrubs and if you have room – plant trees to create aerial corridors.


  • Plant non-nectar, insect pollinated plants such as wattles, native peas and tea-trees to encourage smaller, insect eating birds.


  • Retain where possible all natural features – branches, twigs, mulch and rocks.


  • Compost all your weeds & trimmings under black plastic.


  • Find out about your local wildlife and the natural habitat of these species.


  • Plant or install alternative habitat. Wait for plantings to flower and fruit then gradually remove (over the years) the habitat unwanted by you. Observe how the tenants are responding.


  • Where territorial birds such as Currawongs & Noisy Miners are a problem, restrict the number of fruit bearing plants (berries such as Blueberry Ash) and heavy nectar bearers (hybrid Grevilleas).


  • Provide clean, constant water to increase bird species to your garden.


  • Nest boxes may attract possums and hollow nesting birds. Placing them up high and away from your home will limit nocturnal disturbances.


  • Try to be patient and remind yourself of the important role you are playing in maintaining Australia’s biodiversity.


  • And remember it may look like a mess but in essence it’s valuable wildlife habitat!




(Adapted from “Creating a Bush Friendly Backyard” Willoughby City Council) 

Monday, 6 December 2021

BE WEED WISE - Coolatai grass

 Coolatai grass, Hyparrhenia hirta


It is just over 12 months ago that I first became aware of Coolatai grass. My daughter asked me if the grass growing below the netball courts on the bike track was Coolatai grass. I took photos and asked the Illawarra District Weeds Authority for confirmation. Unfortunately, it was. I subsequently found out that it was already growing in the old rubbish tip area and the IDWA had been spraying it with herbicide once a year. In October last year, they included some of the bike track outbreak in their spraying visit. Unfortunately, once a year spraying is not going to remove it. The Helensburgh Off Road Cycle Club has had a few working bees to try to tackle the problem.

Coolatai grass is a long-lived perennial that produces short rhizomes that form dense grass tussocks and grow to 1.5 m. Being drought tolerant, it has the ability to rapidly respond to rain, producing new culms from the tussock base and flowering in a matter of weeks. It is well adapted to fire, with tussocks surviving hot burns.


I believe it has been spread into Helensburgh by trucks and machinery. As well as the old tip and the bike track, I have this year noticed it growing along the roadside in Walker Street, opposite Cemetery Road. Unfortunately, it was disturbed during the 2021 re-surfacing of the top part of Walker Street, and there is every chance that it will continue to spread along Walker Street.


If you see Coolatai grass growing on your property, please remove it before it flowers and sets seed. You could also report it to David Pomery at dpomery@isjo.org.au


For more information: https://weeds.dpi.nsw.gov.au/Weeds/Details/179




Tuesday, 20 July 2021

BE WEEDWISE - Canna lily

Canna lily (Canna indica, Canna x generalis)


Canna lily is native to tropical America. It is considered an environmental weed in many areas of eastern and south-eastern Australia. It is also a problem on many Pacific islands, New Zealand and southern USA. It forms large dense clumps, particularly along waterways, and replaces native aquatic and wetland species.

It is a large, long-lived, herbaceous plant growing up to 2 m tall and spreading laterally by means of fleshy underground stems (i.e. rhizomes). Canna lily can flower from spring to autumn. Flowers are orange, yellow or red.

Dispersal: Seed and rhizomes spread by water, humans, contaminated soil (earthmoving equipment, car tyres etc) and garden refuse dumping.

Control option: Dig out clumps ensuring all the rhizomes are removed. If you wish to grow this plant in your garden, please remove spent flowers before seeds form and do not dump seeds or rhizomes in local bushland.


Grow Me Instead

Gymea lily - Doryanthes excelsa. A local native plant which 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 pedunculatumThis 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.









Tuesday, 20 April 2021

BE WEED WISE, Mother of millions

Mother of millions, Bryophyllum delagoense

Mother-of-millions is native to Madagascar. It is an erect, smooth, fleshy succulent plant growing to 1 m or more in height. Its mottled leaves are cylindrical and have a few small 'teeth' near their tips. Tiny plantlets are produced at the tips of its leaves. The drooping bell-shaped flowers (2-4 cm long) are usually red or reddish-pink in colour. These flowers are borne in dense clusters at the top of the stems. The fruits contain many seeds.

Bryophyllum delagoense

Mother-of-millions is commonly spread by gardeners and in garden waste. The plantlets at the end of the leaves drop readily, develop roots and establish quickly to form a new colony. Broken leaf parts can also take root and give rise to new plants. The tiny seeds are probably wind and water dispersed. 

Hand remove plants carefully, loosening the soil with a knife or trowel. Ensure all pieces are removed and disposed of in your FOGO bin.

For additional information, see NSW WeedWise


Grow Me Instead

Leek lily (Bulbine bulbosa): An Australian native plant, leek lily is an attractive species with fragrant yellow flowers, suited to rockeries and cottage gardens.

Blue Mexican hen and chicks (Echeveria glauca): A hardy, low growing Echeveria with orange/yellow flowers.

Mexican firecracker (Echeveria setosa): A lovely clump forming evergreen ground cover succulent with spoon shaped leaves covered in soft grey hairs to 10cm tall. It produces yellow-orange flowers through the summer months.