10am Tuesday 18 June 2019
Martins Creek

In the absence of President Janie, Vice President Penny welcomed members and visitors.
Safety officer Robert cautioned us all to keep our chairs away from the edge of the open veranda and to be aware of animals and uneven ground when walking around the garden.
Penny said this garden “was her sort of garden” while introducing garden owner Cathy. The property of 80 acres is largely remnant bushland, except for the cultivated area around the house, and was officially gazetted six years ago, as a conservation zone in perpetuity. One reason being to prevent the property being acquired by the quarry, which adjoins the rear boundary of the property.

Cathy addressed the meeting and told us that she had been looking for land to rehabilitate when she bought the property 20 years ago. It is primarily a “non-breeding” animal sanctuary where she cares for mainly rescued domestic animals such as dogs, chooks (particularly roosters!), ducks, geese, goats, pigs and cattle. She has a good-sized dam which the ducks and geese particularly enjoy and the chooks are totally free range, although they are locked up at night. Dogs are also locked up at night so there is no danger to native animals. Cathy does not take cats although she has one of her own (until it dies) which is contained at night to prevent hunting of native animals. These domestic animals are fed and cared for until they die.

The conservation area is gradually being cleared of lantana using glyphosate and the “cut and paint” method, and the branches are left on the ground as mulch to protect new indigenous seedlings. Chemicals are not used for any other purpose. There is an area of dry rain forest near the top of the hill behind the house as well as a general association of spotted gum and iron bark on the slope. Only indigenous plants are used to rehabilitate, and the area is home to many native animals such as quolls, kangaroos, wallabies, possums, gliders and reptiles including goannas and snakes. Many birds, including small birds such as wrens, enjoy the habitat and along with the native animals help to keep insects and other pests in natural balance.

The garden is on sloping ground retained in some spots by rock gabion walls to stop erosion and is quite thickly planted with various trees and shrubs, including some citrus and succulents and ground covers. Cathy likes to allow trees and shrubs to die in place to provide habitat. Because of the slope she plants along the contours in swales using sheet mulch of cardboard and logs and lots of organic matter such as grass clippings, hay, leaves etc – anything to cover the bare ground. Cathy likes to recycle as much as possible and collects cardboard from businesses in Paterson as well as green waste from various residents and friends.

The vegetable garden is too large for one person now, so Cathy grows flowers amongst the vegetables – she has lots of different salvia species as they are always in flower and are drought tolerant. Two hybrid citrus trees in the garden are crossed with finger limes – one is crossed with fortunella cumquats which were delicious.

Q and A
Q: Other methods of removing lantana?
A: – Hand removal.
– In “blanket” infestation a splatter gun using a droplet stream (not a spray) of glyphosate 1:9, and striking at 1 metre intervals, can be very effective as it can be delivered from a distance and desirable species can largely be avoided. (Penny)
– Machine (Lisa has used a contractor) but must try to get earth covered as soon as possible. One strategy is to walk behind machine, scattering seed and fertiliser. A mix of millet and native grasses has been successful.
– Lantana can be safely left to mulch down as long as it is not in seed – it decays quite rapidly.

Q: Tree ID?
A: Malabar Chestnut or Saba nut (Pachira glabra) grown mainly for its edible seeds. It has large white flowers which are very fragrant especially at night. https://www.daleysfruit.com.au/Nuts/malabar.htm

Q: Do hydrangeas like sheep manure?
A: Most likely (Penny). One member has found that old original varieties tolerate heat the best.
Penny thanked Cathy for sharing her very interesting experiences and presented her with some Tar 10 products as a token of our appreciation

Garden Ramble
Liz presented the two garden owners who were present (Robyn, and Maree and Graham) with a book of photos of all the gardens as a special “thank you” and a record of the day.

Venue Coordinators – Owing to other commitments Christine Pike has eased into the background as a Venue Coordinator and Barbara Burnett will now work with Rosalie as the Venue Coordinators. As a show of appreciation to the outstanding effort for the interesting and range of venues Christine has found over her time as Venue Coordinator the members gave Christine a round of applause.|
Mudgee Bus trip – many members who indicated interest have not yet paid. We have to finalise numbers for the bus and accommodation bookings, so payment is needed as soon as possible please.

Photos: Liz

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