15 October 2019
At “Lyndhurst Vale” Wallarobba

President Janie welcomed members and guests.
Safety Officer Robert cautioned us to be aware of uneven ground and gravel paths.

The garden at Lyndhurst Vale is part of 5 acres situated on a hillside with shallow rocky soil and has a lovely outlook up the valley to the north and west, as far as the mountains. There are numerous hardy deciduous trees for shade including Chinese Elms, Gleditsia (Honey Locust) and Crepe Myrtle with evergreen shrubs and trees including Callistemon and Acacias, many underplanted with perennials and shade tolerant shrubs. Bougainvilleas have been kept trimmed to shrub-like shape and were a mass of colour. A permanent shade house allows vegetables to thrive. Succulents have been used to great effect in particularly difficult situations. Janie introduced garden owners Joan and Julian who both addressed the meeting.

Joan – told us that their 5 acre portion was part of an original land grant to colonial architect, John Verge and their home had been built about 15 years ago. Joan and Julian acquired the property in 2015 not long after the district’s catastrophic flood of that year, and were impressed with the greenness of the valley! Sadly those conditions proved to be the exception! They have “built on” the existing garden using succulents in difficult areas, and natives etc to tolerate the conditions. The garden is host to 3 bowers of the Satin Bowerbird.

Julian – Welcomed everyone and said that, although daunting, the process of hosting PAGG had been a great catalyst for getting planned jobs done, and he feels that he is now committed to and owns the garden! They have a dedicated tank water supply of 40,000 litres for the garden and there were already plenty of watering points to allow a drip irrigation system which delivers 3 litres an hour to the plants. They use lots of mulch and have expanded the plantings with drought tolerant species. Julian said they had lost some trees around the perimeter of the garden in a recent wind storm. He also said that he was thrilled with the bowers.

One plant that was intriguing was a succulent called “Sticks on Fire” – leaves completely reduced and the stems, which turn red in summer, arranged in a branching manner. It was about 2 metres tall and apparently easy to grow from cuttings, but allow wound to dry off a little before planting.

Janie thanked Joan and Julian for hosting us and presented them with some Tar10 products.

Peter from Flat Tops, near Dungog, addressed the meeting and related his experiences with an established garden that he moved to 2.5 years ago. The property is 12 acres and the house, with garden of 1000 sq. metres, was built 19 years ago. Whilst there are good vistas, the garden was overgrown, occluded the views and was basically non-effective! Peter knew what he wanted but he had no idea where to start, so he enlisted the help of horticulturist Pip Wilson. The brief was:
– to have a view from every window in the house.
– plants in the right place.
– heat and water-wise plants.
They decided to start again. Pip produced a plan that would enable him to work in zones – i.e. Vegetable garden, cottage garden, rock garden etc. This involved stripping out 1200 sq. metres, engaging a bobcat to redo the levels and, because the soil is quite shallow, importing a truckload of garden soil. Any plants that were thriving were moved to a suitable position and the rest were dumped! The vegetable garden was relocated to some raised beds.
The work started in June 2019, and the garden is a work in progress so we look forward to Peter hosting a PAGG meeting in the near future!
Pip commented that the hardest thing to do in Peter’s situation is to be brave and to ‘bite the bullet!’ That way you get to enjoy the benefits. Pip’s general advice for gardening in our area is to drive around and see what is growing well. Her experience is that plants that survive well are Mediterranean plants, purple flowered plants and plants with grey leaves.

Unfortunately, the “bee man”, who was booked to talk to us, had to cancel but hopefully will be able to come at a later date. Janie observed that perhaps the reason that bee colonies were so successful was that there was one Queen at the centre of the organisation – maybe a lesson for democracy!

Lisa addressed the meeting and displayed four rose books that had been written by her late mother, Susan Irvine. Two of her mother’s passions in life were literature and roses. She retired from the education sector at 55 and created a rose garden NE of Melbourne – the result of which was her first book. She then went on to create two more rose gardens – one closer to Melbourne and finally graduating to a 10 acre rose garden in Tasmania. The books are beautifully written and easy to read, with photographs by Simon Griffiths. In memory of her mother, and to further her mother’s passions, Lisa has generously donated a copy of the largest of these books to be raffled in support of the Dungog Community Centre’s Literacy programs which run throughout the Shire. Tickets will be available at future meetings and the raffle will be drawn at the Christmas meeting.

If you are interested in supporting the literacy programs please contact Anne Higgins, President of the Friends of the Dungog Community Centre on 0403 029 181.

Our November meeting will be in an urban garden in Dungog and, owing to lack of space, will be a members’ only meeting.

There will also be a fundraiser at the CWA Dungog for morning Tea at 10.30am on 29 October. Everyone is welcome to come to what will be a fun morning.

Q: Are the bougainvilleas dwarf varieties?
A: No. They are clipped to shrub shape.
Q: Remedy for oxalis in lawns – frequent mowing does not work!
A: Not sure. Will speak to Eco products for advice.

Advice from Janie – Put out fruit fly baits NOW! Recipe is on our website.

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Cobbitty Day Trip

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