Friday, 30 June 2017

Get involved: Growing Illawarra Natives project

If you're a fan of using more local natives in your garden (or on your verge or verandah, inside your house etc!) you are probably, like me, rather frustrated at the lack of resources out there for the Illawarra region. It can be hard to answer questions such as what will grow well where, and how will it perform?  
A White Aspen (Acronychia oblongifolia) planted as a street tree in 
Fairy Meadow. It might reach 5m-8m high in the Illawarra, but a general 
web search would have you worried it might get to 25m or taller! 
Information about how plants grow locally is important!
The Grow Local native plant guide developed by Wollongong, Shellharbour and Kiama Councils is a great start, but it only covers a fraction of the local plants that are suitable for gardens and larger-scale landscaping.

Many areas around Australia have great resources for growing local natives, developed by local governments, not-for-profits, research organisations or some combination. Just a few examples include the GroNATIVE app for south-east Queensland, APACE Nursery's plant chooser for Perth suburbs, and Sutherland Shire Council's outstanding native plant selector. Many of these resources also help people identify nurseries that stock the plants they're looking for, which can be a key challenge in gardening with local natives. 
The adaptable Shiny Buttons (Leptorhynchos nitidulus), a great
easy-to-grow border or cottage garden plant but very hard to obtain
The Illawarra deserves something similar, focusing on the diverse array of amazing plants that grow in the region, and that's why I'm working with a group of local plant lovers to develop a new website - Growing Illawarra Natives. 

There is some way to go yet, but we are busy collecting information and photos, and  meet every couple of months to prepare content. 

Our next event is a workshop to review and finalise the draft descriptions of how to grow around thirty native plants, from Acacia falcata (Hickory Wattle) to Viminaria juncea (Native Broom). 
  • Date: Saturday 15 July, 9.30am to 12.30pm  
  • Place: Berry Public School on Clarence Street, Berry
  • Cost: Free, and morning tea is provided
  • RSVP: Lyn Clark on lyn-clark @ outlook.com.au or phone 44643911 by 9 July.
If you can't attend the workshop but would like to be involved, please get in touch with Lyn anyway and let her know you're interested. We are particularly looking for high quality photos of local plants doing well in garden situations. 

Cushion-bush (Scleranthus biflorus), a cute mossy-looking
groundcover, but known mostly from cold areas at fairly
high altitudes. This shot is from a garden in Canberra. But how well does it grow in the Illawarra?
Quite a few people think that Pennywort (Hydrocotyle tripartita) is a weed, but it is actually a local ground-cover, and handy for damp shady spots  
Happy gardening!

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