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Australian Plants online

First Cuttings

Australian Plants Societies

Australian Plants online is brought to you by the 7 Societies that make up the Association of Societies for Growing Australian Plants (ASGAP).

Have you ever thought of joining one of the Societies? There is a Regional Society in every Australian state and also in the Australian Capital Territory. In addition, there are over 100 district groups established in centres throughout Australia.

Membership brings many benefits - regular district group and Regional newsletters, the colour journal "Australian Plants", access to free seed banks, regular meetings with expert speakers, bush walks, garden visits, advice from experienced growers, access to difficult to obtain plants and access to Study Groups.

Why not take a look at the Membership Page and see what we have to offer?


The "Gumnuts" Newsletter

Gumnuts is an email newsletter on Australian native plants which is published 4-6 weekly. It covers a wide range of topics - limited only by the imagination of its subscribers.

To subscribe - please see the "Subscribe" section of the current issue.

You may unsubscribe at any time.


Plant Hardiness Zones

A question often asked by people living in the northern hemisphere (particularly the USA) is "What Australian plants are suitable for my climate? I live in zone X".

Often, unfortunately, the answer is "not much!" or "I don't know!".

USDA Hardiness Zones and Average Annual Minimum Temperature Range
Below -50 F
Below -45.6 C
-50 to -45 F  
-42.8 to -45.5 C
-45 to -40 F
-40.0 to -42.7 C
-40 to -35 F
-37.3 to -39.9 C
-35 to -30 F
-34.5 to -37.2 C
-30 to -25 F
-31.7 to -34.4 C
-25 to -20 F
-28.9 to -31.6 C
-20 to -15 F
-26.2 to -28.8 C
-15 to -10 F
-23.4 to -26.1 C
-10 to -5 F
-20.6 to -23.3 C
-5 to 0 F  
-17.8 to -20.5 C
0 to 5 F
-15.0 to -17.7 C
5 to 10 F
-12.3 to -14.9 C
10 to 15 F
-9.5 to -12.2 C
15 to 20 F
-6.7 to -9.4 C
20 to 25 F
-3.9 to -6.6 C
25 to 30 F
-1.2 to -3.8 C
30 to 35 F
1.6 to -1.1 C
35 to 40 F
4.4 to 1.7 C
above 40 F
above 4.5 C

Just to clarify the "zone" system for those not in the USA......

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) has published a map of plant hardiness zones which divides the United States into 11 zones based on their average minimum temperature. Zones 2 to 10 are also subdivided into a or b, giving a total of 20 zones or sub-zones (see the table at left). Using this system, plant producers can label their plants as being suitable for specific locations in the USA.

An attempt to produce a similar system for Australia has been published by Iain Dawson and on the basis of annual average minimum temperature range, all of Australia (excluding Macquarie Island) is covered by Zones 7b to 11. Australia just doesn't experience the extreme winter conditions seen in much of the continental United States. Areas of the USA with similar climates to Australian conditions are mainly the far western and southern States.

What this means is that people living in Zones 1 to 5 are probably going to find many Australian plants difficult to maintain out doors during winter. Unfortunately, the last people to ask about Australian plants to grow in those zones are Australians ....we just don't have the experience!

But we are always eager to hear about experiences (good and bad) under those difficult conditions.


Flora for Fauna

The following is a media release from Senator the Hon Robert Hill, Leader of the Government in the Senate, Minister for the Environment and Heritage.

16 August 2001


Environment Minister Robert Hill today announced half a million dollars in Federal Government funding for an innovative national program to encourage native flora and fauna in Australia's urban gardens.

Senator Hill said the new Flora for Fauna project-devised by Australia's Nursery and Garden Industry-has won support through the Federal Government's $2.5 billion Natural Heritage Trust.

Little Wattlebird

"Most of Australia's almost one million homes have a backyard and this national project will encourage all Australians to use these areas to create their own Flora for Fauna gardens," Senator Hill said.

"We want to encourage and show people and communities throughout Australia how they can create truly 'living gardens' - gardens that naturally attract, nourish and provide a safe haven for our unique birds, butterflies, frogs and lizards.

"Australians want to play a part in protecting our local wildlife and this new national project gives them a practical way to contribute. These gardens will provide the vital native plants our local creatures need to survive and they give every household a way to enhance and protect Australia's unique biodiversity."

A key focus of the new project will be dedicated Flora for Fauna displays in participating garden centres throughout Australia. Plants most suited to an area will be clearly identified in garden centres with their own label showing the Flora for Fauna name and symbol-and they will be accompanied by planting and other information.

Levins Honeyeater

"People can do as much or as little as they like," Senator Hill said. "They might plant some banksias opposite the rose bushes to attract honey-eaters or they may choose to completely overhaul their garden with a completely new native design."

The Flora for Fauna program will encourage increased plantings by local councils, property developers, schools and other community groups while discouraging the domestic planting of environmental weeds. 'How to' information will be distributed through local councils, zoos, botanic gardens, garden centres, schools and a web site will be running later this year. The Flora for Fauna project is to be promoted through the media and a web site featuring an extensive database of flora, fauna and their locations.

Industry will also contribute funding for Flora for Fauna and it will involve partnerships with botanic gardens and zoos, councils, environment groups and plant societies, research and tertiary institutions and Environment Australia to achieve its goals.


Weedbuster Week

Weedbuster Week in 2001 runs from 7 - 14 October. The aims of the week are to:

Weedbuster logo
  • To raise awareness and increase public understanding about the problems weeds cause help the public make the connection between their gardening, farming or grazing habits and potential land and environmental degradation
  • To provide the public with the information and skills required to play a responsible role in the sustaining use of the land and water resource and ultimately make the necessary changes in behaviour to help the environment
  • To foster community ownership of problems resulting in acceptance and support for weed management projects

Information on activities for the week as well as other information on weed control can be found at the Weedbuster Week website.


Net Watch

Web Pages for Australian Daisies and Heaths

Rhodanthe manglesii
Rhodanthe manglesii
From the Australia Daisy Page
Photo: Australian Daisy
Study Group

These two recent additions to the ASGAP web site have been produced with the help of the Australian Daisy Study Group and the Epacris Study Group. They both include information on propagation, cultivation and characteristics of the plants as well as photographs, distribution and botanical notes on selected species.

Why not take a look?

Australian Arid Lands Botanic Garden

Horst Weber advises that the Australian Arid Lands Botanic Garden Website is now online. Horst, who is German by origin and is based in Ireland and has a love of the Australian flora and landscape, has done a great job in designing the site. It includes a lot of innovative features including a plant puzzle, a section on being "WaterWise" and random multiple choice questions on plants.

What's Its Name?

WIN LogoSpacer

'What's Its Name?' is being developed as a concise check-list of active or current plant names and name changes since 1990 for Australian plants. Included with it is a list of scientific references for the names and for further reading. It is a collaborative project of the Australian Biological Resources Study, Australian National Botanic Gardens and the Centre for Plant Biodiversity Research.

A Virtual Herbarium

Here's an interesting concept....

Charles Sturt University has commenced an online "Virtual Herbarium" covering flora of the south west slopes region of New South Wales. Images and selected label information has been scanned from the Herbarium's collection so users can view specimens over the web. The idea is to provide a reference collection and on-line data for researchers, land managers, students and community groups.

The Herbarium on-line web facilities allow viewing of, for selected species, herbarium specimen sheets and habitat information.

At this stage the on-line specimens are fairly limited and cover several genera in the Fabaceae, Mimosaceae, Myrtaceae and Proteaceae. However, the plan is to expand the facility to enable users to easily identify native and exotic species in the region, and to obtain useful information about each specimen.


In Memory of Dave Gordon

It's probably not an exaggeration to say that Grevillea "Robyn Gordon" has attracted more people to the cultivation of Australian native plants than any other plant. David Gordon was the man responsible for this outstanding cultivar (and many others) and he recently passed away at the age of 100. His memory will live on though his plants and through the Myall Park botanic garden that he established at Glenmorgan in Queensland.

The following is a short tribute - unfortunately of unknown origin.

"Many of us are saddened, no matter how inevitable, by the loss of this great botanist and native plant breeder.

Grevillea 'Robyn Gordon'    
Grevillea "Robyn Gordon"
Photo: © Australian National Botanic Gardens

From a forestry point of view, he had the oldest ex situ forest planting of the Western White Gum, Eucalyptus argophloia, and frequently swapped seeds with the Forestry amenity nursery staff in Dalby, from the days of Peter Hawkins onwards. The botanic garden he created in his busy life of managing a working grazing and cropping property is probably one of the largest and most comprehensive private collections in Australia, especially of dry country flora some of which are thought to be extinct now in the wild. Dave visibly itched to get away from or seemed to go to sleep in dry meetings indoors but came to life out amongst his "children" in the garden, remembering and informing as he went from plant to plant.

During this long, productive life he had occasions to mourn the deaths of his blossoming daughter and his beloved young wife. These he immortalised in Grevillea hybrids he created in his "back-yard" nursery - "Robin Gordon" and "Sandra Gordon". This breeding effort no doubt inspired others to continue down this often rewarding pathway; in the process serving to help popularise the planting of natives, which was done only exceptionally or by enthusiasts even 40 years ago."


Birds for the Future


Do you believe that Bird Habitat conservation is critically important and urgent?

Is the ongoing survival of our native bird species a priority with you?

If your answer is 'Yes' to both of these questions you will want to attend this symposium on bird habitat conservation in New South Wales and the ACT.

When: Saturday 6 October 2001
Where: ANZ Conservation Theatre, Taronga Zoo
How: Register your expression of interest by contacting SNAG office, GPO Box 1322, Crows Nest 1585
Email: rosella63@bigpond.com
Phone: 02 9436 0388.

Chaired by Birds Australia President Prof Henry Nix, the program features:

  • International guest speaker Iolo Williams, presenter of the two acclaimed BBC TV series "Birdman" and "Iolo's Wild Wales" (winner BAFTA award). He, together with the BBC, will be in NSW making a documentary on the birds, habitats and community involvement in bird conservation issues.
  • Leading Australian speakers: Dean Graetz, David Baker-Gabb, Andrew Fisher, Stuart Blanch and Nicholas Carlile.
  • An Open Forum moderated by Bernie Hobbs, ABC Science reporter, with multidisciplinary expert panel: Stephen Garnett, Penny Olsen, John Dengate, Judie Peet and Ian Davidson.

Admission Prices:
BA or Bird Club non-member $130
BA or Bird Club member $ 90
Students $ 70

Registration includes: Morning and afternoon tea, lunch, free admission and car park at Taronga Zoo, exclusive Taronga Zoo Free-flight bird show after symposium.

This is a Birds Australia Centenary Event in conjunction with BIGnet (Bird Interest Group network).


Birds In Backyards Breeding Bird Survey

Birds are an important and highly visible part of city life. However while some native species are becoming more common, others, particularly the smaller birds, are becoming rarer. In order to preserve these urban bird communities we need to understand more about their lifestyles so we can include important components of their environment in our gardens. Birds Australia has established a Birds In Backyards Project to examine the bird friendliness of our cities.

Birds in Backyards LogoSpacer

The first Birds in Backyards community survey looked at the relationships between larger aggressive birds and smaller natives as well as what aspects of backyards encourage birds. This project, which took place in October 2000, was a resounding success. However, one factor we need to look more closely at in the spring of 2001 is the importance of urban gardens and parks to nesting birds.

We are seeking volunteers throughout Sydney, the Blue Mountains, Newcastle and the Illawarra to be on the look out for nesting birds and to provide information on the habitat provided by their gardens, parks and local bushland.

If you wish to become involved in the project then please mail the form (below) to us. If you have any other questions please phone Holly Parsons (02) 42213436 or email backyardbirds@uow.edu.au

I would like to register for the Birds in Backyards Breeding Bird Survey





Mail form to: Backyard Birds
Department of Biological Sciences
University of Wollongong
Wollongong, NSW, 2522


Open Garden Scheme

A number of gardens featuring Australian plants will be open in 2001/2002 in the Sydney area as part of the Open Garden Scheme. Gardens will be open in other parts of Australia as well - see the Open Garden Scheme web site for more details.

October 2001 - Cheree's garden

The principal purpose of this award winning native garden developed since 1995 was to ensure privacy for an open corner block. Around a mature Eucalyptus haemastoma and a Norfolk Island pine, a native shrub border exhibits variations in leaf texture and height. Banksias, grevilleas, callistemons and wattles abound. Features include a granite path, raised and mounded garden beds, coloured foliage to create interest plus the strong use of groundcovers and grasses. Both adults and children will delight in the well-constructed tree house and large shaded sandpit.

Owner: Cheree Hall, 12 Wyanga Rd, Elanora Heights.
Directions: UBD 138: A14.
Size: 30 x 20 m. Partly suitable for p/p/w. Teas. Toilet.

Open: 20-21 October 2001, 10am-4.30pm, $12 joint fee with Bundarra and Polglase garden.

Top of image    
Middle of image    
Bottom of image    

November 2001 - Aitken garden

Nestled below street level, the garden is terraced, allowing a variety of views over the river and Jannali Reserve. The various terraces form usable spaces including a lawn and barbecue area which is linked to the gazebo and waterfall/pond area by an interesting path. A diverse collection of ferns and groundcovers spill over retaining walls. This well-designed garden contains mainly Australian plants and offers a very pleasing living environment.

Owner: Elizabeth and John Aitken, 44 Buchanan Ave, Bonnet Bay.
Directions: UBD 312:G10. Garden at end of right of way.
Size: 0.1 ha (0.3 ac). Unsuitable for p/p/w. Teas. Toilet. Water caution.

Open: 24-25 November 2001. 10am-4.30pm. $4.50.

March 2002 - Cheree's garden

See details above.

Open: 16-17 March 2002, 10am-4.30pm, $8 joint fee with Polglase garden.

March 2002 - Halcyon

A sandstone-lined creek runs through the gentle valley at Halcyon. Sally and Simon have regenerated the sloping banks with plantings of natives to attract birdlife. A former wasteland has been transformed into six garden rooms, with a relaxing blend of foliage and floral colour beneath the canopy of huge Sydney blue gums. Two bridges have been constructed across the creek, and pergolas also provide links between the different areas. One of two restful courtyards connected to the house has an Oriental theme and contains camellias, windflowers and mondo grass.

Owner: Sally and Simon Robinson-Kooi, 1 Kingfisher Pl, West Pennant Hills.
Directions: UBD 171 P:6.
Size: 0.3 ha (0.7 ac). Partly suitable for p/p/w.

Open: 23-24 March 2002. 10am-4.30pm. $4.50.


"Australian Plants"....in print!

'Australian Plants' - CoverSpacer

The Society's 48 page, colour (printed) journal, "Australian Plants" has been published quarterly since 1959. It carries articles of interest to both amateur growers and professionals in botany and horticulture. Its authors include the leading professional and amateur researchers working in with the Australian flora and many beautiful and high quality photographs of Australian plants are published in its pages. Topics covered by the journal cover a wide range and include landscaping, growing, botany, propagation and conservation.

A subscription to the print version of "Australian Plants" is $19.80 annually for 4 issues (overseas $AUS32) including postage. To subscribe, print out the Subscription Form and post or fax the appropriate fee to the address indicated on the form.

Note that the contents of "Australian Plants" and "Australian Plants online"
are totally different

These are some of the topics covered in recent issues of "Australian Plants":

Tasmanian Epacriadaceae
Australian Citrus
Growing Hakea in a Dry Climate
Olearia - Plants of the daisy family
The Olympic and Paralympic Bouquets
Eucalyptus cabinet timbers
Eremophila as Cut Flowers
Eremophila Seed Germination
Cassia and Senna in Australia
Australian Ferns - Growing them successfully
Smoke induced germination
Tea trees
The "Honeypot" Dryandras
Bernawarra Gardens - Tasmania
Plants for wet areas
Philotheca and Eriostemon - name changes
Lilly Pilly cultivars
Tropical legumes
Eucalyptus cinerea - lignotuber studies
Nutritional needs of Proteaceae
Labichea and Petalostylis
Xyris in Australia
Ferns in a garden
Yellow Waratah...Telopea truncata form
"Pines" of Tasmania
Tasmanian plants in horticulture in Britain
Eucalypts of Tasmania
Cut flower production trials
Emu Bush - Growing Eremophila
Kangaroo Paws - for colour
Creating a native garden...For beginners
Native honeysuckle; The genus Lambertia
Fertilizing for grevilleas
Creating homes for birds and mammals
Mistletoe; their natural biological control
Banksia Cultivation and Propagation
A Plantation Timber Industry
Hakea for Cultivation
Grafted Hakea
Ornamental Eucalypts for cut flower production
Leptospermum - colourful cultivars
Australian Rushes
Native Bees and Seed Dispersal
Sun Orchids - Thelymitra
Eucalyptus Foliage - Cut stems and postharvest
Vegetation of Macquarie Island
Grevillea - care and maintenance
Proteaceae of the rainforest
Richmond Birdwing butterfly
Terrestrial orchids of Royal National Park
Bladderworts - carnivorous plants
New Banksia releases
Edible wattle seeds - southern Australia
An introduction to legumes of Australia
Orchids as garden features
Native lowland grasslands of Tasmania
Orities - Tasmanian endemics
Gardening in clay
The daisy family
The tea tree oil industry
Riceflower - an everlasting daisy as a cut flower
Corkwood as a source of medicine
Outback Gardening - Achieving water efficiency
Pioneering Quandong as a fruit
Commercial cropping in the dry Interior
Bush food plantations
Rainforest plants - horticulture and bush tucker
Native fruits - Aboriginal food
About plant roots
NSW Christmas Bush: Cut flower industry


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Australian Plants online - September 2001
Association of Societies for Growing Australian Plants