District Group 2022 Highlights part 1

By Uploaded by Heather Miles

With 19 local groups around NSW, there is always a lot of regional activity – bushwalks, meetings, talks, garden visits, plant sales, bush care and propagation. Here are some highlights from 2022. 

Armidale and District Group, Penelope Sinclair

A major highlight for us this year was the return of the activities associated with the St Peter’s Armidale Gardens. This is usually an annual event when a number of gardens are open to the public during the first weekend of November. The event had been cancelled for the past 2 years because of drought and COVID-19 shutdowns.

APS members Keith and Colleen Finlayson generously provided their very beautiful, largely native garden for the purpose and we were able to set up stalls for the sale of native plants to the public. This our main fund-raising activity and proceeds are spent on buying plants for our activities in the native section of Armidale Bicentennial Arboretum.  Over 300 people visited the garden during the weekend. Sales were good leaving only 140 plants remaining from over 500. These will be used for our Market Stall, planted in the Arboretum or sold to members.

It was also a special year for our work in the Arboretum. We did miss 3 working bees due to rain events and we lost a few plants where the water lay too long. Generally the plentiful moisture resulted in great growth and flowering of established plants. Led by Pat Laher, our Arboretum Coordinator, we concentrated on planting and were able to add 180 new shrubs to the garden beds and some additional trees bordering the paths. Spreading of mulch, delivered in truckloads by the Council, was a major task though, as always, there is more to be done. We also removed fallen trees, pruned and weeded.


Harbour Georges River

In 2022 Harbour Georges River group consolidated its membership and experimented with a flexible program. We held 10 meetings, mostly outdoors; two were held via Zoom, two in a church hall and one at a member’s home when rain cancelled a walk. Following our goal to get to know ‘our patch’, we met at locations throughout its length and breadth – from Picnic Point to Malabar, and from the Royal Botanic Gardens to Hurstville.

In May at Sylvan Grove Native Garden in Picnic Point we celebrated the legacy of some long-term members of East Hills Group who had died – Hugh Stacy, Kyrill Taylor and Graham and Margaret Walters. We planted rainforest trees in their memory with the help of their families and the resident horticulturists. Senior APS NSW members spoke of the help they had received from Hugh, Kyrill and Graham and we observed the end of an era, marking the name change from East Hills Group to Harbour Georges River with a celebratory morning tea.

We reached out to environmental groups in our catchment that have a bushcare focus – Wolli Creek Preservation Society (WCPS), Bankstown Bushland Society and Inner West Environment Group. We strengthened our relationship with neighbouring APS groups Sutherland, Menai and Parramatta Hills.

We gave a presentation and sold plants to a large audience of the Revesby Workers Garden Club and are co-operating in a community garden project with Campsie Earlwood Clemton Park Uniting Church.

in October, we participated in the Nature Conservation Council’s Picnic for Nature, with a successful event at Girrahween Park, Wolli Creek where we welcomed WCPS members and a Canterbury Bankstown Council officer.

A catalogue of the group’s library is in the final stages of development for publication on the Members only section of our web site and a new librarian has been elected to oversee this.

Illawarra Group Reborn! Michael Swire, President

Thank you to Heather Miles, Merle Thompson, and John Aitken, without their support, we would not be here.

Our Group activities kicked off with a wet Dharawal NP walk, and every month since we have undertaken walks, like the Escarpment Forest track, then Perkins Beach-endangered coastal scrubland walk, also a visit to Peter & Margaret Olde’s Oakdale Garden, Kiama Community Gardens, Michael and Mary’s Garden, Ruth and Anthony’s Garden, Gabriella and Rayner’s Garden and finally a Christmas gathering at the Illawarra Grevillea Park Botanic Gardens.

Proudly our new Illawarra group had many members involved in the 2022 Biennial Conference in Kiama, as volunteers and attendees, speakers, promotion creators, greeters, marshalling, stall assistance and tour leaders.

Gleniffer Brae is a beautiful Tudor Manor-style house within the Wollongong Botanic Garden, Illawarra Flame Tree - Brachychiton acerifolius - image Michael Swire

In October we elected Office Bearers, and therefore became a standalone group. Which facilitated the opportunity to open our own bank account.

Elected were, President – Michael Swire, Vice President & Webmaster – Tracee Lea, Secretary – Elizabeth Ramsay, Asst. Secretary – Ruth Livingstone, Treasurer – Geoff Dernee, Asst. Treasurer – Ruth Livingstone.

We have put the feelers out to find a clubhouse, having written submissions to various groups. These have not borne fruit yet; we will see what germinates in the New Year.

We have come a long way in 10 months, an entry point on the APS NSW website and an Illawarra District Facebook Group. We are growing in membership, with many ideas for the future.

In September 2023 the Illawarra group will be hosting the APS NSW quarterly gathering, things are moving fast, planning is underway for some interesting speakers and walks in Wollongong Botanic Garden and maybe even a private garden or two.

Looking forward to meeting other APS groups in the New Year, your place or ours.



North Shore

The North Shore Group (NSG) has held its educational Walks and Talks Program at the Ku-ring-gai Wildflower Garden every year for 34 years.

In 2022, 24 Walks and Talks program sessions were held between March and November. .Eight of the sessions were guided walks while the other sixteen sessions involved a one hour talk about a plant topic followed by a 90-minute guided walk in the garden.

The range of topics included banksias, wattles, peas, tea trees, bottlebrushes, gum trees, ferns, grasses and orchids; local fauna and their place in the environment and discussions on the management of fire and a practical session on bush regeneration.

Labelled plant specimens were made available for close examination during the talk and the living plant species were seen during the walk. Many of the plants seen on the walks have identification signs designed and maintained by NSG members.

Participants were not charged for attending and were provided with a free set of notes on each topic.  Ku-ring-gai Council provided Caleys Pavilion for free and printed the notes, which had been written by NSG members.

COVID precautions were followed closely and the program was not advertised widely in local media.  Attendance was down on previous years and ranged from a low of 8 to a high of 40 for the session led by Dr Barbara Briggs and Karen Wilson.

The session led by Barbara and Karen was the highlight of the year’s program.  These two experts tailored a lecture on Sedges, Rushes and Restiads to highlight the magnificent examples of these plants growing along Brown’s Trail, Banks Track and the Boardwalk and then led a walk to comprehensively discuss these plants in situ.

We hope to design and install signs along these tracks to permanently capture the new knowledge gained during the Sedges session.


Parramatta and Hills

The highlights for our year were the two events that we hosted. 

In May our Group hosted the NSW Regional Gathering. This was in the middle of our record breaking rainfall year and the heavy rain deterred many members from venturing out to visit The Hills. This was the first Gathering since two years of lockdown and those members from many NSW Groups who did attend were very happy to be meeting each other again.

Our second highlight was the celebration of our 50th anniversary at a lunch at the Muirfield Golf Club in September. Current and past members and members of other Regional Groups attended. This was a special opportunity to reminisce and celebrate some of our special members and events in the past.

Both these events required a lot of work to be successful. Our members rose to the occasion and actually had a lot of fun working together.

The Conservation submission this year was to The Hills Council drawing their attention to the significant vegetation community – Sandstone Transition Forest – which is under threat from a proposal to build three Rugby Union fields for the Eastwood Rugby Club in the Reserve

Jean Wright and Pip Gibian, cutting the 50th anniversary cake



Southern Tablelands – Jen Ashwell

This has been a year where the weather has predominated, wet, wet, wet…….

However, we have managed to keep the 1st Saturday Outings going although numbers attending have been smaller than usual. 

There has been little successful propagation due to the weather but have sold off most old stock. Some members have continued their involvement in other projects, Pauline with her commitment to the Native Gardens at the Goulburn Wetlands and a small group involved in propagation for the Kanangra-Boyd to Wyangala Link – The Great Eastern Ranges project.

Many members have lost a lot of plants, greater frosts and saturated soil don’t make for good growing conditions on the southern tablelands, where many had planted to cope with drought.  Our membership numbers have increased t with 10 extras and are spread over a wide area so we don’t get to meet many of them. That, I am hopeful, will change next year.

And finally Costa Georgiadis was at the Wetlands in December and he produced a great video on his ‘official’ Facebook website of the southern most of the APS gardens. https://www.facebook.com/CostasWorld/videos/3254234464829625