District Group 2022 Highlights part 2

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. 

Blue Mountains, Margaret Gaul

Bushwalks were led by Dick Turner at Mt Wilson to view orchids. A spectacular display of waratahs was seen on the Burramoko fire trail at Blackheath in November on a walk led by Jim Ward.

A trip to the Central Coast in August, staying in The Entrance was interesting. Apparently it has been taken over by a consortium. Dick had no light in his bathroom and others lacked certain other essential requirements. Maybe we should go a little more upmarket next time and stay in a caravan park. We made the best of it and had some really good walks and dinners and jokes about the accommodation.

Bush regeneration went well and we had 13 sessions dealing with rampant weeds especially along the creek line.

Dick Turner did two very successful full day propagation workshops at the nursery. We had a very successful Spring Show and visited Mt Tomah, Mt Annan and the Grevillea Park.

All in all, a very good year.

Burramoko Ridge, image Heather Miles

Central Coast, Richard Street

This year has benefited from the removal of the COVID restrictions. with more face to face events for the friendly and gregarious members of the Central Coast group. We welcomed the full return of meetings, bush walks and tried our best to fit our bush botany sessions to the weather and schedules.

We were pleased to maintain membership numbers at about the 100 mark, losing some and adding others. The new onboarding processes now gives us more information about new members so we can seek to better meet their needs. David Bocalatte has been working hard with Merle Thompson and other groups membership officers to improve our professionalism in this area.

Our new tradition of an online plant sale was a great success again this year. The propagation days (Thank you especially to Graeme Ingall) were a popular social event, the buyers got great deals and the revenue balanced the groups books. Thanks to Cath Stofka and her happy band of helpers for their very hard work.

This year we applied for some APS Bequest fund grants. The first to improve our propagation efficiency with a labeller and heat bed. The second application for a DNA study of our rare and endemic Grevillea shiressii to improve its conservation outcomes. We eagerly await the outcome of the selection process.

We were saddened by some losses this year, Robin Walker, a popular and active member who we shared with the local ornithological organisation, and life member Elsie Bartlett who was a fount of knowledge, friendship and sharing for decades. The many members who attended the funeral were reminded how much our group had meant to her, and she to us. They will be missed.

Some interesting and educational talks were conducted at meetings. Topics included Shayne Leslie – photography in Strickland State Forest, the symbolic language of plants, a quiz night, rainforests and Kariong Eco Garden. Diane Warman gave a presentation on the rare and local Grevillea shiressii and its response to floods. Now that the imperative for using Zoom for meetings has passed we are looking to experiment with options for using Zoom to bring remote speakers into our face to face meetings.

The major extracurricular event this year was the Biennial ANPSA meeting in Kiama which was attended by a number of our members who gave it a rousing thumbs up.

Once again we participated in the Royal Easter Shows flower display and competitions and were thrilled to come home with some ribbons. It is always nice to meet members from other groups during the setup and benefit from their very sporting advice.

Our dedicated team of bushwalk planners managed to plan and deliver some fabulous walks when weather permitted. They are greatly appreciated by the group as always. Thank you Barbara Melville, Joan Harden, Liz Hemphill, there is much more work put into the planning the right walk at the right place and time than the participants might imagine. Opportunities exist to join these experienced leaders in learning how to plan future walks.

Our members remain flexible and enthusiastic, and embraced the loosening of the pandemic restrictions to return to a face to face shared love of Australian Plants. Let’s hope 2023 allows a continuation of the relative normality as we once enjoyed it.

Importantly I would like to extend my thanks to the hardworking folks on the committee for their service. The group would not survive without them.

APS Group walk at Konda Rd Somersby
Exploring Bulgandry

Coffs Harbour, Robert Watt

Following two difficult Covid-ravaged years, the past year has again been a testing year for the Coffs Harbour Group. Not only have we had the lingering effects of the virus but outdoor activities have been disrupted by persistent wet weather and flooding. As a result, one meeting was cancelled, two of the six outings were cancelled and a third relocated. Perhaps unsurprisingly, attendances have been down a little at both meetings and outings. However, guest speakers have covered topics as diverse as orchids, poisonous Australian plants, Apocanad vines, and super macrophotography. Outings to survive the weather were to Woolgoolga (an area of rainforest regeneration), Urunga wetlands boardwalk, Coramba Nature Reserve, and private gardens in Kungala and Braunstone.

On an especially positive note, the group from the Northern Rivers affiliated with the Coffs Harbour Group, has been placed on a firmer footing with a new contact person (Jo Green) joining the Committee.

A plan for activities centered upon Mullumbimby to Alstonville and Lismore has been circulated to APS members in the area with 10 outings already organized.

This was an area badly affected by 2022 flooding and it will be interesting to get their feedback as they visit some of the iconic areas of the region. Plans are also afoot for repairing flood damage with some projects already being identified, including the Heritage Park Arboretum in Mullumbimby.

Finally, it is our extremely sad duty to note the death of our esteemed rainforest guru Alex Floyd in mid-December. Alex has been involved in the botanical and horticultural life of the district for over 70 years, including as a Life Member of APS NSW and recipient of an ANPSA Australian Plants Award in 2018. In the early months of the new year a number of events are planned to recognize his outstanding services to Australian plants.

Hunter Valley, Mick Belcher

We are still going but it has been tough through the Covid years! 

One highlight has been retaining our membership and, in many cases, despite the appalling weather, gather in numbers for events.

The visits to our more outlying members gardens were the real highlights, such as the one in Aberdeen, west of Singleton, another in Bolwarra Heights and another in Stanhope. 

We managed a stall at the Maitland Spring Fair. It was a real chance to meet a lot of people interested in growing natives. Thanks go to the team that set up , brought along flower displays and spent the days talking to interested people 

A visit to a local Bonsai fanatic was an eyeopener. He, literally, has thousands in his backyard including many magnificent natives. The amount of work involved was mind-blowing for many of our members

We continue to have a wonderful newsletter prepared by Mark Abell, that keeps us all connected. .

Visit to Aberdeen garden
Maitland Spring Fair

Macarthur, Rod Bray

2022 was a trying year with covid restrictions rearing their heads in many ways still. Macarthur group managed several of our meetings at various gardens in the Australian Botanic Gardens at Mount Annan. The large shelters there allowed us to meet safely outside and to keep dry when that was needed. 

For our May meeting, we were hosted by Christine and Bob at their place in Oakdale. We walked through the rainforest they have developed over the past decades and it was wonderful to see them and learn so much about them.

In November, our members met at Thirlmere Lakes and enjoyed a walk through the rejuvenating vegetation and the sight of the lakes full of water again.

Images below of Australian Botanic Gardens Mt Annan

Menai, Lloyd Hedges

In March we hosted the gathering of APS NSW which attracted about 50 people. Many plants sold and ‘The Mounds’ at the back of the IRFS attracted comment.

Our involvement with the Glossies in the Mist campaign is expanding with about 15,000 tubes stock being supplied to Beth Mott pushing the total into the high 20,000’s. The endeavours of Adrian and Janine Polhill resulted in 1600 native tube stock getting planted out, mainly in the southern highlands. There will be much more involvement in the future.

We have also become involved, through Patsy Nagle, in koala tree plantings during the expansion of the Royal into Garrawarra.

The volunteering at the Tip nursery has been going so well that we have had to request people not to come on occasion. The IRFS nursery/gardens had problems with the loss of some energetic members and so the attendance has bounced around. We have a very enthusiastic new recruit in Annie who is picking up propagation skills and young Jackson who took to tubing with glee. We hope to see more of them in the future.

Greg Jackson and Pam Forbes ran two popular walks to the Royal NP; one to Warumbul and the other to Audley, which added some historical background to environmental information.

Audley walk, image Lloyd Hedges
Audley walk, image Lloyd Hedges

Following our successful joint events with Georges River APS and Sutherland APS in previous years, we invited members of the National Parks Association to join us. We intend to continue with these combined activities in the new year.

The DNA work on Actinotus forsythii co-funded by the APS NSW and Menai, has been completed. What this information has revealed we are about to find out!

Newcastle, Mark Abell

With the winding down of Covid restrictions at the start of the year, the year was an attempt to return to business as usual. There was a full programme of meetings and activities & whilst numbers were down at the start of the year they gradually picked up thorough the year to something closer to the more usual numbers.

We also had 2 very successful plant sales this year – March and September. The September (spring) plant sale was so successful that we had to close by midday as we had managed to sell out of plants (over 2,00 sold in under 3 hours). We had people queueing at the gates well before the opening time.

All of the plants sold at our plant sales are propagated & grown in the group’s nursery at the Hunter Wetlands. Angela and the rest of the Thursday Mob do a wonderful job in propagating and growing on so many plants.

For anyone in the area, the nursery is open on Thursday mornings for plant sales as well being the morning when the propagation team does their work. There is always an excellent range of plants, many of these are hard to come by.

March plant sale
Plants ready for sale
September plant sale

Northern Beaches, Harry Loots

The group’s monthly meetings and talks resumed at Stony Range Botanic Garden from May 2022.  Covid-19 and storm damage to the Garden on 19 Dec 2021 and then the meeting room in 2022 thwarted our program. However, the members greatly enjoyed Anne Gray’s bushwalks and other excursions. The morning tea or lunch that followed walks and excursions has allowed the group to debrief with fellow members.


  • February – Talk by Graham McLean at the Australian Museum. The Evolution of Plants in Australia –  a private viewing of plant fossils stored at the Museum was a unique privilege. Afterwards we enjoyed lunch in the Museum’s top floor restaurant.
  • March – Paul Nicholson guided us on a tour of the Royal Botanic Garden Sydney themed The evolution of Australian flora – before and after the triumph of the gum trees. There was a convivial lunch at the Garden café.
  • October – The group attended the National Herbarium of NSW, Mount Annan for a guided tour by Collections Manager Hannah McPherson. A local lunch followed.  Unfortunately, someone had found a body on the Expressway out. This resulted in a long journey home.

October – Stony Range Spring festival

The group participated with plant sales, coffee and homemade cakes.     The Flannel Flowers flew out the gate, resulting in a large profit.

Walks and Garden Visits

  • April – North Head Sanctuary  plant identification walk with a lunch at the Fort café
  • June – Turimetta Headland walk and a café lunch
  • July – Challenger track, West Head walk and then lunch at a commercial nursery café on Mona Vale Road
  • August – A walk along the Bluff track at Bantry Bay followed by a café lunch.
  • September – The group walked along the Slippery Dip Trail in Belrose until we were interrupted by a rain storm.  We retired to the local pub to dry out and have some lunch
  • November – The group visited Pam & Valmai’s new garden in Allambie Heights.     There was a sumptuous morning tea.

Meetings 2022, held on first Thursday of the month

  • March – Bill Dobson Native orchids of the Northern Beaches
  • May – Ian Thompson – Garden insects and bugs – a close-up look
  • June – Trevor C Wilson – What is the Australian Bugle?
  • August – Penny Hunstead – Bush Tucker.
  • September – Hannah McPherson – 1.4 million plant specimens make their way to     Mount Annan
  • November –  Sean Granger – Weeds
Hanna MacPherson, image Harry Loots
Trevor Wilson, at Mt Annan, image Harry Loots

Nowra, Lesley McKinnon

Another busy year of activities including speakers, local walks, garden visits and garden working bees. The highlight of the year was a visit to the Ulladulla area held over 2 days which included a fossil tour of the rock platforms in the harbour, a visit to the Milton Rural Landcare Nursery and a guided walk through the South Pacific Heathland which was awash with flowers in late winter. All shared with members from the South East Group.

Knowledge was shared at our annual plant propagation day held at the Berry Public School plant propagation and natural studies centre. A great opportunity for members to share plant material, propagation tips and utilise the excellent facilities.

Our major promotional event was a 3 day plant sale at the Berry Garden Festival which topped off a very busy Spring for the Group which included a members “show and tell” night, garden visits and monthly working bees at the Wirreecoo Garden (the Groups display garden situated at the Jervis Bay Maritime Museum).

Our year concluded with our Christmas party held in a wonderful native garden owned and created by members of the Group.

South East, Diane Clarke

2022 was a year of many changes and weather-related issues. The South East Region group was determined to make the most of the year and to keep our activities simple and accessible. This resulted in the group organising an assortment of speakers and garden visits. We also participated in a BioBlitz activity. It was difficult to persuade members to open their gardens as many people felt overwhelmed by the plant growth and weed growth. As a positive solution to this we were able to call on our groups expertise and make a study of the weeds growing on a members block and how they were managing the issues. At other gardens we looked at design and maintenance issues and explored how members dealt with drainage and pest problems. We were also shown their favourite native plants and parts of the garden.

Three of our monthly activities involved listening and learning from excellent guest speakers on such subjects as ‘Insect Pollinators’ by Roger Farrow, ‘Recovery from Fire’ by Paul Martin and an orchid wander with Dylan Morrisey. We were also treated to a photography talk by David Kemp from Eurobodalla Photography Club to help us document the plants and animals around us.

A common theme of many of the events was recovery after fire. Previously this group wanted to help the Eurobodalla Botanic Gardens rebuild after the 2019 fire. This activity has become known as the Proteacea Project and we have a working group of 25 members. Plants have been propagated, potted and some planted and we look forward to continuing this work in the year ahead.

The wet year has been difficult for various reasons but has also helped the bush recover after the fires and drought. Providing an excellent display of wildflowers and healthy plant growth for us all to enjoy.

APS Flower Display at ERBG Bioblitz
Don and Julie Beattie Garden, image Di Clark
Margaret Lynch in garden, image P. Hattersley

Southern Highlands, Kim Zegenhagen

Primary members increased from 90 to 100. Secondary members increased from 21 to 27.

We twice (March & July) had to postpone garden visits because of extreme rain events. In April we had a stall for 2 days at the garden fair at the Southern Highlands Botanic Gardens. We outclassed every other local garden group with a brilliant display of plants.

Five speaker events were held. Attendance was always at least 25 members, with often more. All speakers were enthusiastically received. Topics covered were: Greening Australia, Birds and plants of the Southern Tablelands, Edible native plants, Photography of plants and animals. This was followed up by an excellent practical session at Mt Annan gardens and those forgotten pollinators- beetles and flies.

In June we had a stall at the Wingecarribee “Greener Footprints Fair”. We sold plants propagated by members. We considered this a great success as we completely sold out of plants.

We finally managed 2 garden visits unaffected by rain. At both events there were 30-35 attendees.

On 28/10/22 we took part in The Great Southern BioBlitz. This was a highly successful event attended by 17 members at Medway Reserve. We identified Grevillea raybrownii. A plant not previously known to exist this far south. We are waiting confirmation that a prostrate Kunzea may be a new species. We fully intend to participate in this event again in 2023.

In November we hosted the NSW APS for a weekend in the Southern Highlands. This was attended by about 70 people from across the state. This event was well received.

We continue to publish an eNewsletter every second month. Under the editorship of Trish Arbib this publication keeps getting better. Many members contribute articles.

Two enthusiastic members maintain 3 large planter boxes outside Coles Bowral. Our contact details are on the boxes and have led to new members.

Jen Slattery admiring Grevillea raybrownii
Jen Slattery admiring Grevillea raybrownii
Cockatoo on walk at Roberston Falls

Sutherland, Rhonda Daniels

The very successful ANPSA biennial conference in Kiama in September had a big impact on our year. Sutherland Group members enthusiastically supported the conference in many various ways. John Aitken and Ralph Cartwright were on the organising committee for several years of planning including of speakers and tours. Leonie Hogue summarised it well: “During the conference everywhere I looked Sutherland members were helping, organising or just participating and enjoying it”. As volunteers we used our skills guiding on pre and post conference tours, setting up for the conference including flower arranging and displays, speaking during the conference, volunteering at the conference venue, and accompanying day excursions. At the conference, John Aitken was elected President of the Australian Native Plants Society (Australia) and Rhonda Daniels as Secretary until the next conference in 2024.

At the APS NSW AGM in May we celebrated John Aitken being awarded life membership of APS NSW for his many years of dedicated service in many roles including as editor of the quarterly Australian Plants and as President and Secretary of APS NSW.

After Zoom meetings in February and March, it was then back to our usual face-to-face meetings with guest speakers organised by Ralph Cartwright. We heard about swamp wallabies, tree hollows, upland swamps, fossicking, identifying native plants, orchid conservation, bees, Five Islands, and koala habitat.

Leonie Hogue leading the flower arrangers, image R Cartwright
Waratah arrangement, image R Cartwright
Waratah arrangement, image R Cartwright

Our other highlights in 2022 included:

  • enjoying activities with local bushwalks, a garden visit, and promotions at Bundeena Sustainability Expo and the Bushcare Fair at Menai
  • supporting Joseph Banks Native Plants Reserve with working bees twice a month, and making plant labels
  • writing submissions on local conservation issues
  • supporting the Australian Flora Foundation with a donation
  • creating a showcase of native flowers for the public and winning prizes with our Australian plant entries at the Royal Easter Show
  • welcoming new members, and supporting the emerging Illawarra Group.

We continued to support APS NSW with members John Aitken as Vice-President, Lisa Godden as monthly enewsletter editor, and Dan Clarke as Conservation Officer.

Joan Zande and Marie OConnor adjusting entries, Easter Show April 2022 - by L Hogue
Joan Zande and Marie OConnor adjusting entries, Easter Show April 2022 - by L Hogue
APS at Bundeena - 25 June 2022, image B Simpson

Tamworth, Lyn Allen, Martin O’Rourke

2022 was a quiet year for the Tamworth Group.

We had 3 talks by members. One on the flowers in one of the member’s gardens, a second by a member on weeds and a third by a member on their trip to the UK and the effects of the drought there in mid-2022. It reminded us of the 3 year drought that we had been through that ended in 2020.

We had one propagation day at a member’s house. We had one morning planting out some more plants in our threatened species patch at the Tamworth Botanic Gardens. The plants were grown for us on assignment by a specialist nursery. We had one field trip to Klori TSR (Travelling Stock Route) which is not far from Tamworth.

We had one meeting a member’s house where we went for a garden walk after the meeting. For those other meetings where we had no scheduled activity we discussed the plants that had been brought in for the plant table.