The background to this web page is Epacris longiflora ("Fuschia Heath)"
which is found in the Sydney Region Gully section of the Gardens
(see story below - The Sydney Region Gully Launch).
It is one of several photographs selected from the Australian Plant Image Index
and framed by the Friends of the ANBG for permanent exhibition within the Gardens

Photograph by Andrew Lyne

This is a sample of our Newsletter's diverse and interesting content.
Join the Friends to receive your own full copy of each issue.

July, 2005

Sydney Region Gully Launch
Grasses in the Gardens
What's in a name ?
What to do in the Native Garden
Gang Gang
Friends Briefs
The Summer to Winter 2005 Plant-out at the Gardens

Sydney Region Gully Launch

A hearty turnout of dignitaries and staff ensured a successful launch of the Gardens' Sydney Region Gully walk on the morning of May 23.

Didgeridoo players provided a beautiful ambience before the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for the Environment and Heritage, Greg Hunt, spoke of the significance of the interpretative walk. He said its beauty and maturity represented 30 years of work by Gardens' staff while its signage would become a model for similar projects throughout the rest of Australia.

In the wild, the Sydney Region is one of Australia's richest floristic areas boasting some 3000 different plant species. The region extends from Nowra to Nelson Bay on the central coast of New South Wales, and as far west as Rylstone. It includes Sydney, Wollongong, Nowra, Newcastle, Singleton, Cessnock, Muswellbrook and the Blue Mountains.

The Gardens has managed to provide a snapshot of the area with 4400 living plants representing 625 species. Those plants represent everything from the woodland and coastal areas to the rainforests and upland heath. Some of the more iconic plantings include the towering Gymea Lily and the delicate Flannel Flower.

The eyecatching and informative signs tell of the geology of the Sydney area, how plants grow in the region and how generations of Aboriginal Australians have used them. The Sydney Region Gully walk is at the heart of the Gardens' mission to create an exhibit that can be explored by children, appreciated by adults, studied by researchers and enjoyed by all in perpetuity.

Parliamentary Secretary Greg Hunt and Paul Janssens discuss one of the new signs
in the Sydney Basin Region

Photo : Barry Brown

Two scenes from the launch                    Photos : Barry Brown



Grasses in the Gardens

Joycea pallida - Red-anther Wallaby Grass

Allan Ford
Member of the Friends of the ANBG

This is a genus of three species endemic to southeastern Australia. This species is a tussock-forming perennial which grows to 100 centimetres high.

It is widespread in NSW and Victoria, particularly on and around the Great Dividing Range. It was previously included in the genus Danthonia. It grows from sea level to the mountain zones, typically in native woodlands and often on heavier soils. In our region, the remnants are often found on hillsides underneath a scribbly or manna gum over-storey.

The spikelets, of 2-6 flowers, are purplish, becoming straw-coloured and are 10-15 millimetres long. The grass can readily be recognised in spring when the anthers are easily seen hanging from the flowers in their orange to pinkish to reddish state.

The leaves are fine and grey/green, 20-50 centimetres long with a smooth surface. This grass can be distinguished from the co-extensive Poa tussocks by its long flexible leaves. It can be found in the Gardens in the front Grass section and at the top among the existing Black Mountain flora.

Image : John Wilkes

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What's in a Name?

Bernard Fennessy
Volunteer Guide

In the Australian National Botanic Gardens there is a large specimen of Barrier Range Wattle, Acacia beckleri, in section 77 near the Top Depot. There are smaller examples along the Main Path in the Acacia section. It is a large shrub with thick, leathery lance-shaped phyllodes with thickened margins and a prominent central nerve. Characteristically the flowers are in very large, bright yellow balls about 1 cm in diameter.

This species occurs scattered throughout semi-arid to arid areas of South Australia in the vicinity of the Gawler and Flinders Ranges, and in western New South Wales on the bare hills of the Barrier Range near Broken Hill and across to Ivanhoe.

Acacia beckleri was named after Hermann Beckler who accompanied the first stage of the Burke and Wills transcontinental expedition, leaving Melbourne in 1860. An historical curiosity is that he wrote the only substantial account of the expedition prepared by one of its members. It remained in the possession of his family until it was deposited in a local museum in southern Germany in 1967. In 1993 it was published as a book A Journey to Cooper's Creek by Hermann Beckler, translated by Stephen Jeffries and Michael Kertz, Melbourne University Press.

Beckler was born in Bavarian Swabia in 1828. In Munich he studied medicine and also botany, zoology, mineralogy and mathematics. He studied medicine to make a living and to satisfy family expectations, but he wanted to become a botanical collector. He sought a free passage to Australia as a ship's doctor. He worked briefly in Tenterfield, NSW, and Warwick, Qld. In 1859 he travelled overland with a droving party from south-western Queensland.

 Acacia beckleri
Image by John Wilkes

Arriving in Melbourne in July, he made direct contact with Dr Ferdinand Mueller, the Government Botanist, who had already received botanical specimens from Beckler. Mueller offered him employment, sponsoring him on a collecting trip to New England in northern New South Wales. He named the species Ozothamnus beckleri after him.

Beckler was appointed to Robert O'Hara Burke's expedition to travel from Melbourne to the Gulf of Carpentaria. He was to be medical officer and botanical collector, but it was soon apparent that Burke would give little support to scientific endeavours and wanted Beckler to concentrate on the transporting of supplies, and the handling and use of the expedition's camels. Moreover Beckler knew that Burke had considered replacing him with a personal acquaintance, Dr John Stuart from Bendigo. Though this did not eventuate it increased Beckler's dissatisfaction, and he resigned from the main expedition after hearing Burke dismiss his second-in-command Landells, who had charge of the camels. However, despite Beckler's formal resignation he continued to be closely associated with the expedition and particularly the group under William Wright, former overseer of Mootwingee Station, which was to take supplies from Menindie to the Copper's Creek depot. Beckler's account describes vividly the travails of this support party, badly affected by sickness and a lack of water. Also, his observations give us a feeling for and understanding of the landscapes.

The late Dr J.H. Willis of the Melbourne Herbarium has provided a testimony to Beckler's botanical contributions which comprised 475 collections between Swan Hill and Koorliatto Creek; only 40 specimens were collected from beyond the 30th parallel after Beckler became restricted to tending to the needs of the sick members of the supporting party. Beckler's ability as a collector was acknowledged by George Bentham, principal author of the Flora Australiensis, who in the preface to the first volume in 1863 lists Beckler as the first of those collectors employed by Mueller who "have contributed most to the Herbarium".

Historically Beckler's role has been over-shadowed by another German, Ludwig Becker, who was engaged as artist, naturalist and geologist, and who died at Bulloo, 8 miles south of Cooper's Creek in April 1861, eight months after the expedition left Melbourne. Some of his legacy of sketches and paintings of aspects of the trip are shown in Beckler's published account.

Beckler left Australia in January 1862 after giving evidence to the Royal Commission into the failure of the Burke and Wills expedition. He furthered his medical studies in Munich and Berlin and became a practitioner in the Bavarian country town of Hindelang. Later he moved to the remote alpine village of Fischer and died there in December 1914.

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What to do in the Native Garden

Craig Cosgrove
A.N.B.G. Horticulture Manager

July and August

Generally this is a quieter time in the garden, but there are things you can do to prepare for spring and summer.

Install dripper irrigation to garden beds which will assist in delivering water to where it is needed; dripper systems are currently approved for water restriction usage.

Apply mulch to garden beds to assist with weed control, evaporation and to keep the ground temperature somewhat more stable through winter and summer.

Generally leave the pruning and fertilising until it warms up a little, otherwise the new growth following pruning and fertilising may be damaged by frost. Even dead foliage may protect newer more frost-sensitive growth or shoot tips, however, diseased vegetation may be removed.

Protect frost-sensitive plants; if you have them in pots move them to a warmer location such as under a verandah or eave.

If you intend to develop a new landscape, winter may be a good time to do it as the physical work will warm you up and at the same time you won't need to worry about weeds, watering and maintaining other areas as much as you would in the warmer growing seasons.

Take time to enjoy some of the flowers in the native garden, including some of the Banksia, Crowea, Correa, Hakea, Eremophila, and Xerochrysum etc. With these plants in flower over the winter months the birds and bees will be visiting your garden.

September, October and November

Start applying appropriate fertiliser for specific plants well before summer. There are various products with water crystals that you may wish to apply at planting time to assist plants through the summer period and probable water restrictions.

Depending on conditions, weeds will start to grow, so constantly control those weeds; a 'little and often' approach will mean weeds will not have a chance to set seed or spread stolons or rhizomes too far.

As you would be aware, many Australian plants can be propagated from spring onwards.

Due to the current drought and water restrictions much of our gardening is focused on managing and maintaining what we have in place. Many residents are changing their gardens to suit these conditions, i.e. reducing lawn areas and planting more drought-tolerant plants. Many of our Australian plants can be used, including various Banksia, Grevillea, Callistemon, Dianella, Acacia, Eucalyptus, Corea, Themeda and Poa spp.

The above is general information only; more information should be obtained on specific plant species, propagation methods, fertiliser types, etc.

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The Gang-gang - Canberra's Own Cockatoo

Tom Green
Member of the Friends of the ANBG

Many Friends of the ANBG will have a soft spot for the Gang-gang, our own high-country cockatoo. Gang-gangs can be found in the Gardens throughout the year. They are grey cockatoos similar in size to the Galah. Males have a striking 'post-box red' head while females have a finely barred breast; both sexes sport a jaunty little crest of curling loosely barbed feathers. They occur as pairs or small family groups. Their flight is fast, but heavy, and usually about tree canopy height. Typically their flights end with the birds gliding steeply up to a perch in the canopy. Their weird 'creaky gate' call to each other while flying is unmistakable, but at rest, or while feeding, they are usually silent unless alarmed.

Gang-gangs feed in the tree canopy on Eucalyptus and other tree seeds, rarely venturing down to the ground except to drink. They are an adaptable bird that has learned to eat the seeds of a range of exotic trees (in the autumn Pistacia chinensis is a particular favourite). However, the Gang-gang has retained its ancestral habit of eating only the seed, always discarding the seedcase. For instance, when feeding on Hawthorn fruits they discard the flesh in favour of the small seeds. Like most cockatoos they also enjoy insect food; they sometimes eat sawfly larvae (Perga sp.) and it is fascinating to watch them carefully dismember and consume these obnoxious spitfires.

Gang-gangs nest in the ANBG most years. They like a big vertical hollow high in the tree and locally they show a preference for the smooth barked E. mannifera. A typical tree can be found adjacent to the main path just above the new rock garden. Breeding takes place from September to about January and small flocks of young birds are a feature of Canberra's older suburbs through late summer and autumn.

There is some debate about the conservation status of the Gang-gang. Its numbers are declining at the periphery of its range but in the ACT it seems to hold on fairly well. Thirty years ago it was regarded as a winter migrant to Canberra that, like the Pied Currawong, retreated to higher country during the summer. Both species are now year-round residents benefiting from their adaptation to Canberra's urban environment.

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Friends Briefs

Public Fund

The design for the new Public Shelter, the first project to be financed by the ANBG Friends Public Fund, has been approved and its site will shortly be selected, in consultation with Friends' representatives.The opening of the new shelter, scheduled for later this year, will provide a good opportunity for an official public launch of the Fund.

Professor Frank Fenner, a foundation member of the Fund's Committee of Management, recently resigned from the Committee, a and we greatly appreciate the significant contribution he has made since the Fund's establishment. His place will be taken by Dr Robert Boden, a former Director of the Gardens, and a well-respected authority on botanical issues in our region.

Donations received by the Public Fund are very much appreciated. All donations over $2 are tax-deductible and further details can be found by clicking here.

Craft Sale

The Friends Craft Group has been disbanded (except for special commissions), and they are selling some craft materials and books. A sales table will be set up to coincide with the Growing Friends plant sale in November. Meanwhile, if you are interested in purchasing these materials, please phone Doreen Wilson on 6288 5215.

Parking Fee Increase

The cost for parking at the ANBG will shortly increase to $1.40 per hour and $7 per day. Of course, as Friends of the Gardens, you will not pay anything, as free parking is part of your membership benefits.

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The Summer to Winter 2005 Plant-out
at the Gardens

Stuart Donaldson

A.N.B.G Collections Officer

The summer to winter 2005 period at the Gardens was a particularly busy time for staff - collecting plants, cuttings and seeds in the wild, and planting out many species.

The plant-out consisted of around 5,500 plants, comprising around 700 taxa. David Taylor assisted for 10 weeks through March to May. Focus plantings included the front entrance Bottle Tree; lifting of the Rainforest Gully lower canopy to allow more light and air movement and the subsequent planting of northern rainforest species; the planting of Actinotus forsythii which enhanced Gino Corsini's excellent preparation for the launch of the Sydney Region Gully interpretive walk. In addition the Concourse had numerous tired and sad specimens deracinated, to make way for the new goodies, including red, pink and orange flowered gums.

     Myoporum floribundum
             Photo : Murray Fagg

Commersonia sp. "Zamia Range"

Photo : Andrew Lyne





      Eucalyptus ficifolia

            Photo : Andrew Lyne

The continuation of the Rainforest Gully epiphyte program leads into the first of the field trips undertaken. Wilson River, within Willi Willi National Park, was again visited by Toby Golson and Adrian Gallman, who had gathered enough windfall epiphytes to fill their vehicle and trailer after two days. David Taylor and I then went up and filled another vehicle. The material we gathered is still being tied to host trees at the time of writing.

The second trip was to accompany Stig Pedersen of Booderee Botanic Gardens to Nadgee Nature Reserve, Mt Imlay, Doctor George Mountain and other locations of the far south coast of NSW. Stig made ninety collections of seed and cuttings for both gardens, and herbarium specimens for Booderee Herbarium.

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