gardens

Hunter Region Botanic Gardens


 

Southern Wetlands

ABOVE: The Southern Wetlands Boardwalk – Hunter Region Botanic Gardens

Late last week I decided I should do something with the final day of my annual leave that I had taken this time round, so I thought I’d pop into the Hunter Region Botanic Gardens near Raymond Terrace in New South Wales, Australia. I had been here before, but that was a long time ago. I wasn’t impressed on that first visit, so after more then a decade had it improved? Well that was the question I was keen to answer.

Rotunda

ABOVE: The Rotunda  BELOW: Succulents Section

Succulents

There was a $4.00 ‘escape’ fee, which would allow a token to be purchased and then the boom gate would rise once it was placed into the proper slot at the exit. So no entrance fee, just an exit fee. I was willing to pay this for a quick look and wander around the gardens.

So has it improved. Yes it has thankfully, but I still don’t rate it as brilliant or even what would come close to mildly impressing me for a botanic gardens. It is probably on the right track, but has a long way to go. And here’s the thing I think – a botanic gardens really needs time to develop, so those who will really benefit from the gardens are those who will visit it in about 25 years or so, when the plants have been allowed to mature somewhat across the gardens. It will also allow other pieces of infrastructure to be completed and for the gardens to achieve some ‘polish,’ so to speak. The central section of the gardens is very good and has been progressing well over the years (yes, it is a relatively young botanic gardens) – areas such as the bromeliad section, orchids, etc – even the succulent section a bit further away.

Orchid

ABOVE: Orchid  BELOW: Bromeliads

Bromeliads

So should you go? Look, it’s only $4.00 to get out of the place once you are there and you can get to see some great plants and do some good, easy walks – especially into the natural bush and wetland areas. So I’d say yes, just don’t expect a fully developed botanic gardens.

For more on the Hunter Region Botanic Gardens visit:
http://www.huntergardens.org.au/

Tree Ferns

ABOVE: Tree Ferns and Palms

Indian Hawthorns are in Full Bloom


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Another sign that spring is here is that the Indian Hawthorns (Rhaphiolepis indica) are in full bloom and looking spectacular in the Tea Gardens Grange gardens. We have a large number of these plants with some planted in mass plantings and others in hedges.

The Indian Hawthorn is an evergreen shrub that usually grows 2-3m tall x 2m wide. There are several cultivars, with one having completely pink flowers. The flowers are generally followed by a black to blue berry. Flowers appear mainly in spring, though there can be some flowers at other times. There is a slight perfume, but I barely notice it.

Indian Hawthorns can be used as specimen plants, tub plants, hedges, in drifts and in coastal areas (salt tolerant).

Indian Hawthorns are best grown in full sun (though they tolerate semi-shaded positions in hot climates) with reasonably fertile, well-drained soil. They will respond well to regular shaping, including the use of hedging machinery.

Plants can be propagated by seed or semi-hardwood cuttings in late summer.

For more Indian Hawthorn pictures visit:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/kevinmatthews/sets/72157622203247845/

SWOOPING BIRDS


 

It was the official first day of Spring here in Australia. However, Spring has really been with us here for quite some weeks now, given the very warm days and bushfires we have already experienced. In fact August 2009 was the hottest on record.

plovers and chicks Given that it is Spring it is time for a new season of new growth in the gardens and of new birth in the surrounding wildlife here in Tea Gardens (though it isn’t that clear cut obviously) and there is plenty of wildlife here.

On the way home from work today I was swooped by a Magpie – several times. The Magpie does this in its breeding season to drive off potential threats to its nest and young. Recently I have also been savagely swooped by the local plovers, which attack with even more ferocity than the Magpie.

The plovers had been defending their nest for some weeks prior to their eggs hatching. Their nest was beside the artificial lake in the centre of the village where I work at Tea Gardens Grange. The nest is just a small spot on the ground on which the eggs are laid. In this case their were four. They seemed to sit on the eggs for between 4 and 6 weeks before the young were hatched – swooping the entire time if you ventured too close, as well as making plenty of noise. One of the adults sometimes seemed to pretend to have a bad leg as it hobbled away from the nest in an attempt to get any threats to follow it.

At the moment there are two remaining chicks that are growing fairly rapidly now. The parents are still defending their young with menace.