Monday, September 30, 2013

Echium or pride of Madira

Light: Full Sun
Height: 5 feet to 8 feet
Width: 5 feet to 6 feet
Zones: 10a to 11b
Bloom Color: Blue
Leaf Color: Green, Silvery
Special Features: All or parts of this plant are poisonous, Not North American native
Shape: Rounded
Fertilizer: Miracle-Gro® Water Soluble All Purpose Plant Food
Want to know where Pride of Madeira will thrive in your house or garden? The EasyBloom Plant Sensor will give you a plant's-eye view of your environment to measure soil, sunlight, temperature and humidity.

Plant Care

Sow seeds of annuals species in spring; sow perennial and biennial species in summer. Root semi-ripe cuttings of shrubby perennials in midsummer.

Plant Growth:
Echium grows best with full sun, and thrives in areas with hot summers. Species are drought tolerant, but cannot withstand temperatures below 30ºF. Where hardy, grow Echium in an annual, mixed, or herbaceous border. They also make good container plants. Elsewhere, raise Echium indoors.

Flowers are borne from spring to summer. They attract bees, butterflies, and birds.
Soil that is too rich will hinder flower formation.
Soil and Irrigation:
Outdoors, Echium does well with poor, dry soils. For indoor plants, use a standard soil-based potting mix. Water freely during the growing season; water sparingly in winter.

Plants should be cut back hard before winter.
Slugs are known to attack young growth. Other pests include whiteflies and spider mites.


Friday, September 27, 2013

Cankers On Trees

How To Treat Cankers
You may have noticed some unsightly cankerous looking wounds in your tree. What are tree cankers and what causes them, and how do you treat cankers in a tree once you see them? Continue reading to learn more about the types of canker in trees and how to go about preventing tree cankers.
What Are Tree Cankers?
Cankers on trees appear as isolated dead areas on the bark, stems, branches or twigs. Cankers may appear as discolored areas or depressed places on the bark.
A fungus that enters the tree and grows between the bark and the wood killing the bark generally causes cankers.
However, cankers can also be caused by damage from weed eaters, lawnmowers, chemicals, insects or environmental conditions.
The canker itself makes the tree highly vulnerable to bacteria, fungus and insects. Young fruit trees have an especially difficult time recovering from cankers. Established shade trees may weaken and become susceptible to wind damage.
The healthier the tree is, the more likely it is to ward off serious damage from a canker disease. Trees that are weakened by temperature, drought, poor nutrition or other present diseases are much more susceptible to canker diseases. Canker diseases are more common with hardwood trees than on conifers.
Type of Cankers in Trees can Vary
Depending on the region where you live, different cankers on trees are found. Some of the more common types of canker in trees include:
Thyronectria canker is caused by a fungus and is most common on the honey locust tree.
Nectria canker tends to attack deciduous shade trees, crabapples and pears.
Cytospora canker is found most often in fruit trees, hardwood forest trees and shrubs, as well as over 70 species of conifers.
Hypoxylon canker is seen in different species of oak including red and white.
How Do You Treat Cankers in a Tree Effectively?
So how do you treat cankers in a tree? Preventing tree cankers is the best method of protection. It is best to plant native or well-adapted species for your growing region. These tree species will suffer less stress and adapt well to the soil type, sun exposure and overall environmental conditions in your area.
The avoidance of stress is the best and most effective protection against canker diseases. Proper tree care including watering, feeding, mulching and pruning will help to keep trees as healthy as possible.
Once a tree has canker, it is essential to remove as much of the canker fungi as possible from the tree to avoid infection and spread. Prune only during dry weather and make cuts with a sterilized cutting tool at least 4 inches below the edge of the canker on trees.


Friday, September 13, 2013

What is Humus

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Pruning citrus trees sydney


Fertilising and Pruning


Citrus are high feeders and love fertiliser. In many books you will read, fertilise your citrus twice a year. We have a different opinion. “A little bit - often” is our philosophy. Therefore feed your citrus at least four times per year. Timing is not critical, if you haven’t feed your tree for a while, start now. There are many different commercial citrus fertilisers on the market. We generally don’t recommend these fertilisers as their instructions are often difficult to comprehend,

eg. X kilograms per age of tree.

There is nothing quite like, good old fashioned blood and bone or well rotted chicken manure or cow manure or ‘Organic Life’ or ‘Dynamic Lifter’. Any of these are fine and it’s a good idea to alternate between them. Water your tree well; remove any mulch from around the tree. Spread the fertiliser evenly around the soil underneath the

canopy, but not directly against the trunk. The amount varies, depending on which fertiliser you choose. Don’t be afraid, you can use up to half a bucket, per tree of organic fertiliser. Generally the organic fertilisers are less harmful if you accidentally overfeed. When all else fails, read the instructions on the bag. There is no need to cultivate the fertiliser into the soil as this will only cause damage to the surface roots. Water in well and then replace the mulch.

Citrus in pots also require regular feeding. Fertilise at least four times per year. Either ‘Organic Life’ or ‘Dynamic Lifter’ is great; put a light covering over the entire surface of the pot. If these products are a little too smelly, you can use ‘Osmocote’ or ‘Greenjacket’ slow release fertilisers.


Citrus unlike many other fruit trees don’t require annual pruning to aid in fruit production. They can be happily left for

many years unpruned and will still produce an abundance of fruit.

Alternatively, citrus can be pruned into any shape that is desired. Citrus are often trained and pruned into Standards, for a formal topiary effect. Planting citrus close together and regular pruning can form a lovely dense fruiting hedge. Citrus are very adaptable and can be trained and pruned into many shapes only limited by your imagination.

Australian Cumquat pruned as a Standard

Espaliered Citrus are becoming very trendy for the smaller gardens or balconies. An espalier is when the citrus is pruned and shaped flat against a wall or lattice. All varieties of citrus are suitable and it is simply a case of tying the new growth back against the wall, fence or lattice and pruning off, any forward growth that can’t be tied back, creating a flat two dimensional plant. This saves space, creates a beautiful green wall and the citrus still produce an abundance of fruit.

Kaffir Lime trained as an espalier

Old, neglected, citrus can be resurrected by a heavy rejuvenation prune. If the tree is old and ugly and hasn’t fruited well for years attack it with a chain saw, taking it right back to the main fork. This sounds drastic, but the tree was useless as it was, so you have nothing to lose. As it starts to re shoot, fertilise well and water regularly. Most often the tree with comeback better than ever and continue producing fruit for many more years.


Wednesday, August 31, 2011


Dichondra repens: is a member of the Convolvulaceae family and is known as Kidney Weed. This is an unfortunate common name. Although the leaves are kidney-shaped it is not a weed but a useful Australian native plant.
Dichondra repens is a prostrate perennial that roots at the nodes. The kidney-shaped leaves are about three centimetres across. The flowers are small and inconspicuous.
Dichondra repens is distributed throughout Australia as well as New Zealand .
The species will develop into a dense ground cover but requires reasonable water for maximum coverage.
In some gardens Dichondra repens is grown as a lawn substitute but requires full sun and watering to fulfil this purpose.
It is said the Dichondra repens will invade garden beds. We do not agree with this slander. We welcome Dichondra repens into our gardens as the species does not interfere with other plants. It forms living mulch that inhibits weeds and reduces evaporation.
Propagation is by division.
Sometimes nurseries sell Dichondra repens in punnets.


Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Cumberland Plain Woodlands

Cumberland Plain Woodlands


Scientists generally recognise the 'Cumberland Plain Woodlands' to represent those distinct groupings of woodlands dominated by trees of Eucalyptus moluccana,(Grey Box), Eucalyptus tereticornis (Forest Red Gum) and in some areas Eucalyptus crebra (Narrow-leaved Ironbark).
Summary of the nomination
The nomination of 'Cumberland Plain Woodlands' is for Schedule 2, ie, 'Ecological Communities that are Endangered'. The nomination provided a summary of information about the ecological community and evidence about the conservation status of the ecological community type. This community type was once widespread in the Cumberland Plains region west of Sydney NSW but has been reduced to a few fragmented stands by human use of this land for farming, industry and housing. The nomination states that the remaining stands of this ecological community are threatened by the spread of the Sydney suburban areas.
Statement with regard to the Endangered Species Protection Regulations
This nomination has been assessed by officers of the Threatened Species and Communities Section, Biodiversity Group, Environment Australia. ESSS has been advised that the information supplied with the nomination meets all the requirements specified by regulation.
Description of the range and status of the ecological community
The Cumberland Plain Woodlands is the accepted name for the plant community that occurs on soils derived from shale on the Cumberland Plain.

The Cumberland Plain Woodlands ecological community is characteristically of woodland structure but may include both more open and more dense areas, and the canopy is dominated by species including one or more of the following: Eucalyptus moluccana, Eucalyptus tereticornis, Eucalyptus crebra, Eucalyptus eugenioides and Eucalyptus maculata. The understorey is generally grassy to herbaceous with patches of shrubs, or if disturbed, contains components of the indigenous native species sufficient to re-establish the characteristic native understorey. The Cumberland Plains Woodlands ecological community includes regrowth that is likely to achieve a near natural structure or is a seral stage towards that structure.

The following assemblage of grass, forb and sub-shrub species characterises the understorey of the Cumberland

Plain Woodlands ecological community:

  • Aristida ramosa,
  • Aristida vagans,
  • Arthropodium milleflorum,
  • Chloris truncata,
  • Chloris ventricosa,
  • Commelina cyanea,
  • Cyperus gracilis,
  • Dianella revoluta,
  • Dichelachne micrantha,
  • Echinopogon caespitosus,
  • Echinopogon ovatus,
  • Entolasia marginata,
  • Eragrostis leptostachya,
  • Hypoxis hygrometrica,
  • Lepidosperma laterale,
  • Lomandra filiformis,
  • Lomandra multiflora,
  • Microlaena stipoides,
  • Oplismenus aemulus,
  • Panicum simile,
  • Themeda australis,
  • Tricoryne elatior,
  • Asperula conferta,
  • Brunoniella australis,
  • Dichondra repens,
  • Glycine cladestina,
  • Glycine tabacina,
  • Goodenia hederacea,
  • Hardenbergia violacea,
  • Hibbertia diffusa,
  • Hypericum gramineum,
  • Lissanthe strigosa,
  • Oxalis exilis,
  • Phyllanthus filicaulis,
  • Pratia purpurascens,
  • Solanum pungetium,
  • Vernonia cinerea and
  • Wahlenbergia gracilis.
  • The characteristic taller shrub assemblage is:
  • Acacia decurrens,
  • Acacia falcata,
  • Acacia implexa,
  • Acacia parramattensis,
  • Bursaria spinosa,
  • Daviesia ulicifolia,
  • Dillwynia sieberi,
  • Exocarpos cupressiformis,
  • Indigofera australis,
  • Melaleuca decora and
  • Eremophila debilis.
  • The following assemblage characterises the tree canopy:
  • Eucalyptus crebra,
  • Eucalyptus eugenioides,
  • Eucalyptus fibrosa,
  • Eucalyptus maculata,
  • Eucalyptus moluccana and
  • Eucalyptus tereticornis.
  • Not all species listed as characteristic of the assemblage occur in every single stand of the community. Also, the total list of plant species that occurs in the community is much larger than the characteristic assemblage, with many species occurring in one or a few sites, or in very low abundance. A detailed description of the ecological community is provided in Benson D. (1992). The natural vegetation of Penrith. Cunninghamia 2(4): 541-596.
    The distribution of Cumberland Plain Woodlands in the County of Cumberland in 1788 was approximately 107,000 hectares. Only 6% (6,420 hectares) of the original community remained in 1988 in the form of small fragmented stands. Although some areas occur within conservation reserves, this is in itself not sufficient to ensure the long-term survival of the community unless the factors threatening the integrity and survival of the community are ameliorated.
    Threats to the community include clearance for agriculture, grazing, hobby and poultry farming, housing and other developments, invasion by exotic plants and increased nutrient loads due to fertiliser run-off from gardens or farmland, dumped refuse or sewer discharge.
    How judged by ESSS in regard to the ESP Act criteria
    It is the view of ESSS that the ecological community known as 'Cumberland Plain Woodlands' is subject to current and continuing threats likely to lead to extinction as demonstrated by the following two of the four criteria for an ecological community provided in the document 'Listing Endangered Ecological Communities under the Endangered species Protection Act 1992: Guidelines for Nomination and Assessment of Proposals':
    a) marked decrease in geographic distribution (to 6% of the original community), and
    d) restricted geographic distribution such that the community could be lost rapidly by the action of a threatening process (such as clearance for farming, industry and housing).
    ESSS judges that this ecological community meets the criteria for endangered under s6. (3) for the following reasons:
    it is likely to become extinct in nature unless less the circumstances and factors affecting its abundance, survival or evolutionary development cease to operate.
    'Cumberland Plain Woodlands', should be listed under 'Schedule 2 Listed Ecological Communities' of the Endangered Species Protection Act 1992.

    Woodlands vanishing from Sydney's outskirts

    Cumberland Plain Woodland

    Woodlands vanishing from Sydney's outskirts

    Environment Australia
    The Cumberland Plain Woodlands is the name for the distinct groupings of plants that occur on the clay soils derived from shale on the undulating Cumberland Plain in central New South Wales. The most commonly found trees in the woodland are Grey Box Eucalypts Eucalyptus moluccana, Forest Red Gums Eucalyptus tereticornis, Narrow-Leaved Ironbarks Eucalyptus crebra and Spotted Gum Eucalyptus maculata. A variety of other lesser-known eucalypts as well as shrubs, grasses and herbs are also found. It is the dominance of Grey Box and Forest Red Gum that makes the community distinctive.
    Where is it found?
    In 1877 Cumberland Plain Woodlands covered 107,000 hectares occupying approximately 30 per cent of the Sydney Basin. This community type was once widespread in the Plains but has been reduced to a few fragmented stands by human use for farming, industry and housing. Today less than six per cent remains in small fragments scattered across the western suburbs of Sydney, totalling only 6400 hectares. The remaining fragments occur in areas subject to intense pressure from urban development.
    Although some areas occur within conservation reserves, this is in itself not sufficient to ensure the long-term survival of the community unless the factors threatening the integrity and survival of the community are eliminated.
    What are the threats?
    The remaining stands of this ecological community are threatened by the spread of the Sydney suburban areas. Threats include clearance for agriculture, grazing, hobby and poultry farming, housing and other developments, invasion by exotic plants and increased nutrient loads due to fertiliser run-off from gardens and farmland, dumped refuse or sewer discharge.
    What's happening?
    Both New South Wales and the Commonwealth have listed the Cumberland Plains Woodland as an endangered ecological community under their respective Legislation. A Recovery Plan for this Woodland is being prepared by the NSW Government. Environment Australia, under the Natural Heritage Trust, is supporting a number of projects restoring and rehabilitating these woodlands through Landcare and Bushcare programs and through community groups
    How can I help?
    You can help by:
    limiting access to the Cumberland Plain Woodland by you, your pets, your garden plants, your rubbish and your vehicles;
    practising environmentally safe bushwalking by keeping to paths, not trampling or picking plants, and keeping pets on a lead (or at home!);
    disposing of cigarette butts and garden waste wisely and report any unauthorised fires or dumped rubbish to the appropriate authorities;
    supporting local efforts to conserve threatened species in your area by joining a local organisation such as a Landcare or catchment group, natural history or a 'friends of' group or by volunteering for Green Corps or the Australian Trust for Conservation Volunteers; and
    participating in special events, information nights, tree planting days and weed eradication programs in your local area.
    To find out more about saving your state's threatened species check out the Threatened Species Network (TSN) web site or call the Network's National Office on (02) 9281 5515.
    You can also find out more information about Australia's threatened species by calling the Department of the Environment and Heritage's Community Information Unit on free call 1800 803 772