Members of Heathmont Bushcare will be delighted to know that the rains of recent times have been very beneficial in helping the little plants that were planted at Uambi (Harper’s Bush) in early April to establish themselves. Several weeks of very dry weather immediately after this batch of baby plants were put into the ground meant that each had to be individually watered, by hand, twice, in order to stop them shriveling up! The cold, wet winter weather of recent days has provided its own challenges with some plants becoming waterlogged, but so far only 2 of the 100 plants have not survived. That’s an impressive 98% success rate and a real testament to the care with which they were put into the ground over a month ago.
The cold and wet weather has also had the benefit of slowing weed growth in recent weeks. There are several invasive weeds to be found in Uambi which need constant monitoring, removal and sometimes spraying. The largest of these is the Radiata Pine which can grow up to 35 metres tall. These spread easily but are also easy to identify and remove when young. Sweet Pittosporum, ironically an Australian native plant which grows to 15m high, is another tree-weed that spreads very easily. It grows well in disturbed soil and its seeds are distributed far and wide by birds. English Ivy, Onion Grass, Montpellier Broom and Wandering Jew can be a problem at times, but Asparagus Fern and Blackberries present more of a problem at Uambi as they are both very invasive and very difficult to remove. Blackberries really require spraying (often more than once) in order to kill them. Pulling out by hand is difficult because of the thorns and spread of roots, and often not very successful as blackberries will sprout again from any part of the root remaining in the soil. Asparagus fern is a native of South Africa that, given a chance, will completely smother other plants. It is an aggressive climber producing underground tubers which form dense impenetrable mats. Again, this makes removal by hand difficult but at least it does die easily and quickly when sprayed.
The winter months, when weed growth slows, allow us to concentrate on removing some of the larger weeds, such as the pine trees by ring-barking and the pittosporums by cutting them back and then poisoning the stems. It can sometimes seem like an overwhelming and never ending job, but with the help of Heathmont Bushcare members, we are slowly but surely winning.
Everyone can help by removing weeds from their own gardens and public spaces, and by discouraging neighbours from planting them. Much information about common weeds and how to remove them can be found at the Community of Ringwood Indigenous Species Plant nursery (CRISP) at 17 Greenwood Avenue in Ringwood.