Monday, September 24, 2018

Gum Vine

Aphanopetalum resinosum

I visited the Cranbourne Australian Garden near Melbourne, some time ago. It impressed me because of its many suggested ways of using Australian native plants in stylish ways, for modern small gardens. It takes Australian gardening away from the informal “bush garden” style which has dominated native plant gardens.
This nifty idea makes use of gum vine, Aphanopetalum resinosum.

The theme of that particular section of the Cranbourne garden was to do with getting height in a small garden, and I was intrigued with these tubular trellises. I expect that this particular vine species would fill the tube with growth, then could be kept loosely pruned to make a screen, or trimmed more closely to make neat formal columns.
As you can see from the photo is going to conceal the trellis, as the plant grows to fill it. This is quite a fast-growing plant, so it shouldn't take long.
A spring-flowering plant, it grows naturally east of the great Dividing Range from the Sunshine Coast to eastern Victoria. It can be found near Toowoomba along the eastern side of the Range, where it grows in rainforests and dry vine scrubs. Its favourite sites are rocky screes and cool gullies.
Its shiny “wet-look” foliage and masses of long-lasting, spectacular white sepals make it one of our most beautiful local native climbers for garden use.

“Aphanopetalum” is a word meaning “invisible petals”, which seems surprising at first glance - as the plant seems to be covered with perfectly visible, gleaming, white ones.  Closer examination shows you, however, that these are not petals, but sepals.

It is the beautiful sepals which catch our attention, but if you turn one up to face you, you can see the tiny flowers, complete with four very small petals, which they conceal. (Double click on the photo for a closer look.)

The sepals continue to ornament the bush as the flowers die and the fruits develop, creating the impression of a very long flowering season.

The leaves have tiny teeth on their margins, and the stems are covered with raised “lenticels” (little bumps) which make them rough to the touch.

If planted in a position where it has nothing to climb on, gum vine grows as a dense, spreading shrub or deep groundcover, but given something to climb it twines upwards, and can make a good privacy screen. It thrives on heavy pruning. It needs a bit of discipline to restrict it to a trellis or fence, as it has a natural tendency to get quite wide.

It can cope with very heavy shade (making it suitable for use indoors, or as a patio plant in a hanging basket). For good flowering, however, it prefers a little sunshine each day. It grows naturally on the rocky screes and stream banks on our eastern escarpment, where it can have its preferred cool, well-shaded root-run. It is claimed to be frost hardy, and thrive in a sheltered Toowoomba garden but I would not trust it to survive in areas which get hard frosts.

Like all rainforest plants, it likes a rich soil full of compost, and a good mulch. Well-watered, it grows very rapidly - yet it also grows in our local dry rainforests and scrubs, tolerating a degree of drought. Leave it alone and it can survive and look attractive without any watering at all.

Friday, September 14, 2018

Crows Nest Community Nursery
Open Day
Saturday 6 October
8.00am to 2.00pm

It has now been scientifically proven that trees keep the area where they grow cooler (by 2-3°) and make more rain.
(See )
You can be part of the process.
Any old trees will do the job.
At the same time, you could be helping our local environment, and growing the plants that attract our local birds, butterflies, and other wildlife.

For this, what you need are "indigenous" plants - those plants that are native to your own patch of Australia.
Crows Nest Community Nursery specialises in growing the native plants of the Toowoomba Region, from seed and cutting of local provenance.
These plants are suitable for local gardens, as street and park trees, and for farm plantings and revegetation work.


To find the Nursery: 
Approaching Crows Nest from the south (i.e. from the Toowoomba direction), slow down at the 80 sign and take the first turn right into Industrial Avenue.
Follow the green street signs (which say NURSERY).  
For more information, call 131872

Volunteering at the Nursery
 Much of the work that keeps the Crows Nest Community Nursery going is done by volunteers. 
If you want to do something worthwhile for the local environment, or just to learn more about plants and make new friends, you might consider becoming one of them.
The jobs done include:

  • Seed collecting
  • Preparing seed for planting, or for storage in the seed bank.
  • Planting seed
  • Potting on the little seedlings, into nursery tubes.
  • Putting plants out on the shelves. 
  • Weeding and tidying them as required.
 No expertise is needed. Other volunteers help you to learn on the job. Just bring along a pair of willing hands and a smile.
To join, you can simply turn up on a Thursday and introduce yourself. Alternatively, you can make enquiries by email or phone to the nursery manager, as above.