Working Bees back

At present, there are still some extra restrictions or procedures that still need to be followed as per the email (shown below) sent via Lake Macquarie landcare:

Dear Landcare volunteer,

Following the recent announcement that the state has achieved 80% COVID-19 vaccination status, Landcare activities can recommence as of this Monday, the 18th of October. In line with Public Health Orders and Council’s COVID Risk Assessment, the following controls will be required to be met for all Landcare work sessions.

At the beginning of each work session Team Leaders will need to undertake a tool box talk to discuss these controls.

Required controls:

• Stay at home if unwell or if you have been to a potential exposure site
• Maintain social distancing of 1.5 metres between people
• Wash and/or sanitise hands regularly
• Avoid sharing of tools and practice regular tool cleaning
• No sharing of drink or foods
• No car-pooling outside of household members
• Double vaccination is a requirement to be able to volunteer or Medical exemption if you are unable to be
vaccinated due to medical reasons
• Signing on to the Daily Work Diary indicates that you would be able to demonstrates your vaccination status (or
medical exemption) to an Authorised Officer if required (e.g. Police officer)
• Mask wearing in outdoor environments is optional
• In the event that you or a volunteer receive a positive COVID-19 test result or notification as a close contact
and have been volunteering since exposure
or the exposure occurred at site, you MUST contact NSW Health and the Landcare Resource Centre at the earliest
opportunity, providing names and contact details of all volunteers working on that date
• If you have volunteers or members of the public challenging your presence or these controls – refer them to the
Landcare Resource Centre 4921 0392 or Council on 4921 0333.

If you anticipate you will need any assistance implementing any of these controls, or if you have any concerns, please contact the Landcare Resource Centre.

Unfortunately, I still have a few weeks before my second jab is administered so working bees will have to wait until then but not long now…

Lantana debris experiment

I have often been left with large piles of dead lantana after landcare working bees. Current recommendations is to leave those piles on site to breakdown in time. However, Dick’s creek is (well, it was…) a small reserve with a big lantana infestation. Those piles take up a lot of space that I would prefer to see being used by native flora. Those lantana piles take a long time to break down. I have heard people suggest twelve months is long enough for it all to disappear but I have seen piles remain mostly intact for years (see video below).

Following landcare rules makes the situation more challenging. It can’t be burnt, we can’t bring machinery on site to process it, it can’t be taken off-site, no building compost heaps etc. I have often felt at loggerheads with this issue…

As any gardener would know, a compost will only work when there is enough moisture and I think this explains my issue with lantana. As long as the remaining debris stays strong enough to keep it suspended above the ground and hence able to stay dry, it takes a long time to break down. I needed to get the debris into something that will keep it wet. So, what I am trying at present and what I show in the video below, is an experiment to see if combining dead lantana with more fleshy green leafy weeds will hasten the composting process. I am hoping it will.

I picked a few locations, ‘Site A’ being one of them. I tried to brake down the lantana as much as possible by standing on it and breaking it up with my hands. I then raked nearby tard/wandering willy (there is no shortage unfrotunately) into the pile. Hopefully, with some rain, it will break down and more area will become available for the flora that is meant to be there.

Fingers cross this will work so I will have an approach I can use for any other lantana infestations.

Here are some videos I took to describe the issue and the approach I am using…

Site Inspection – 2021.10.04

Not really a working bee on this day but I did remove some privet on the west side at the top 2nd fall and removed some fishbone fern on the East side.

This video shows the East side of the creek at the top of 2nd falls. It has a small native olive tree clinging to life by growing mostly horizontally from the cliff edge. It has always been forced out by the fishbone ferns growing from the edge.

Fishbone fern has an impressive ability to create its own root structure. It can end up in the most unlikely of places.
I partly removed the fishbone fern to hopefully encourage some other native flora and to hopefully aid the growth of the native olive tree.

Between ‘Site A’ and the creek, I often referred to as ‘Site A extension’. It has been around a year since I did that work and this video shows the progress at that location. There is a large pile of dead lantana which I want to remove somehow and there is some weeds that have popped back up but largely, it is pretty good. In particular, I liked seeing the hairy clerodendrum budding. I have never seen it flower before.

After taking that video I inspected the west bank of the creek. Under No.2’s property. I don’t normally go over the west bank as I decided quite a while ago to focus on the East side first. The west bank was a mixture of good and bad.  There are many natives so we can be confident that the seed bank is in good health. It will be a matter of removing the weeds. In particular, privet along the creek is dominating.

One interesting find was this staghorn fern:

Staghorn on a rock near ground level

It is the first one I had noticed on the reserve. There was also a large birdnest fern nearby which was good to see.

In summary, the west side is in mostly good condition but the privet will need to be treated. That won’t be as easy as it sounds because getting around was very difficult. Lots of barbwire vine and sizeable cliff edge along the bank makes traversing the area quite difficult.

 

Working Bee – 18.09.2021

I got a few hours of lantana bashing in on Saturday…

The main pile of lantana at the end of the day.

Mostly I focused on the lantana near the creek towards the rear of the reserve. I had cleared the creek edge previously and this led to some natives taking off. The usual bleeding hearts and sandpaper figs but also a lilly pilly amongst others. Still, I hadn’t moved far from the edge of the creek and the lantana was threatening a return. I put an end to that…

Sandpaper figs free from lantana

That spot was chockers with lantana but now those  sandpaper fig saplings towards the center of the photo should have a good headstart.

I am having to consider where people will walk when an area is cleared. There appears to be enough people going through the reserve now to make a difference. Not a bad thing but something to keep in mind in case some more fragile plants could be damanged. I left some privet and debris to deter people using this area. Easily removed when the saplings become big enough to not be easily walked on.

Just enough debris to deter would be walkers. They can go the usual way…

Here is a summary video I took at the end of the day. Poor quality unfortunately…

That fern tree that can be seen in the video is another win as well. More of those, yes please.

Working Bee – 12.09.2021

A quick session today. Actually classified as exercise rather than bush regeneration 🙂

Once again, just pushing back on lantana. I came across a large sandpaper fig tree that I had previously freed up from lantana. It had since then, fallen over but it continues to thrive. It had once again started to provide structure for the surrounding lantana. I removed the offending lantana and also bits of privet.

Sandpaper fig after I had cleared off the lantana.

I will need to come back to this spot as there is various promising saplings which need defending.

Here is a summary video I did of the site after clearing the fig.

Working Bee – 18.04.2021

It was a late start for Sunday’s working bee but it still turned out to be a productive day.

Mist flower is popping up again in numbers. Grrrr. I am not sure if that one will ever completely disappear.  It seems fairly well established in the seedbank. Some of the plants grow in very difficult to access locations so they do not get removed as quickly as I would prefer.

One win I noticed on the weekend is the false bracken fern on the East bank after first fall. I had noticed a few struggling bracken ferns amongst the fishbone fern about twelve months ago. I cleared around those and they expanded and I cleared around that and it has expanded again. It appears the false bracken fern is very capable at taking on the fishbone fern. when it gets a chance.

Another win was a dead camphor laurel tree which the green team had dealt with in their last visit. A bunch of privet was also killed via glyphosate. I typically avoid using herbicides but then, I tend to end up with situations as seen at ‘Glen’s alley’ which has a troubling number of privet saplings and trees springing up.

Many privet saplings can be seen in the foreground
Cabbage tree palm and poison peach seen here will be crowded out by next year if privet is not held in check
In the adjacent areas, not yet cleared, privet and lantana dominate.

My original intention was to start on the area in the photo above but instead, I learned a large, dead, rotting tree had finally fallen. I had noticed it a long time ago and was amazed it was still standing given the amount of rot at the base. Finally it has come down.

Looking at the base of the tree, it boggles the mind how it was standing at all.
There was a lot of burnt pieces lying around. Hopefully from a fire long ago and not from someone doing anything silly.
It was once a very large tree. A substantial portion of it landed on the other side of the creek. Very lucky that it did not take out anything notable.

 

Rather than let the lantana close in on the vacated space, I thought I would open up the area for the nearby sandpaper fig trees which are sure to appreciate the extra light.

The privet tree holding my bag was previously scaffolding for lantana. I will still need to remove more from that tree.
Sandpaper fig on the left should now get much more light. I will be surprised if I don’t see some natives popping up here within the next 12 months.
This lantana pile looks larger than it is. I use the sea of lantana to keep the cleared lantana off the ground.

I have a long list of areas that need attention so I will need to get to work a bit earlier next week. That privet beckons me…

Working Bee – 10.03.2021

It was a productive day. After working on a small amount of palm grass before first fall, I decided to finally help out the gardia growing between the first and second falls. Gardia has been growing well but it is still having to compete with a lot of fishbone fern and some ginger lilly.

Here it is before trying to thin out the fishbone fern…

You can see in the image that the gardia (the tall grass seen in the center of the image), is getting above the fishbone fern but it is not very numerous. As I started weeding the fishbone fern I found a lot more gardia that was just too small to get to the light and hence were not looking very healthy.

After spending half an hour or so removing fishbone fern, the gardia now has a lot more space to expand and young shoots should now be able to grow above the fern. The image below shows the spot after weeding. I tried to use some judgement as to how much I should remove. I would not want to allow erosion to take place. Fast flowing water can cover the area if there is heavy rain.

A hairy clarodendrum I walk past when going to site A is being attached by these guys…

It was a straight forward lantana and privet removal after this point. No photos to show because I was too tired afterwards. I starting an area requiring maintenance but then expanded on that to clear a good section under ‘Site A’.

One concern is a lot of plants showing a brown discolouration. I am hoping it has to do with the extra light coming through after a large gum was removed in a nearby residence but that does not seem to match. I noticed it on some bleeding hearts and most notably, on the giant tree fern along the creek after second falls. Hopefully it is not a big deal but it is a concern at present. Might need to ask the experts at lakemac landcare.

 

Working Bee – 06.03.2021

Last week’s successful attack on lantana motivated me to do the same thing again this time. However, as is often the way, walking to the desired location is full of distractions that were too hard to ignore.

Just off the road, at the entrance of the reserve, buffalo grass dominates the area. Scurvy weed seems to give it a run for its money but it has a long way to go before it could ever take this nasty grass on. Here is an example of what I am referring to…

So before descending to the gully after first falls, I did some minor maintenance. I pushed back the grass and removed the mist flower that was bothering any of the blue flax lilly or scurvy weed. Unfortunately, some spots are quite risky to reach. They will have to wait until I determine a safer way to continue.

This was before doing some weeding. See if you can spot the blue flax lilly.

One positive I noticed on the way to my selected target was a section of scurvy weed doing battle with wandering jew and swedish ivy. I gave it a helping hand by clearing a square metre or so around it. Hopefully it takes the opportunity to expand.

On the left, the undesirable swedish ivy. On the right, the almighty scurvy weed (and probably some wandering willy as well unfortunately).

Higher up is dominated by wandering willy. I intend to see how a rake goes with it.

I moved along the west bank between the first and second falls. Anywhere I saw a native being crowded out, I cleared around it. It still all looks very messy but I have to accept, it is a gradual process.

Still, looking back, upto the first falls, it is a pretty sight, even with all the weeds still dominating the area.

Another win…I believe it is a birdnest fern just above second falls.

After taking this photo I found another half a dozen on the other side. Looking good!

Finally, I got to the site I intended on in the first place. After a good couple of hours, I had cleared another good section of lantana that was crowding out various natives (Sandpaper fig in particular).

One other native I am seeing more of is the wombat berry vine. After asking for an id, I have discovered the narrow leaved vine in this picture is Geitonoplesium Cymosum, otherwise known as scrambling lilly. Good to see more natives springing up.

Next week I intend on doing the same. Attacking the lantana under site A (behind No.14 Grn Val Rd). Anywhere I find some natives gets priority and it does seem there are many natives struggling to stay alive.

 

Working Bee – 27.02.2021

Dick’s Creek had a visit from the green team from the lake macquarie landcare resource center during the week. Many hands make light work and that was definitely the case on the day. Some good progress was made on the day despite delays due to rain. While there on the day I noticed some sections done previously had sprung back. Namely lantana and privet as usual. I have been quite  taken back by the speed that everything is growing at present. Rain is great for all the plants, weeds included unfortunately.

Yesterday, I had a chance to get some guards around the Cheese saplings I planted a month or so ago.

Everything is looking super green at present. Maiden hair along the cliff face next to the first falls has never been so abundant.

Palm grass is looking a bit too healthy at various places along the creek. At placed, I need to consider erosion control. When the water flows fast, it takes anything that is loose down stream so sometimes it is just better to leave some weeds in place for this reason. Here is what I am describing…

Further along, I am pushing back the swedish Ivy as various ferns show up. Hopefully it is a case of slowly does it. Things are looking much better but it can all go backwards quickly if I don’t keep an eye on it.

A trail that I often used that leads from the second falls around to site A was enveloped by fishbone fern. Impressive. Annoying but still impressive. I cleared the trail. This video shows the area and also one of the areas done by the green team.

Also done by the the green team and I last Tuesday…

Continuing on from that section I cleared lantana and privet back down the creeks edge (which still needs some serious privet treatment).

Here is the summary of the day which I try to do for each working bee. It was a good day…

 

Working Bee – 10.01.2021

A great day to get some maintenance done today. Accompanied with my eight year old daughter, Ella, we pushed back the lantana which is unfortunately loving the recent rain as much as the natives.

Ella found a relatively mature bleeding heart tree today.

 

It had clearly had a hard time not too long ago as the main trunk was broken off but a side branch was thriving and the tree was bearing fruit. A great find by Ella.