Dependent on the weather, this weekend should be good for another Working Bee. If you would like to volunteer some time for Bush Regeneration at Dick’s Creek Landcare, please let me know via the contact page.
Was able to do a solid 3hrs on the Saturday which felt quite productive. Great day for bush regeneration with a cloudy day keeping it quite cool and previous rains making the soil easy to work with.
We have had a lot of rain so everything is growing well at the moment.
Including the weeds unfortunately. The track from second fall that I normally use had been swallowed by fishbone ferns.
So that was a good place to start… I looked through the fishbone fern for any natives and cleared around those. I found pittosporums, false bracken, blue flax lilly and others who were all doing their best to stay above the fishbone fern. I have done this multiple times now and each time the desired native plants get more numerous and larger. It is all heading in the right direction.
A native olive tree that I had previous cleared around is doing well with new growth showing but no new shoots closer to the cliff were visible. Still, other natives were taking advantage so that’s a win.
Notice the blue flax lilly and elderberry panax in the bottom left corner…
After this I moved down the lower creek section and pushed back lantana around a stand of bracken that I have posted about previously. Unfortunately the rain came in so no photos.
There are many seedlings of desired species popping up at present. Another two years will see a transformation I believe.
One last thing I could not resist taking a photo of was this spider. A beautiful specimen I thought… A golden orb spider I have been informed.
I’m looking forward to next weekend. My intention is to once again look for natives that need some more space to grow but there is also an infestation of Swedish Ivy that needs attention. It has been disturbing to see it popping up in more and more places.
Was able to get another 3 or so hours in this afternoon. I took the weedpuller down with me to help with some privet but in the end, I didn’t get to the section I intended to work on (nothing new there…).
Palm grass has been getting ignored for the last six months or so and it was showing. Multiple spots where it was getting far too healthy. So I tried the weedpuller out on the palm grass and surprisingly, it made easy work of it. I expect it depends on how soft the ground is but as it was, it made easy work of most of it (easier than a mattock at least). I dared not clear all of it in case it was holding the bank together but I did enough to keep the shade off the nearby cheese tree sapling.
I was disturbed to find the tree fern near first fall was in dire straights. I hope it makes it. It seems that removing the camphor laurel has just allowed too much light to reach it. Fingers crossed that it adjusts to having more light for a while.
Once again, I decided to help out the Gahnia by picking on the fishbone fern. Not removing all of the fishbone fern but rather, just thinning it out and breaking off any large fronds. It is a slow process but it seems to be working. I hope the area along the creek between first and second falls will end up being mostly Gahnia.
Another inspection at the top of 2nd falls shows the Swedish Ivy really taking off.
On the positive side, the area has a variety of desired species doing well
I do need to address the Swedish Ivy issue but today I only got to the a couple of privet trees and some camphor laurels. A productive day though.
Had a chance to get some more done at Dick’s creek for the first time in the new year.
As always, I deviated away from my original target after noting some weeds on the way. On the lower west bank of first fall I noticed a healthy stand of Croften weed & mistflower.
Not surprising of course considering that these invasives dominated the spot a few years ago. It didn’t take long to do some maintenance to get rid of most of it. This area is doing well mostly. Native ferns and trees are growing stronger and the weeds are having a harder and harder time.
I videoed progress while I was there…
I took some video at ‘Site A’ and also after manually removing some lantana behind 16 Green Valley Rd. I took some more photos and video of an issue I have with lantana rafts taking too much space. I am convinced that most bush regeneration advice is aimed at large sites where rafts can be built and forgotten. However, as there so much lantana at Dick’s creek and the site is relatively small, I find those piles of dead lantana take up too much space so I have tried a few options to speed up the breakdown. Firstly, I was spreading out the dead branches rather than piling them. Normally this is not done as it is possible the branches will reroot but I take this into consideration and find that spreading out the branches is an improvement.
Another approach I have now had success with, is to pile green leafy weeds in with the raft when it is made. It keeps the moisture in contact with the dead branches and hence hastens the process. Key with both approaches is to reduce the size of the branches as much as possible.
Finally, I got to the back of the reserve, near the creek, where I intended to spend most of the time on. Privet is the main issue at this location. I found multiple native saplings taking off at this location so I ended up just trying to keep the privet away from these guys.
In this shot, the pittosporum can be seen. A lot of the surrounding privet has been pulled out and will soon die.
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.
• 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…
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…
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:
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.
I got a few hours of lantana bashing in on Saturday…
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…
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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…