renowned author on
water gardening including
Editor, Australian Water Gardener
Water gardening in Australia continues to grow steadily. I am
delighted to see Water
Garden Paradise Nurseries, Bass Hill, New South Wales pioneer
in embracing the recently introduced Truly Named program launched
by Water Gardeners International. In recent years, the team at
Water Garden Paradise have made great progress extending the
range of waterlilies available to gardeners in Australia. This
includes not only new introductions of tropical cultivars from
North America, but also some old favourites familiar to northern
hemisphere gardeners, such as Graziella. Marliac
introduced this in 1904, but until recently has not been widely
available in Australia.
Another great pioneer in popularizing water gardening in Australia,
and introducing its water gardeners to new plants is Sheila Tierney
of Waterlily Acres, Canungra, Queensland. Great champions of
water gardening, Sheila and daughter Nicola promote the hobby
at every opportunity, especially with their colorful and informative
web site. Sadly, owing to ill health, they must sell Waterlily
Acres. We all hope that someone as enthusiastic as Sheila and
Nicola acquires the property and takes the nursery into the future
as successfully as the Tierney family have done.
Many members are enthusiastic about irises. Amongst the
irises suitable for waterside planting, some of the finest belong
within the Louisiana hybrids. One of the finest nurseries developing
these beautiful flowers is Iris Haven in New South Wales. Heather
and Bernard Pryor operate this growing enterprise. Previously
they experienced some difficulty reliably providing the northern
hemisphere with their new introductions. They are resolving this
problem according to their recently announced co-release program
with Iris City Gardens, Primm Springs, Tennessee in the United
States. Now they plan to release lovely new cultivars, like their
2006 introduction Susannah Fullerton, simultaneously
in both the northern and southern hemispheres
Image courtesy of Iris Haven
I am pleased to learn of recent provisions under the latest
Approved Wildlife Trade Management Plan for the flora of Queensland,
regarding native Australian Aponogeton species. Their collection
in the wild, except under a scientific permit, is strictly prohibited;
their use for commercial purposes is banned. We really should
learn how to grow these interesting aquatics successfully, and
then establish proper production for the aquatic garden and aquarium
trade, much as has been done in Turkey in collaboration with
the Dutch bulb industry, for the sustainable production of hardy
Cyclamen species. The local population derives income from growing
the plants rather than collecting them from the wild. They produce
a sufficient number of plants to meet market demand.
Although unlikely to become a particularly desirable addition
to the water garden, I nevertheless happily report that one of
Australias rarest swamp gum trees is proposed for the endangered
plant species list, and therefore much better protection. A small
tree, the Mount Compass Swamp Gum, Eucalyptus paludicola, grows
12-30 feet (3.7-9.1 meters) high with broadly lance-shaped foliage.
It displays smooth gray or creamy bark on the upper branches
and bears distinctive gum nuts borne in clusters of seven. Endemic
to the Fleurieu Peninsula and Kangaroo Island in South Australia,
it grows in fragmented populations in wet or waterlogged soils.
While on the subject of naturally occurring aquatic species,
two great news items show that Australia really pushes forward
to conserve its wetlands and native aquatic flora. The most significant
is that the Kakadu Draft Management plan for Kakadu National
Park, home of some of Australias rarest aquatic plants,
is presently being finalized for submission to the Minister of
Environment and Heritage. The new plan, when approved, will guide
management in the park for the next seven years.
The second item proves equally rewarding. Wetlands Centre
Australia in the lower Hunter Valley shares the 2005 Ramsar Education
Award with Ms. Reiko Nakamura from the Ramsar Centre in Japan.
The award recognizes international excellence in communication,
education, and public awareness about wetlands and their communities.
Hearty congratulations go to the Centre and all its volunteers.
< Wetlands Centre Australia
celebrates Ramsar Award
Image courtesy of Ramsar
Finally, I must add an item that I believe could only come from
Australia. As we well know, the greatest man-made environmental
disaster to strike our continent has been the introduction of
the cane toad. Originally brought in to clean up bugs in the
sugar cane crop in northern Queensland, it now multiplies across
much of Australia, displacing other amphibians and ruining many
natural wetland ecosystems.
Very difficult to control, the public have resorted to a number
of forms of trapping and disposal that the Royal Society for
the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals do not approve of as being
humane. In Darwin, the RSPCA have implemented a unique initiative.
They have teamed up with Coopers Brewery and the Cavenagh Hotel
to encourage the more civilized treatment of these pests. Toad
collectors now exchange their catch for vouchers, which in turn
they redeem for a free beer at the hotel. At the time of this
writing, collectors have handed in 250 toads.
1 toad = 1 beer