Park News – September, 2017

Sprinter and Sprummer

  • One of the perks associated with being on our park’s Advisory Committee is that Whitehorse Council invites representatives from the parks and indigenous nurseries in the municipality to an annual function called the Parkland Community Forum.  Our contribution to the booklet produced for the event was a discussion of our photopoints project which featured in our June web news.
  • It is a networking opportunity and Council usually engages an expert and entertaining speaker. This year’s speaker was no exception – we enjoyed a talk from Professor Tim Entwisle, director and CEO of the Royal Botanic Gardens.  He argued his case that, coming from a botanical point of view, the traditional (European) four seasons in the southern half of Australia (summer, autumn, winter and spring) are not a good fit.  Instead, we should have five seasons with two “Springs” Sprinter (an amalgam of “spring” and “winter”) and Sprummer (“spring” and “summer” as you’ve probably guessed).  He also sees his summer being longer and both autumn and winter being shorter.

  • He used a diagram like the above (based on a diagram in Australian Geographic) to show the relationship of his seasons to the traditional European point of view.  We’ve  also added our planting season for interest – which, not surprisingly, mostly coincides  the availability of moisture for our young plants and cooler days.
  • Tim’s talk was thought provoking and interesting – though this year’s Sprinter seems to have been indistinguishable from Winter!  Tim has written a book on the subject (Sprinter and Sprummer: Australia’s Changing Seasons) if you’d like to know more.
  • Interestingly, Tim mentioned that he has shared his ideas with the well known Alan Reid who developed comparable conclusions from a different starting point (natural history observations).   Alan was on our committee for many years and was a prime mover in initiating our photopoints project mentioned earlier.  He also did some other innovative work in the park including leading Honeyeater walks and a butterfly survey in the 1980s.

Working Bee Report

  • Eleven friends of the park and committee members were able to get 295 grasses, wildflowers and shrubs planted along the path in what is a highly visual site in Furness Park on the northeastern side of the creek near the Main Street bridge.  We thank new participants Kathryn, Rosemary, Caroline and Peter for working with us to help ensure a great morning’s outcome.
  • We were very pleased that Arthur, our real-estate guru, was able to rejoin us for morning tea as he normally does.
  • The planting must have been quite efficient because there was time for a significant amount of weeding as well!  It fills out and extends planting we did at the site near the bridge last year.
  • We owe Council a special vote of thanks too.  Margaret, from Parkswide, delivered a couple of loads of mulch on the preceding Friday in time for it to be spread before the day’s planting.
  • Our lucky last working bee for this year is planned for Saturday October 7th. We’ve book-ended the 2017 working bees with Saturday bees so as to enable contributions from those who usually have Sunday commitments.  We will be weeding a patch below Waratah Crescent where we planted last year near the creek.  Easiest access is from Waratah Crescent  Now we have entered Sprummer, the conditions usually become too dry to continue planting.

Maintenance Report

  • We expect minor works to be carried out in the Waratah Wetlands and surrounding area in association with Council drainage and street works in Laurel Grove North and Linum Street as those roads leave the private domain.
  • Our congratulations to Mary – our Maintenance Team and Working Bees coordinator – on the completion of another very successful planting season.  The Maintenance Team planted 1,402 plants and another 1,125 were planted at community working bees -totalling 2,527 plants for 2017.  Mary plans the planting areas and schedule, orders the plants in advance (our orders are being made now), collects them when ready from the nurseries, tends and waters them while sites are being prepared, readies them for planting, delivers them to the work sites, manages the people doing the planting at working bees, plants many herself and finally collects and washes the tubes for return to the nurseries!  Although she’d say she gets some help along the way, her efforts are extraordinary and the park is so much better for them!   
  • Plans for 2018 by the maintenance crew are underway with the public working bees to include:
    • Areas at the rear of Molleton Street in Kalang Park – where Monterey Pine trees were removed earlier this year.
    • Furness Park north of the creek – further planting along the path continuing last month’s working bee area and also in the plot further north.
    • Blacks Walk – further along Scout Hall that we didn’t complete this winter.
  • Practical Ecology is a Council contractor which conducts park maintenance work in a few specific areas of the Creeklands (such as the “Frog Bog”) and also at Blackburn Lake Sanctuary.   Nichola, one of its highly respected and long-term employees, has found another position after many years of service to the Creeklands.  We wish her all the best for her future career and thank her for her contributions to our park.


  • There is some colourful spring flowering happening at present.  The Middleborough Road entrance is looking very vibrant with the flowering Flat-peas (yellow and red), Hop Bitter-pea (yellow and brown) as well as Parrot-peas (yellow and red) thriving.  Soon, the Pale Vanilla (pale mauve), Bulbine (yellow) and Chocolate (blue to violet) Lily flowers will appear.
  • Our keenest bird spotters are out looking for Tawny Frogmouth nests and evidence of any new arrivals.  Easier said than done – as Ruth’s photos below show:
  • how we are eagerly awaiting the flowers of the Arthropodiums () to open then the Bulbine lillies so as well as the Arthropodium stricta (chocolate lily) to blossom with their delightful little voilet flowers).

  • One missing sighting this year (so far) is any ducklings in the park!  One theory is that the bad diesel oil spill into the creek is responsible.  For those suffering cuteness withdrawal symptoms, we include Ruth’s photo of a family with recent additions taken at the Blackburn Triangle – corner Blackburn and Canterbury Roads (at least within our Corridor!):

Plant of the Month

  • Plant of the Month is Golden-tip or Clover Tree (Goodia lotifolia).  It is a fast-growing large shrub in the pea family growing to 4 metres.  It has blue-green “trifoliate” leaves looking rather like clover.

  • It is flowering beautifully in the park now having yellow flowers with red parts.  Seed pods follow flowering, mostly 23–28 mm long on long stems.
  • The plant often “spreads” by suckering new shoots from the ground around its periphery – making it quite good for a loose hedge in the garden.

Weed of the Month

angled onion

  • Weed of the Month is Angled Onion (Allium triquetrum).   No, it’s not “native snow bells” or some such – as this author is ashamed to say he thought until having had some experience with the Monday/Thursday Maintenance Team – it’s quite an invasive weed native to southwest Europe and northwest Africa.
  • At this time of year (late winter and spring), it is flowering with white bell flowers and has a small bulb at its base when dug up. On close inspection, its stems have three acute angles and has an obvious onion-like smell (hence the name). It spreads by seed and bulb division.
  • For gardeners who use Glycosophate spray, the plant is practically immune until the flowers appear. It’s best to simply dig it out – including the bulbs.
  • For the more adventurous, but don’t take our word for it, the plant is supposed to be edible!  A couple of brave souls have taken samples from our weed piles home to try…

In the Corridor

  • Our good friends from the Blackburn and District Tree Preservation Society won the Victorian Urban Landcare Award 2017 in recognition of their book Fighting for the Trees – which tells the Society’s story from its inception in 1959 thru to 2016.   We told you it was good in our May news!  Congratulations to David, our Mary and others from the society involved.  State winners proceed as finalists to the 2018 National Landcare Awards – we should cross our fingers for them!
  • A little bird has told us that Friend Ken has been awarded the Birdlife Australia John Hobbs Medal for outstanding contributions to Australasian ornithology by an amateur ornithologist. Ken has played a very significant role in studying our shorebird migrations in the East Asian – Australasian Flyway and publicizing the threats our migrating birds increasingly face eg from the industrialization of wetlands in Korea and China.  Congratulations and well-deserved Ken!

Current Noticeboard Display

  • Our current Noticeboard display features a poster containing photos and descriptions of the flowering plants to be seen in the parks of Whitehorse (thanks Blackburn and District Tree Preservation Society!).

  • On the obverse are some interesting old photos of the construction of Pakenham Street and the bridge over our creek in 1962 (thanks Frances!).

Events and Notices for Your Diaries

  • Working Bee – As mentioned earlier, our lucky last working bee for this year is planned for this coming Saturday, 7th October at 09:00.


  • Why not come to work with us on our last working bee for this year if you can?
  • If not, please join us for morning tea at about 10:30 anyway….
  • Bird Survey – Our next Bird Count will be Saturday, 21st October at 07:30.


  • We meet at the Scout Hall in Pakenham Street – near Laburnum Primary School.
  • Please see our Bird Counts page for further information.


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