Park News – May, 2018

Our long dry spell has finally broken!

  • Ruth’s photo shows a recently showered, suitably smiling and refreshed King-parrot in the park.  Our park’s plants have benefited from a good drink and the park is looking noticeably greener and happier!  The conditions are, thankfully, now allowing us to plant – quite a deal later than usual.
  • The moisture has also finally allowed our fungi to “fruit” too – which Ruth’s macro photos show some of the smaller varieties in glorious detail:

  • Recently, the media has emphasised that many of our fungi are poisonous, even lethal, so park users should not collect, eat, or otherwise consume mushrooms and other fungi growing in the park.  Not so long ago, a woman passed away after eating mushrooms picked in a park in Box Hill – unfortunately, she was with a group who thought they looked like a variety they knew.   Parents should be particularly vigilant in relation to children in this respect.  Just in case:  the Poison Information Centre’s phone number is 13 11 26.

First Community Working Bee for 2018

  • Our first community working bee for 2018 was a great success.  Given the weather conditions before and after, we were extremely lucky to have a beautiful sunny morning – which helped us get a lot done preparing for planting at our next working bee.   Our photo shows the team having a “well earned” at about 10:30AM and the weeded and mulched area to the right.  If you’re not able to work these days, please come along at that time on working bee days for a cuppa anyway!
  • We’re seen wearing so many fluoros because we were were working close to our busiest path – not necessarily because we’re trying to look the part!  We were pleased to welcome many stalwarts back and also to have several new participants who proved to be great contributors on the day.  Our thanks to all who donated their time and effort to help improve our park.
  • We started weeding out Angled Onion and mulching – so we can start actual planting into the Maze at our next working bee on Sunday, June 3rd.  Once that work was completed, we split into two groups – one to tackle an entrenched, diabolical Periwinkle infestation nearby, the other to spread mulch at the end of Gardenia Street in Furness Park.
  • Ruth managed to get this wonderfully clever shot with our sign and a Mr Mudlark attesting to artist Nicolas Day’s skills :

  • Of course, she soon outdid herself – managing to get both Mr and Mrs Mudlark in another shot! (the males have the white “eyebrows”)…  We understand Ruth did quite a bit of weeding too!  A truly awesome performance!

Corridor News

  • Working Bees have restarted “Below the Lake” too.  They’re good friends of ours and meet at “The Cage” below the lake in Lake Road on every second Saturday afternoon – their next working bee will be 9th June from  2-4PM.
  • Please take a hat – they have gloves and tools etc.  For further information, please call Lynette on 0437 294 337.  They’d be delighted to welcome new folk!

Darcy Duggan Visits the Creeklands

  • Darcy Duggan (second from left) is a well-known educator and field specialist in bushland care. His home turf is in the Dandenongs where he is a member of a Landcare group and he also instructs and conducts field trips for groups such as Greening Australia.
  • We invited him to a four-hour “Walk-Through” visit through the Creeklands – especially to gain his advice on weed management in riparian situations eg where weeding can cause creek bank erosion.  Our “Walk-Through” started at Blackburn Road in Furness Park and concluded in Blacks Walk – traversing much of the park.
  • This also functioned as a kind of peer review of our work and exploited Darcy’s knowledge on techniques, indigenous plants and weeds.  Darcy proved very articulate, educative and knowledgeable – he was free with his advice and happy to share his experience.
  • Darcy’s impressions of the park in general were very positive. He was very impressed by the absence of weeds in the reveg areas in Furness Park and into Kalang Park. He also particularly admired our mature Yellow Box canopy trees – something becoming rare in his experience.   However, he does recommend we increase emphasis on planting herbaceous plants such as grasses and wildflowers now that the canopy and mid-stories are going quite well.
  • It proved to be a very enjoyable and information-packed afternoon – our picture shows the pretty well tuckered-out group at the end of the walk.

Change to the Billabong Controls

  • Our seemingly natural Billabong is not usually fed from the creek… unless the creek breaks its banks.  Its normal supply comes from storm-water run-off from Kalang and Malcolm Streets – simulating former overland flows.
  • To achieve that, we tapped into a pit nearby to the south of the Billabong which formerly only handled the junction of the street flows.  We added a new outlet pipe to feed the Billabong.

  • The pit is about 2m deep.  Basically, the way it works is that water has to get deep enough to flow over a small fence (currently about 150mm high) before it can flow into the Billabong.  This means that the “first flows” from the street gutters, that are most likely to contain pollutants (such as oils from the roads), go directly to the creek as they used to.  Once the water level in the pit gets high enough, water will flow over the fence to the Billabong as well.  If the Billabong system eventually fills, it overflows to the creek.
  • By watching the behaviour of water flows to the Billabong and to the creek, our local sleuths realised that the system was not working as intended.  Following contact with Council’s ParksWide, the pit was opened and the problem was revealed – to be corrected soon after.
  • Naturally, we are very keen to protect those magnificent trees around the Billabong.  From now on, they’ll definitely miss the potentially polluted “first flows” and, most likely, not see quite as much water  – the Billabong will become more “ephemeral” (as was intended).

Maintenance Team Report

  • In other news from the Maintenance Team, woody weed and Jasmine removal has been completed around the  entrance to the park to the west of Laurel Grove South and along the fence line towards Sheehans Road.
  • A rambling rose and Nandina along the fence line at the back of Haydn Street was also heavily cut back with the neighbour’s encouragement.
  • Reasonably intensive planting has been done at the Blackburn Road end of the park along the northern creek bank and alongside the Blackburn Road footpath.  In-fill planting has also occurred in the established areas along Heath Street.

Sightings

  • The Black She-oak (Allocasuarina littoralis) at the western end of the chain-mesh fence between the Scout Hall and the creek is flowering again as Megan’s photo shows.  The flowers eventually become the woody cones shown in the foreground.
  • We’ve been informed of reliable Rakali sightings – one particularly good one being in Blacks Walk in the creek between the pedestrian bridge and the treated pine log fence further east.  Please see our November, 2015 web-news if you’d like to learn more and see what one looks like.
  • We’ve already mentioned the long suppressed fungi everywhere you look at the moment!

Plant of the Month

phragmites

  • Plant of the Month is the Common Reed (Phragmites Australis).  The Common Reed is widespread throughout temperate and tropical regions of the world.
  • The photo shows it growing in a silty area along the creek near Kalang Oval.  It grows in wet places – especially at the edge of ponds and streams and in tidal waters. It can grow to 6 metres tall and is flowering in the park at the moment.
  • It provides important habitat for birds and other native fauna.  It is an important contributor to erosion control and can also assist in pollution abatement.  It spreads from rhizomes which grow quite deeply.  We are experimenting with transplanting it for the protection of areas subject to erosion when the creek floods.

Weed of the Month

  • Weed of the Month is Jasmine (Jasminum polyanthum).  It is an evergreen twining climber native to China and Myanmar (Burma).  Gardeners here like it for its ability to climb over fencing or walls to create screening, and, some also like its strongly-scented pink-backed, white flowers which appear late winter and in spring.   The flowers are also used to flavour teas.  In Australia, the plant has become “naturalized” and is regarded as an invasive species.
  • We’ve included it this month following our discussions about recent park maintenance earlier.  A park neighbour had planted Jasmine to perform an admirable job of screening a fairly small wire mesh fence.  Unfortunately, the plant escaped into the park by running along the ground getting “under the radar” of the park’s mowers.   When it reached shrubs and trees (up to 10 meters away), it then climbed up into them commencing to smother its hosts to mid-storey level.  The stems can also layer thickly to form a dense ground cover, suppressing the growth of indigenous seedlings.
  • We would have removed at least 3 cubic meters of the run-away plant…

That’s all from us – don’t forget your brolly!

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