Eleven persons, representing six Branches, attended the October 11th meeting of the Conference Subcommittee at the Redcliffe Botanic Gardens. Activities associated with Weed Buster Week and Arbor Day affected the attendance of members from some of the northside Branches, particularly Caboolture Daytime. As a Branch with involvement with other environmental groups, their input would have been valuable.
Barbara Henderson gave a brief history of the Gardens site, a "cow paddock" until 1988. The building was originally the Redcliffe Education Centre, built in 1975, and the meeting venue for the SGAP Branch and the Redcliffe Australian Plants Club until 1992. The group was invited, in 1976, to plant and maintain the grounds, gardens and the adjacent bushland remnant, eventually named the "Johnman/Loveday Nature Trail" to honour two members who devoted hours to the work.
Don Perrin used photographs and diagrams to explain the development of the "Wallum Project" over ten years, to the present Botanic Gardens. Changes in Government administration of Education Centres in the 1980s aroused fears that the "cow paddock" could be sold for housing. A submission was made in 1987 to adopt an ambitious plan by Don, to convert the paddock into an environmental planting of communities of Moreton Region and Redcliffe indigenous species. Several rare plants are also being grown. A walk through the Gardens impressed first-time visitors, and even I was amazed at the growth over the 10 years.
After lunch we had our meeting, discussing Redcliffe's environmental problems and possible solutions, and the usual conclusion was reached, that education at all levels is an urgent priority. The Conservation Subcommittee is seen to be a facilitator and liaison between Branches, rather than a lobby group. Contact with local Councils is vital, as well as the support of other like-minded community groups.
To finish our day, we visited one site of the proposed "Red Cliffs Project", a foreshore cliff at Scarborough, where natural vegetation co-exists with exotic weeds, dumped from gardens or from seeds dropped by birds. The "Red Cliffs Project" will be a joint venture between Redcliffe City Council and Greening Australia Qld. Inc., with Redcliffe SGAP involved.
More details of this meeting and the plants of the Redcliffe Botanic Gardens will be provided in a newsletter to be compiled and sent to Branches. Any individual SGAP members who would like to visit, or obtain information, can contact me on (07) 3289 9272.
More About the Redcliffe Botanic Gardens.
I would like to mention some of the more significant plant species which 'add to the wealth' of the Redcliffe Botanic Gardens.
The Gardens contain the last naturally occurring specimens to be found on the Redcliffe Peninsula of the following 7 species: Banksia robur, Melaleuca sieberi, Patersonia sericea, Persoonia stradbrokensis (syn. P. cornifolia), Acrotriche aggregata, Smilax australis and Xanthorrhoea johnsonii.
Due to the intense urbanisation of the area, conservation of natural assets is difficult and frustrating. Public apathy is seen in both physical and mental approaches to Redcliffe's environmental issues. There are only two small 'green' groups, SGAP and the Peninsula Environment Group. Both are rather quiet groups, but their members persevere with their efforts to create an awareness of what remains of Redcliffe's natural bushland and foreshore vegetation.
Other significant species in the Gardens are: Eucalyptus seeana - the first tree planted in the Wallum Project in 1988 and grown from local provenance seed; Eucalyptus trachyphloia - only a handful left in Redcliffe, and nearly all of them within the Centre grounds; Leptospermum polygalifolium (syn. L. flavescens) - a grove originating from the last wild stand of about 5 plants in Redcliffe - there is genetic diversity with varying leaf shapes, growth habits and bud colour, with some pink and some white.
Plantings since 1988 include: Eucalyptus conglomerata (Swamp Stringybark) - the most endangered eucalypt in Queensland, according to botanist Tony Bean; Cassia marksiana - a threatened species defoliated by Yellow Migrant Butterfly caterpillars every year; Citriobatus linearis - some very compact dense bushes - seed from Campbell's Pocket near Wamuran (west of Caboolture) - an excellent drought-resistant windbreak and nesting habitat for birds; Pouteria eerwah (syn. Planchonella eerwah) - Shiny-leaved Coondoo is one of the most endangered species in Queensland; Secamone elliptica - host plant of the Blue Tiger Butterfly; Melaleuca cheelii - planted in the Wallum area of the Gardens; Citrus australis (syn. Microcitrus australis); Acacia grandiflora - a threatened species with magnificent, large, gold spikes; Acacia caroleae - a lovely shrub with smaller bright yellow spikes; Melodorum leichhardtii (syn. Rauwenhoffia leichhardtii) - Zig-Zag Vine is the host plant of the Pale Blue Triangle Butterfly, females of which are observed from within a metre, laying their eggs - kept as a shrub, it is a very fine specimen; Fontainea oraria is one of the most endangered trees in the world; Cryptocarya foetida - another threatened species; Acacia bakeri, Marblewood, is a threatened species - see came from Mt. Mee; Sowerbaea juncea (Vanilla Lily) - plants rescued from housing development at Marcoola, a coastal, wet wallum area on the Sunshine Coast - flowered for 3 months, set seed, and 3 seedlings have come up; Ozothamnus diosmifolius - some bushes originating from a single plant near Saltwater Creek, Redcliffe, and since destroyed by roadworks; Allocasuarina emuina - an endangered species from the Sunshine Coast and fruiting; Amyema congener (a Mistletoe) is conveniently situated at eye-level on a Callistemon planted on the main track in the Gardens - the life-cycle of the Northern Jezebel Butterfly can be observed on this beautiful parasitic plant.
As can be seen from this list, there are some unusual and interesting plants to be found during a stroll around the Redcliffe Botanic Gardens. Due to Don Perrin's initial vision and planning for a "Wallum Project", a kikuyu-covered cow paddock has evolved into the lovely area it is today. When Redcliffe City Council completed negotiations with the State Government in 1995, and finally took over administration of the whole site, its eventual fate still hung in the balance. However, Don's persistence and dedication has resulted in Redcliffe City having this beautiful Botanic Gardens as an asset. Council now maintains the area with pathways and mowing of the open spaces.
The Garden was planned to 'flow' from rainforest, through wet, then dry sclerophyll forest into a Wallum heath area, then on to Redcliffe indigenous plants and the "Nature Trail". The Gardens contain about 3,000 plants from approximately 250 species and hopefully, will become a showplace for visitors and an educational facility. An ex-teacher in Environmental Education, Don is interested in more than just the plants and wants to share his dream of a wonderful environmental experience with adults and children alike. He sees the Gardens as the perfect place to teach people about the total biodiversity of which we humans are only a part.
The Redcliffe City Council plans to provide facilities to enable the Gardens to be open every day and to set up a Volunteer Guides group with which Redcliffe SGAP hopes to be involved. This should give our Branch a solid background against which to further its work of public education about native plants.
While Redcliffe residents might come and enjoy a walk through the Gardens, many do not have sufficient concern for the remaining natural assets to appreciate the efforts being made to preserve and restore bushland and foreshores. Some are alarmed that planting of low-growing indigenous vegetation along the tops of the foreshore cliffs will result in loss of grassed picnic areas and views across Moreton Bay. It will be hard to convince them that it is necessary to strike a balance between keeping the wonderful views and enhancing the degraded foreshores. They don't mourn the loss of lovely little Hibbertias and other native plants as their habitats are destroyed.
Meanwhile, the Redcliffe Botanic Gardens is a wonderful fulfilment of "another man's dream" and an encouragement to the members of Redcliffe & District SGAP to keep nibbling away at the ignorance and intolerance, while trying to conserve our little bit of Australia.
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