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Radio Round Up October 24-25

Last week we welcomed a decision taken by government to save an iconic Sydney landmark, Wendy Whitely’s Secret Garden. 

This week we lend our support again to a cause that is close to the hearts of Sydney-siders in the northern suburbs, the protection from extensive forest clearing of the Byles Creek Valley, where some of the most endangered birds in the city reside; the Gang Gang and the Powerful owl.

Meet Malcolm, the endangered Powerful Owl living in the Byles Greek Valley, whose home is being threatened by a proposed residential development. Photo - M.Bianchino

In Bloom Now:

Bauhinia purpurea, known as the mountain ebony or orchid tree, are in at their flowering peak right now. These moderately large trees grow to about 10m high, and 5m wide. The flowers, which can look like orchid flowers open and spread their wings quickly, covering the tree in pink, purple and white for most of October. A spectacular display indeed.

The Mountain Ebony in full flower right now. Photo - Yuriy Chertok /

Bush Garden:

There are 365 species and 100 subspecies of grevillea, making grevillea the third largest genus in Australia. Many species attract birds into the garden as they produce huge quantities of nectar. They are so many different colours, shapes and sizes and they flower for an extended period of time, there's so many reasons to grow them. Grow your grevilleas in well drained soils is the key to success. In areas with clay soils you will need to build up the soil to knee height to improve the drainage before the grevilleas will do well! Feed with a specialised native plant food. Prune lightly from day one and often after every flush of flowers to avoid legginess. Pruning a little and often will extend the length of your grevilleas life and create a handsome compact bush. Yes you may need to sacrifice some flowers for the sake of pruning, but they'll quickly bounce back with more.And remember, although native Grevillea may not be well suited to your climatic conditions naturally, the best success will come from growing the hybrid varieties


The Hybrid varieties of grevillea are the best to ensure success. Photo - Linda Ross  


Bug Watch:

It must be frustrating to find that the new Lilly Pilly you have just spent good money on is covered in pimple-like blisters, all over the new spring foliage. Lilly Pilly Psyllid has become an all-too-common affliction on these plants. But there is hope. Good wholesale nurseries are breeding lilly pilly that are naturally resistant to psyllids. In fact, most of the S. smithii hybrids tend to be resistant to Syzygium Leaf Psyllid. Given the successful breeding of natural psyllid resistance in grevilleas it is difficult to understand why some wholesale growers still produce inferior lilly pilly.


Lilly pilly leaf psyllid on new foliage. Photo - 


The Grand Gardens of Europe tour is the best way to see the highlights of a European spring – great flower displays in Holland, France and England including Monet’s Giverny, Kenkenhof’s tulips, the Chelsea Flower Show and so much more. You’ll see Keukenhof, Aalsmeer Flower Market, Het Loo Palace and gardens, Hortus Bulborum, Domaine de Saint-Jean de Beauregard, Jardin Bagatelle, Vaux le Vicomte, Giverny, Wisley, West Green Garden, Sissinghurst, Great Dixter and the Chelsea Flower Show on RHS Members Opening Day.If you would like to enquire about your seat on this tour go to the Ross Tours website, or call Royce or Roslyn at Ross Tours on 1300 233 200. 


The International Garden Tourism Conference Korea 2015: 

Linda is in Korea this week at the International Garden Tourism Conference in Suncheon City. The conference also coincides with the 6th World Tulip Summit, also in Suncheon, which this year is themed ‘Tulips and Tourism’.


Linda caught up with Canberra Floriade's Andrew Foster outside the 6th World Tulip Summit, Suncheon City, Korea 


Loads of Australian gardens have been nominated for awards at the International Garden Tourism Conference, including Floriade in Canberra, and Cranbourne Gardens in Victoria. In the months leading up to the conference we were humbled to learn that the Ross Garden Tours International website was nominated for an award this year. Linda joined me on the line this morning with an update.

Tourism is the world’s fourth largest industry…and Garden Tourism is a significant part of it. “It is now estimated,” says Dr. Richard Benfield, author of ‘Garden Tourism’, and President of the IGTN, “that there are 300 million garden tourists worldwide and significantly more if garden festivals, events and garden shows are included.”

The awards will not be announced in Suncheon until later this afternoon. But we have received a note from the organisers (spoiler alert) that tells us Ross Garden Tours International have taken out 'Garden Tourism Website of the Year'.

Some of the other winners include 'Tulip Destination of the Year' to Bowral Tulip Time, ‘Garden of the Year’ to Cranbourne Gardens in Victoria, ‘Garden Tourism Festival of the Year’ to the Chrysanthemum Festival at Hangzhou Botanic Gardens in China, 'Garden Tourism Event of the Year' to Corso Zundert in the Netherlands, Garden Tourism Experience of the Year - the Moselle Award' to Suncheon Bay National Gardens in Korea, ‘Garden Person of the Year’ to Dr. Kiat W Tan, who headed and steered the development of the Singapore Gardens by the Bay, and the County of Kent, the home of Sissinghurst, has taken out ‘Garden Tourism Destination of the Year’.


Professor Richard Benfield (president of the International Garden Tourism Network), Dr Kiat Tan (winner of the Garden Tourism Person of the Year, from Singapore Gardens By The Bay), and our own Linda Ross, winner of Garden Tourism Website of the Year

Garden News:


Mikey the 2-month-old powerful owl chick at home in the Byles Creek Valley in Sydney. Photo - M.Bianchino


This is Mikey, a very young powerful owl chick born a few months ago in a pocket of forest less than half an hour from the CBD of the biggest city in Australia. Mikey's parents have lived in the same tree-hollow for years. This is quite typical for powerful owls. They are very particular about tree hollows. It takes them a long time to find one thats just right to raise chicks in, and if they lose their chosen home they will not breed again. It's one of the reasons these birds are so rare, and why in Sydney they have become endangered. Lucky for Mikey, his parents have a great neighbourhood in the tall hardwood forest of the  Byles Creek Valley.

But little Mikey has an uncertain future.

A reprieve granted by local council may not be enough to save the habitat of he, and other endangered birds in Mikey's tiny pocket of the northern suburbs of Sydney. The Byles Creek Valley, which adjoins the Lane Cove National Park will have 80% of the large, mature trees removed to establish an asset protection zone around residential development if the project is given the go-ahead. 

And it is the clearing of such a large percentage of this canopy cover that will all but decimate the population of powerful owl and gang gang, both endangered birds, that live in the area.

Locals are now calling for the site to be purchased by the state government to incorporate into adjoining national park as a means of protecting endangered plant and bird species who call the Byles Creek Valley home. Trish Brown is one of the local residents fighting to protect these birds and the Byles Creek Valley where they live.

Trish told us that the environmental impact reports that developers often rely upon to achieve consent at council state that birds impacted by the removal of trees will move on to other trees. This not only increases the competition for limited nesting places in remaining forests, but for birds like the critically endangered gang gang and the powerful owl it means they will no longer breed.Over time this means no more Mikey.

What is wrong with us, and what will our grandchildren think if we let habitat like this be destroyed and lose these birds forever? 


Mikey safe-and-sound in his tree-hollow. Photo - M.Bianchino