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Queenscliffe Herald Article - June 2005

Local Rare Plants

Some previously rare indigenous species are now being propagated by the Swan Bay Environment Association (SBEA) community nursery and are available to the public in small numbers.

A report written by Mark Trengove in 1992 identified the location of indigenous plant species across the Borough, some of which he only found at Ballara, a Point Lonsdale property that was once the holiday home of Alfred Deakin and has remained in the family.

SBEA received funding from the Department of Sustainability and Environment to propagate some of these species, and although propagation has only been undertaken over the last year we are already starting to get some good results.

One of our SBEA members recently wrote in a letter to us “I am so glad to see that the plant species at Ballara are being recorded and endeavours made to propagate them. I have fond memories of Ballara, having taken part in their annual nativity plays in the late 1920s and early 1930s which were held in a bush theatre on the property”. Being in the Deakin family since this time and remaining relatively untouched, Ballara has remained a haven for some of the plants that once would have been more widespread in the Point Lonsdale area.

One of the more well-known species that we have grown is the Oyster Bay Pine. Mark Trengove writes that as this tree has been known as a local plant in Point Lonsdale for many generations, with historical references to the “pines” growing at Ballara, this can be regarded as a member of the local flora. A tall, slender pine, the Oyster Bay Pine makes a good garden plant.

Grass Trees have also been propagated by seed from Ballara, but although we have had a good strike rate, these slow-growing plants will not be available for sale at the nursery for a couple of years.

Another plant that seems to be establishing well is the Hairy Pennywort. This is a ground cover with small, round, hairy leaves and small green flowers. Although fragile at first, when the autumn rain arrived these started to put on growth from the root stock. Other plants that we have started to plant out are Tassel Rope Rush, a small attractive rush with cylindrical leaves that have bands of green and rusty-red, Variable Sword Sedge and Common Flat Pea (which sounds a lot more appealing by its botanical name of Platylobium obtusangulum – the second part of this name referring to the shape of its leaves). This plant flowers in spring and has very attractive y ellow and red pea flowers.

As we expand the areas in which these plants are grown by planting them throughout the Borough, we increase the long-term viability of these species. If for any reason they were lost at Ballara, these species would not be lost forever to our local area. If you would like to see some of these species, come and visit the SBEA community nursery on the third Sunday of the month from 10-12 am.

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