Mooroopna and District Garden Club visit

Members of the Castlemaine Garden Club were pleased to welcome Mooroopna and District Garden Club members to Castlemaine on Tuesday 19 October.  After lunch at the Botanic Gardens, the visitors toured Peter Rotteveel’s garden, then went on to Sally Leversha’s in Castlemaine and ended up at Marion Cooke’s garden at Yapeen where a delicious afternoon tea was enjoyed.  Thanks to Peter, Sally and Marion for making their gardens available and to all the members of the CDGC who made the visitors welcome by participating in the afternoon activities and providing afternoon tea.

Wonderful panoramas at Peter Rotteveel’s property




Enjoying Marion’s beautiful spring garden



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September meeting – Bonsai


Club member and Bonsai enthusiast, Barry Lacey was unable to give a presentation at the September meeting so he kindly arranged for fellow Bonsai expert, Trevor Wheeler, to give a talk on the topic.  Trevor and his wife, Helen, founders of the Goldfields Bonsai group, brought along a number of Bonsai together with various tools and books related to this form of gardening.


Trevor Wheeler


Trevor explained that Bonsai is a Japanese art form using trees and other plants grown in ornamental pots.  The purposes of bonsai are primarily contemplation (for the viewer) and bonsai practice focuses on long-term cultivation and shaping of one or more small trees growing in a container.


Trevor makes his own ornamental pots and uses a variety of tools to shape and trim Bonsai specimens.  Soil preparation is very important and a sieve is used to remove excess dust and other bits and pieces from Bonsai potting mix, before sand is added to the mix.  Soil needs to drain well but also be able to retain moisture.  Bonsai need to be re-potted and fed with special fertiliser at appropriate times of the year.



Club members enjoyed Trevor’s talk, asking many questions with some thinking they may give this art form a try!







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Garden Market

The annual Castlemaine and District Garden Club market will be held on:

Sunday 30 October, 8.00 am to 1.00 pm, opposite the Castle Motel, Duke Street, Castlemaine. 

There will be many stalls selling a variety of plants and garden related items.  Food and drinks will be available.  In addition, a giant raffle of garden goodies will be held.

Please come along and support this fund raising event.

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Burnley Gardens trip

On Wednesday, 24th August 2016, a large, keen group of Garden Club members, travelled by bus – very capably driven by James – to the Burnley Campus of Melbourne University.

A great day was had by all.

After being welcomed by members of the Friends of Burnley we began our tour of the gardens.  We first visited the Rooftop garden which is filled with various succulents and other hardy perennials and was colourful and inspirational.


Philip Hopley Heather Spicer and Judy Hopley admiring plantings on the roof garden

The tour was guided by Michele Adler who had previously lectured at Burnley.  She and her colleague were most knowledgeable and happy to share their vast knowledge.

We were taken around the gardens from the Luffmann designed Lily ponds past magnificent specimens of large, old trees to the Australian section.


 Luffmann Lily Ponds



The flowers of one of the unusual plants found
throughout the gardens: Pittospormum multiflorum “Orange Thorn”

 We then enjoyed lunch in the sunshine before heading home.

A great day out and full marks to Sue Spacey for her organisation of the day.

Article by Marion Cook


Michele Adler in front of the gates she designed.  The gates were made by Overwrought Garden Art at Blampied.

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Fermi de Sousa of Redesdale gave an informative talk to the Garden Club in August.  Fermi has had a life long interest in these beautiful plants and in his garden specialises in rock tulips.  Thanks to Fermi for providing the following summary of his presentation.

Most people associate tulips with Holland but they originated in the Mediterranean and Central Europe so are suited to growing in our region!


Fergana Group

The highly developed cultivars seen by the million in the Dutch Bulb Fields and at events such as Keukenhof in Lisse or even Canberra’s Floriade are the result of hundreds of years of hybridisation. They are a far cry from the original species and the first generation hybrids.

Tulips are well suited to growing in Central Victoria as they start growing in the autumn when the rains start and flower as the weather warms up in spring. The species usually have less obtrusive foliage which withers away without smothering their neighbours so are better garden subjects than the big hybrids. They die down before summer and prefer a dry summer rest without rain.

The colours of the species can be as bright and flamboyant as the big cultivars but they won’t get as tall.



Little Princess

Because of that they are well suited to the rock garden or the front of the border or even to pots and troughs.

They are becoming more available from some of the commercial retailers such as Hancocks (best known for daffodils!), Vogelvry and Van Diemen Quality Bulbs (Tassie). Of course in this area we have nurseries such as Lambley (Ascot), Dicksonia (Mt Macedon) and Longinomus (Romsey) who sell a good selection of species tulips as well as other interesting bulbs”.



Tulipa.clusiana. Lady Jane at Lambley



Bakeri Group


T. Clusiana Group


Club members thoroughly enjoyed this wonderful presentation – thank you Fermi!


These beautiful Tulipa Saxatilis are growing in Tom and Christobel’s front garden

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Gardens of The Hedge

During September 2016 several Castlemaine and district gardens will be open to the public.  Several Garden Club members have their gardens open as part of this event.  Details at the following link:

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AGM 2016 and talk by Damian Kelly

On a cold, wet winter’s evening a large number of club members attended the 2016 AGM.  Sally Leversha was confirmed as President; Judy Eastwood as Vice President; Janine Young as Secretary; Alan Isaacs as Treasurer and Marion Cooke and Sue Spacey as committee members.  Immediate Past President, Judy Uren remains on the committee.

Club members who were retiring from support roles were thanked.  They include Edward Gollings, supper; Christobel Comerford, meet and greet; Tom Comerford, MULCH editor and Bursary coodinator; Jan Gower, committee; and Heather Spicer, trading table.  Members taking over support roles were welcomed.  They include Eileen Park and Marie Elrington, supper; Judy Hopley, meet and greet, and Gill King, trading table.  Maxine Tester agreed to continue providing raffle prizes for general meetings as well as organising the Garden Market raffle.  Judy Uren will continue to coordinate the Garden Market and Show Parade.  Judy Hopley will continue as Webmaster and monitor of the club’s email account.  Philip Hopley will provide technical support and Helen Morris agreed to coordinate the Bursary with the proviso that she receive support.   The position of editor of MULCH remains vacant.

A motion that membership fees for 2017 be $20 for a single and $25 for a family was put to the meeting.  The President explained that some members considered that the present membership fees were unfair as single members pay the same fee as that paid by a family with two or more members.  Club members spoke against the motion.  The motion was then put and defeated.  A motion that membership fees for 2017 be raised to $25 per household was put to the meeting.  After discussion for and against, the motion was put to the vote and defeated.  A motion that membership fees for 2017 remain at $20 per household was carried.

A motion that there be a change to the general meeting format to not include a formal business meeting was put to the meeting.  The President explained that if this was adopted if would reduce the workload for the secretary and provide a focus at general meetings on guest speakers.  Club members spoke for and against the motion.  The motion was then put and was carried by a majority.

The AGM over, members adjourned for a variety of soups, bread and yummy desserts, followed by an informative and entertaining talk by club member, Damian Kelly on flora, fauna and naturalists!  Damian spoke of the seminal work undertaken by two women naturalists, the English woman, Marianne North and the Australian, Ellis Rowan.  Born in 1830, Marianne North devoted her life to travelling the world and painting plants. A gallery devoted to her work is located at Kew Gardens, England.  When Damian visited the gallery he was astonished at the walls lined with hundreds of her paintings and objects collected during her travels.  Ellis Rowan, despite having many setbacks in her life, also produced wonderful paintings of flora and fauna.  Both women travelled to remote places such as New Guinea to paint plants and birds in situ, a practice not commonly practiced by their contemporaries, mainly men, who preferred to paint or draw from preserved specimens.

Damian presenting

Damian presenting to club members

Damian moved on to the work he has been undertaking, in conjunction with others, on the life and photos of Hugh A.C. Leach.  The discovery of the Hugh Leach fountain in Kalimna Park, erected by the Castlemaine Bird Club in 1929, was the catalyst to find out more about the Club and Leach.  Following various leads, many proving to be false, Damian managed to find out more about Leach and his time in Castlemaine when he was the teacher at Barkers Creek State School.  His love of native flora and fauna, particularly birds, combined with his interest in photography, led to hundreds of photos on glass slides.  Fortunately, Damian’s search for information brought him into contact with close relatives of Leach who were able to supply him with a box containing many of these slides.  They are slowly being digitised by an expert in Melbourne, the cost being born by one of Leach’s descendants.  Damian spoke of the techniques used by Leach to obtain his remarkable bird photographs.  Most of these are not used by modern day bird photographers who must patiently wait for an opportunity to shoot their subjects in situ!



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Photo by Hugh Leach

Damian has also found three chapters of a book by Hugh Leach titled The Bird Lover and has converted these into an ebook.  The slide below shows the first page written by Leach in a school book.

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It appears that Leach was, to use Damian’s phrase, “the mover and shaker”, in regard to the Castlemaine Bird Club.  It was during his time in Castlemaine that the club thrived but after his departure to teach in other rural locales, it seems to have gone into decline and finally disappeared altogether.

Club members thoroughly enjoyed this wonderful presentation – thank you Damian!





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