After four months since planting, sheoaks and messmate growing straight and strong in Rowan Reid's tall tubes with a flexible post to cope with bouncing roos and grazing wallabies. The critters do push the sleeves up so need regular checking. The sleeves have proven too tight for spreading shrubs like the banksia.
We topped up patches around the southern 5ha of the biorich plantation after the spring bird survey – with 40 black wattle, 20 silver banksia and 20 messmate stringybark.
Gary had sprayed the grass twice with glyphosate and marked the various locations for planting. The long sleeves and the bendy fibreglass poles were purchased from Rowan Reid and are designed to deter bouncing roos and grazing wallabies. Hopefully, the sleeves are not too narrow for the banksia's spreading form. The ground was saturated, with water pooling after being dug into in a few spots. Will the tubestock drown? Like the long sleeves, yet another real life experiment.
The black wattle and messmate are both timber species used in our 21C drop slab hut. The silver banksia is a locally endangered species that seems to thrive at ImLal. We hope to establish a seed orchard for the silver banksia (Banksia marginata) with Seeding Victoria.
We ended the morning's events with a barbecue in the clearing next to the newly completed 21C drop slab hut. No doubt, the first of many such enjoyable occasions.
To combat the bouncing roos and the nibbling wallabies, we've purchased extra long flexible fibreglass poles and guards. They're the invention of Rowan Reid. The poles can absorb the bouncing and the high guards prevent the wallabies from nibbling.
Pictured are Campbell and Gary banging the poles in place, then Gary sprayed to get rid of the thick grass mat.
In spring, we'll spray once more with a knockdown glyphosate and plant out 40 black wattles, 20 messmate and 20 silver banksias. We're experimenting with using half the black wattles as a nurse crop for the messmate. Campbell has had great success with black wattle on one south-facing site. So much so that we're using it in the flooring of the drop slab hut – visit step-5-a-shining-red-black-wattle-has-an-ill-deserved-reputation.html
Locally endangered serrated hakea (H. decurrens) was planted on the hilltop and has survived the harsh conditions. The hill is actually a mullock heap, left over from the original Imerys quarry. It consists of clay and is exposed to the elements and a marauding band of kangaroos.
To the rear of the line of hakea, you can see self-seeded blackwoods sprouting up across the hilltop.
Not sure how this mix of plants is going to work!?
A group of us met with Steve Murphy and Matt Pywell from Wild Plants (on right) to discuss details of the mix of plants to go along the biolink ridge. Matt came up with the brilliant suggestion of the ImLal biorich site becoming an ark for locally endangered species. The ridge will be suitable for clumps of local species of coast banksia (B. marginata) and serrated hakea (H. decurrens). Matt says both are under pressure from seed collectors and command seed prices of $1,500-1,600/kg. Becoming an ark for locally endangered species adds another commercial option for biorich designers to explore.
Phil Kinghorn, Gary Featherston and I marked the outer edge of the proposed 50 metre wide biolink, which will connect the south and north ImLal sites. The biolink will sweep in an arc from the hill around the ridge along the western side of the central dam.
Imerys is contracting Jensans to respray the gorse and rip four rows approximately eight metres apart.
We have applied for Communities for Nature funding and will know the outcome in June. In the meantime, we have to take our chances and prepare the ground if we are to plant the mixed bag of selected indigenous species of shrubs and trees this spring. The CfN grant is for 2,000 plants, which Imerys will top up with another 500.
Species selected for the biolink were chosen by Stephen Murphy.
Finally – two years down the track – Geelong Landcare Network co-ordinator Bronte Payne (pictured) and Steve Murphy were able to carry out the direct seeding at ImLal South last weekend. It's always been too wet to get into this low-lying area, but last weekend the planting conditions were perfect.
"Plenty of soil moisture and the soil was loose and friable when the disc cut through it," reported Steve. "We planted local Swamp Gum, Blackwood, Silver Wattle, Prickly Moses, Prickly Teatree, Woolly Teatree, River Bottlebrush, Native Hemp, Grey Everlasting, Silver Tussock Grass and some Tall Sedge.
"The whole process took about three hours with half the time taken preparing the seed and calibrating the direct seeding machine."
With the good soil moisture and warmth, Steve reckons that the seed should germinate within four weeks.
Gib Wettenhall is interested in how we carry out large scale landscape restoration that involves the people who live in those landscapes. That, he believes, would build truly resilient landscapes.