On the spring 2017 community planting day, ten of us put in a total of 1,050 shrubs and trees, although truth be told, Phil Kinghorn planted a good 200 trees on his own around the hill the next day. The chosen Sunday was sunny – a pleasant change from the driving wind and rain we have experienced since August. We had a barbecue lunch next to the repurposed pine and OSB wooden container that once carried railway parts. Phil gets these for free from the Ballarat railway station yards. He and Neville weatherproofed the container with 2nd hand gal and it offers a shelter and focal point for site visits, right next to the pruned and thinned farm forestry clumps of shining gum and Sydney blue gum.
We guarded the casuarinas as the wallabies love to snack on them. The other shrubs we simply staked to ID where they were. They were planted on a 2-3m wide strip that had been sprayed with glyphosate and simazine, with this strip arcing around to the north of the current biorich plantation. We debated slashing, but in the end weather defeated us and we decided, anyway, that the long grass could hide the shrubs from wallabies and rabbits. The grey box, black wattle and manna gum and other forestry trees went on a northern aspect on the hill and around the central dam. Some went on the perimeter around Footrot Flats, which went underwater last year and only a few trees from the previous 2015 spring planting had survived. Forestry trees were donated by Central Highlands Water, Steve Murphy who helped run the day, donated 40 drooping sheoak. AFG gave $750 to the branch.
We put in more of the locally endangered provenance of Banksia marginata. That along with another endangered shrub, Hakea decurrens, flourish on the hilltop. The biorich plantation is acting as a seed bank, as well offering habitat and farm forestry resources.
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.
We're having a planting day of indigenous species and forestry trees, filling in gaps on the north site.
Starting time is 9.30 am, meeting at the display sign at the Lal Lal Falls Rd gate. Please register with Ian Penna on 0419 016 815 or via email: email@example.com
We're offering morning tea, lunch and free copy of 'Recreating the Country' to all planters. Equipment provided.
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.