Our half day field excursion for August was to the City of Ballarat Plant Nursery and then onto the adjacent North Gardens Wetlands. Our leader was Roger Thomas who manages the nursery and we were given an interesting insight in the how the nursery operates.
The nursery does not sell to the public but supplies plants to various projects that happen within the footprint of the municipality. A grant comes from the City of Ballarat to operate the nursery and under guidance from Roger a lot of the work is carried out by a handful of volunteers who meet on Wednesdays.
A diverse range of indigenous plants is grown from seed and some by cuttings. Even after all the years of growing native plants some are still difficult to propagate. Some plants are grown in styrene boxes so seed may be more easily collected, others do they may be divided to make new plants as required. Most of the eucalypts are sown in late spring so they are ready to be planted out in the following autumn/winter. The current stock is diminished as a lot of plants have already been distributed for activities such as National Tree Day.
A brief interlude in the polyhouse where it was 150C, was much appreciated. We saw the collection of four species of native mint, newly taken cuttings of hop goodenia and several trays of germinating seeds. Morning tea was held in the potting shed where we were shown a range of the seed for use in various projects.
Next it was out the side gate, past the heritage listed remnants of the old zoological gardens and into the North Garden Wetlands. The wetlands are designed to take the storm water from areas in Wendouree and filter it before it makes its way into Lake Wendouree. The wetlands were constructed in the early 2000s on what was a mown grass area.
A series of paths wind around the various ponds and there are always interesting birds to see. While mainly planted with indigenous vegetation there are a few non indigenous plants which probably came in with the mulch many years ago that should now be removed. While the wetlands provide a magnificent educational resource as well as a relaxing place to enjoy nature they are looking a bit neglected and would be enhanced with some more understorey plants and removal of selected species. North Gardens Flora and Bird list 5.8.18