August 2017 Meeting

Luke Whiteside – Grafting Fruit Trees

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Luke has had an interesting career as a school chaplain and pastor, and latterly as president of the Yarra Valley Bee Group and cultivator of heritage fruit trees. Main points of his talk:

Horticulturalists may increase plants either by sexual reproduction (pollination and seed formation) or asexual reproduction (grafting, cutting, layering, division, bedding and tissue culture). The advantages of sexual reproduction are that it is quick, economical and easy, but produces offspring that are genetically diverse, i.e. not necessarily true to the parent. Asexual methods produce clones of the parent plant but are generally more labour-intensive.

Grafting is the joining together of the cambium (growing) layers of the scion (top of the plant) and the rootstock. This gives the possibility of combining the best attributes of two different, but genetically related, plants to produce a superior new plant. It is particularly suitable for fruit trees and has been the means of retaining certain heritage varieties which might otherwise be lost because they are of no commercial value. It has also been useful for the home gardener in enabling the one tree to produce a variety of fruits that ripen at different times, thus extending the harvest season and reducing the need for cold storage and/or transport.

There are a number of different grafting methods using different complementary shapes for joining together the the scion and the rootstock when the two are of comparable size: wedge, splice, whip-and-tongue, and approach grafting; less common and used when the scion is significantly smaller than the rootstock are cleft, side, notch and bark inlay grafting. Budding is a similar technique except that a bud is used instead of the scion.

Tools needed: grafting knife, grafting tape, wax, Clonex rooting hormone (used in very dilute solution to stimulate cell growth).

Important:

  • Plants must be related to each other (same genus or same family);
  • Tools must be disinfected to avoid transferring any diseases such as apple mosaic virus;
  • Plant samples are usually best collected during dormancy;
  • Drying out of plant parts can be prevented by using ziplock bags for collecting them;
  • Graftable plants include maples and fruit trees such as apples, quinces, plums etc.
  • There will be a grafting workshop at ECOSS next July, run by Neil Barraclough.
  • Reference: Dave Wilson in Nursery Educational Video series.

Ancient Greek proverb –

A society grows great when old men plant trees, whose shade they will never sit in.

February 2017 Speaker – Shirley Lahtinen

The speaker for the February 2016 meeting was Garden Club Member Shirley Lahtinen. She and husband Kari toured Japan in the autumn last year and she gave a very entertaining account of their trip, with some wonderful photography by Kari of the gardens they visited. She discussed four different Japanese garden styles: paradise gardens (temple based); dry landscapes (typified by raked gravel and rocks); stroll gardens with winding paths to slow the visitor down; and modern gardens. The elements considered in the development of all four garden styles were plants (especially native larches and cedars, camellias, maples, cherry trees, cycads, grasses and mosses), rocks, water (whether present or absent) and context (borrowed landscapes, temples, castles, houses). The artistry and attention to detail in some of the gardens was amazing, even down to the pruning of individual needles on conifers! In addition she showed some beautiful photographs of native landscapes with the trees in full autumn splendor, and discussed the Japanese specialties of bonsai and chrysanthemum culture.

October 2016 Meeting – Special Awards

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An unexpected visit from Don Rickerby, President of the Royal Horticultural Society of Victoria, Jennifer Rickerby, Secretary of RHSV and Paul Crowe former Principal of the State Schools Nursery, patron of the Kevin Heinz Foundation and active in the Nurseryman’s Association, surprised Kevin and upset the agenda planned for the evening.

This visit was for the presentations of the John Pascoe Fawkner Award to Bob Shelden and Kevin Hince for their outstanding service to horticulture, community activities and their service to the Upper Yarra Valley Garden Club over many years. These awards have been almost a year in the planning and have been organised with the utmost secrecy much to the surprise of the recipients. Thanks to Shirley, Jenny, Joy, Janet and Ros.

September 2016 Meeting Guest Speaker Keith

We welcomed Keith from Diggers Club to speak about Heirloom, Hybrid and GE (genetically engineered) Seeds.

His introduction was on the early domestication of wheat dating back 10,000 years. The first farmers were from Syria and Iraq with seeds being publically owned. Much later on the French company Vilmorin became the leading seed company, their book produced in 1850 included 1600 cool weather species.

With the hybrids came the heavy use of chemicals, fertilizers and sprays resulting in much of the biodiversity being destroyed. A foundation of seed savers was established with many seeds being rescued.

Keith spoke at length about the leading chemical and pesticide companies – Monsanto, Dupont and Syngenta and the damage to the environment resulting from the use of their products.

In 1983 Clive Blazey purchased Heronswood to continue his quest of preserving heritage and heirloom seeds. This property is now on National Estate Register.

Don’t forget to look at the page “Whats happening in your garden” for Bob’s updatehttps://upperyarravalleygardenclub.com/whats-happening-in-your-garden/.

August 2016 Meeting Guest Speaker Greg Boldiston

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Greg gave a detailed description of a wide range of flowering bulbs. He estimated that he had between 600 to 700 different species of bulbs; many in pots.

The many of various species displayed were as follows: Crocus, Tulips, fritillaria, allium, oxalis, gladioli, ixia, mini dutch iris, tropaeolum and arum.

Greg runs the Longinomus Plants Nursery at 2931 Lancefield Road, Romsey. Contacts 0438296006 or longinomus@hotmail.com or on facebook.

July Meeting – Guest Speaker, Virginia Heywood

Virginia provided an interesting talk on the problems of associated with the demise of certain species of plants, due either to consumer taste and/or the selectivity of plant nurseries of only those plants that they believe will give the best return. The concept of old fashioned is not valid but is believed by many purchasers.

There are a great number of individuals and small scale nurseries that have taken on the responsibility of holding recognized collections of specific plant species.

Many plant species are now being reclassified and renamed as botanists use sophisticated techniques to determine minor variations.

Virginia who is one of the presenters on the 3CR Garden Show and invited members to tune in.

Sunnymeade Garden Tour

A bus tour to Sunnymeade garden on Saturday October 22, 2016, has been confirmed.

The tour is to include a visit to one or two gardens in the Alexandra Open Garden scheme. These additional gardens cannot be selected until the Alexander Club has finalised their program.

Annual General Meeting

The AGM for 2015-2016 is scheduled to be held on Monday August 15 at the Warburton Senior Citizens Centre commencing at 7:00PM.

Nomination forms were available, however, nominations can be proposed at the meeting.

June 2016 Guest Speaker

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Luciano and Heather Corallo – Strawberry Springs Farm

The strawberry farm is 70 acres in area and can support up to half a million plants. There are 40-50 employees. The area in Millgrove was selected because of the soil temperatures and the quality of the soil. A soil that poses good temperatures can prolong the growing and hence the fruiting season. The soil, while slightly acidic, is enriched using phosphorus, potassium and lime. Ploughed in green crops on an annual rotation, also maintains beneficial soil structure. All planting is carried out in north/south rows as this allows the prevailing winds to blow along the beds rather that across them, thus minimising wing damage to the plants. The open air aspect also helps reduce the problem of mildew.

All planting is of the one variety and plants are replaced each year.

Plastic is used under the plants in order to keep fruit clean and easy to pick. The plastic also helps retain moisture which is supplied by drip irrigation. All runners are trimmed off so that the plant can concentrate on producing fruit.

Pest control is maintained by the release of beneficial insects and/or bugs rather than insecticide and chemical spraying. There is a need for occasional spraying when the problems of mildew and rot occur. Most pollination occurs from the wind and bees.

There is a new retail venture on the site to cater to those who wish to purchase strawberry products like cakes, biscuits, cheesecakes and sponges. You can also pick up some beautiful large, fresh strawberries in season between November and the end of January.

The strawberry industry has recognised Yarra Valley as at the ‘top end’ of the world list for both strawberry quality and flavour. Congratulations Strawberry Springs Farm.

There were numerous questions asked by the members and answers were delivered in a very professional manner.

Peter Versteege warmly thanked Luciano and Heather for their excellent and most interesting presentation.