Early in November we visited a protected grassland on the northern plains. The property is surrounded by cropped and grazed land, so provides important habitat for a range of species. The main component is the endangered plains grassland (110ha) but it also includes a patch of black box lignum swampy woodland that floods occasionally and a cane grass wetland.
The property is in the Victorian Riverina bioregion and in 2012 The Natural Grasslands of the Murray Valley Plains were listed under the Environment and Biodiversity Protection Act 1999 as a critically endangered community.
Black Box Flowering
black box lignum swampy woodland
black box lignum swampy woodland
Black box regeneration
It always interesting to visit covenanted land as you know there is always something special to see if someone has decided to protect the land with a covenant. A conservation covenant is a voluntary agreement made between a private landholder and the Trust for Nature. The agreement is legally binding and lasts forever. It is not like 173 agreements that seem to be changed at the drop of a hat or not enforced. Landholders think long and hard before signing a Trust for Nature covenant.
The black box are flowering and the trees are alive with birds including red-rumped parrots, superb wrens, willie wagtails, magpies, wood swallows and welcome swallows. There were also noisy miners which although they are native, can be aggressive towards other birds and take over their hollows. They are becoming more of a problem as habitat becomes fragmented.
It is not a big year for flowers but we spotted small pink bindweeds, woolly new holland daisies, common everlastings, goodenias, bluebells, lesser joyweed and quena. There was lots of grass, too much grass in some parts but it is hard to get find a local farmer to put stock on the property with the swing to larger cropping enterprises. Ants were carrying the seeds of bluebush and dehusking them before taking them underground.
There was also a magnificent looking moth but I will have to go on BowerBird to identify it.
In October when walking in the Brisbane Ranges National Park, I came across Tufted honeyflower, Melianthus commosus. Some people like to spot new birds but I like to spot weeds and this was a new one. I managed to get the genus because I recognised the leaves as being similar to Cape honeyflower, Melianthus major, which is occasionally seen near old gardens. Both are natives to South Africa and grow to 2-3m. All parts are poisonous. this one was near a creek.
Melianthus commosus Tufted Honeyflower
One of the joys of spring is to visit native grasslands. In Victoria on the volcanic plains there are less than 1% of the original extent left. Sometimes they are still to be found in cemeteries. Occasionally Meredith Cemetery has wildflowers to see but I didn’t manage to get there before they mowed it this year. The mower only missed 2 square metres which is a pity as visitors don’t get to see the native flowers and the flowers miss a year of being able to set seed.
There will always be weeds in flower to see and unlike the natives most of them can tolerate regular low mowing.
flatweed with native pollinator
A few weeks ago we came across a small country cemetery at Kingower, that was just beautiful. It was full of wildflowers. There was no mown lawn and hardly any weedy introduced plants. It was such a joy to wander amongst the masses of yellow everlastings and graves.
It was an unplanned visit and as usual one of us spotted the blue cemetery sign, we did a quick calculation of the time available and then turned the car around to check out the site. Visits to cemeteries during October had been mostly depressing as the mowers had beaten me to the wildflowers but this one was what many of us like to see in a cemetery.
Lemon Scented Gums lined the path up the centre of the cemetery and there were a few funeral cypresses but otherwise there were few other additional plantings. There will be some weed problems in the future as Italian lavender and Orange Tritonias are slowly encroaching, but this could be solved by some hand weeding.
Lovely to see the swallow’s nest built under the roof of the small information
Here is a tool marketed as a Grandpa’s Weeder that is very handy to get flat weeds and some other weeds out of lawns. Best to use when the soil is moist when the weeds come out easily and saves the back.
If you are interested in history and a bush walk, then a trip to Jubilee Heritage Area, Browns Road, Scarsdale is the place to go. There is a sign-posted walk with interpretive plaques which describe the building remnants and other features. The area is managed by Parks Victoria.
supports for water tanks
a bracken frond
Black Wattle flowers
nature reclaiming the site
Hidden on the edge of the forest on Victoria Road Scarsdale, is Victoria Dam. There are some wonderful wildflowers at the moment. The reflections in the water are also pretty impressive. Bird orchids are beginning to flower and you may spot a few if you take a walk around the back of the dam through the bush. There is no marked path.
Path across the dam wall