Bush Regeneration in Western Sydney
The western area of Sydney bounded by the area from Parramatta to Penrith is one of the most populous in Australia. It is also home to an ever diminishing population of plants and animals. By preserving and regenerating what is left of the Cumberland Plains woodland vegetation local communities are making a fantastic contribution to their environment.
Local volunteers staff a Greening Australia nursery that is completely devoted to propagating the indigenous plants of the region. Tens of thousands of plants are produced using a variety of propagation techniques. One of the keys to the process is that the propagation material comes from known geographical provenance sources. Seed or cuttings are used and in some cases rescue missions are carried out to dig up rare or valuable plants that are destined to go under the bulldozer.
One of the more interesting seed germination techniques used is for a hakea that needs smoke treatment to break its dormancy. A smoke-impregnated vermiculite is used to cover the sown seed and each time the seed trays are watered a small amount of the smoke chemicals percolates down through the potting mix to interact with the seed.
Water plants are also propagated to plant in aquatic environments to foster animals such as frogs. Rare and endangered plants are propagated in the nursery to re-establish wild populations eg a local form of Grevillea juniperina.
Members of the Blacktown and District Environment Group have produced an informative colour booklet to encourage the local community to add indigenous species to their gardens. While many of the species are not the most spectacular specimens they make up for it through their contribution to the ecology of the area, not to mention their drought tolerance. All the indigenous species can be incorporated into existing gardens to contribute to preserving the biodiversity of this region.
Plants such as yellow buttons (Chrysocephalum apiculatum) or fairy fan flower (Scaevola albida) can be used as an attractive substitute for lawn that requires no watering.
Attractive flowering herbaceous species include the native bluebell (Wahlenbergia stricta), purple violet (Viola betonicifolia) and chocolate lily (Dichopogon fimbriatus) the last of which ahs a delicious and delicate perfume to delight the chocholics.
Colourful creepers such as Old Man’s Beard (Clematis aristata) and Happy Wanderer (Hardenbergia violacea) can double as ground covers or climbers for hiding fences or covering pergolas.
Rapid growing wattles such as Sydney Green Wattle (Acacia decurrens) or Sickle Wattle (Acacia falcate) are great pioneer species that will grow rapidly to full sixe to create a screen in the garden. Other shrubby species such as Rice Flower (Ozothamnus diosmifolius) and snow in summer (Melaleuca linariifolia) are as spectacular as any exotic species.
In summary this is a terrific example of a local community getting off their bums and making a great contribution to preserving and enhancing the biodiversity of a unique and rapidly disappearing piece of Australian bushland. Regenerating the indigenous plant species is a major step towards also encouraging