North Shore Group

Walks & Talks
Coming events


Friday Night Meetings 2017

Meetings are held at 8.00 p.m. on the second Friday of the month
Plant sales from 7.45 p.m.

  At the: "Willow Park Community Centre"
25 Edgeworth David Ave.
NSW Australia

Next meeting

December 8th

  Christmas Party at the Ku-ring-gai Wildflower Garden




Speakers and Topics for 2017

February 12th

Discussion leaderr: Clare Bell
‘Choosing and finding native plants for your Garden’

You want to replant a section of your garden with natives. You want groundcovers at the front, medium shrubs behind them and tall shrubs and a few small trees against the fence. You read books and magazines and talk to others and finally develop a list of plants to buy. You go to all the local nurseries and are dismayed to find only a few of the plants on your list are available. What do you do?

Clare will lead a discussion, with most of the information coming from you, the audience, on how the retail nursery industry works, how do they choose what plants to stock, can they get other plants, how can you find out what is available, what other sources of plants are out there?

A photo of Clare.

March 10th

Speaker: Gwenda Lister
Topic: ' Walk through the Simpson Desert'

In July 2016 Gwenda Lister joined a Scientific and Ecological Survey into the Simpson Desert with Australian Desert Expeditions. The trip involved walking with camels around the south west corner of Queensland in Munga-Thirra National Park looking for aboriginal artefacts between the known wells used by aboriginal people in previous centuries and assisting a botanist and an ornithologist collect botanical samples and surveying birds in the desert. The talk will highlight some of the plants and birds as well as the sheer enjoyment of lying in a swag under the myriad of stars after trekking through sand dunes – definitely the best way to see and appreciate the desert.
Gwenda grew up in central NSW and has had a long career in industrial chemistry but has always enjoyed volunteering with the Australian Museum, NSW National Parks and Friends of Lord Howe Island.

Gwenda riding a camel with Olarooo in the background

April 21st

Speaker: Doug Rickard
Topic: Getting to know your Soil

Doug is a member of the APS Sutherland Group. Over the years, he has learnt a lot about soil. In his talk, he will he will get down to the basics – what he calls “Dirt for Dummies”.
We will learn about:
The different roles of top soils and subsoils.
The structure of soils and how it affects the ability of plants to take up water and food.
The chemical elements that are in the soil and how they become available to the plants.
The importance of the six factors that govern the soil’s ability to provide the nutrients that plants need - soil moisture, soil air, soil life, soil temperature, nutrient interactions and soil pH.
The importance of looking after the tens of millions of creatures that live in the soil in your backyard.
The role that bushfires play in the fertility of the soils in our bushland.
How to determine the type soil you have in your backyard and its pH value.
This is vital information for all gardeners.

Photo of Doug Rickard

May 12th

Tom Szymanski
‘'Bush tucker'

Tom has worked for more than 15 years for National Parks and Wildlife Service in various field based positions, the last 4 years as Senior Field Supervisor in Ku-ring-gai Chase and Garigal National Parks.

His interest in home grown food started in childhood. Growing up in communist Poland in the nineteen sixties through to nineties, he often helped his grandparents and parents run a kitchen garden - partly as a necessity and later on as an enjoyment. He learnt to love and value home grown food. He then worked as a chef mostly in London then Australia, reinforcing the importance of local food.

Since working for NPWS, he has become more aware of the damage certain food crops do to our environment. His interest slowly turned to native food plants as a replacement for supermarket food. He now grows and uses a variety of native foods. He claims he is not an expert, but is more than happy to share his experience in this area.

A collection of various bush foods.


June 9th

Rachael Thomas
‘Wetlands in western NSW'

Rachael has over 20 years of experience working as a wetland scientist within the NSW Office of Environment and Heritage. Rachael's research area is in wetland landscapes where she uses satellite remote sensing to detect wetland responses in the large inland floodplain wetlands of the Murray-Darling Basin.

Rachael will be talking about how she uses remote sensing to understand the floodplain vegetation in response to flooding in the Macquarie Marshes. This is a large floodplain wetland within the semi-arid region of the Murray-Darling River Basin, a Ramsar listed wetland of international importance. Unique flooding regimes from variable river flows of the Macquarie River are vital for a mosaic of wetland habitats. However river regulation and water diversions have altered river flows to the Marshes causing ecological degradation. To mitigate the impacts, environmental water is managed to the Macquarie Marshes to sustain ecosystem structure and function and to restore degraded habitats.

Understanding the vegetation dynamics in response to flooding regimes over large areas and long time-frames will be critical for the future management of the Macquarie Marshes.

A Wetland in western NSW

July 14th

Speaker: Johanna Wong
Topic: 'Biomarkers for Armillaria root rot in Eucalypts'

Johanna was the recipient of our 2016 Val Williams Scholarship in Botany.  She is a PhD student at the Hawkesbury Institute for the Environment. She grew up in Honk Kong, but loves the natural scenery of Australia. Her PHD goal is to understand how eucalypts interact with different fungi, particularly Armillaria. Plants secret chemical signals called metabolites to the environment under different stressors. She will identify the metabolite which is secreted specifically by trees under Armillaria infection. The metabolite can potentially be used as a ‘biomarker’ to assist detection of Armillaria disease at early stages. The developed methodology can help the management of Cumberland Plain Woodland and other vulnerable eucalypt communities.
At the meeting, Johanna will tell us about the results of valuable work.

photo of Johanna Wong

August 11th

Frank Koehler
'Australian snails and slugs'

Frank Koehler is a research scientist with the Australian Museum. His field is malacology, or the study of snails and slugs. He has been on ABC radio answering questions from listeners. He helped discover new species of snails on islands off the Kimberly coast in Western Australia and recently named a snail in south-east Tasmania in honour of David Attenborough. He has been involved in a study of endangered snails on Lord Howe Island as part of its rat and mouse eradication project.

Tonight Frank will tell us more about some of this work, and also speak about some of the snails and slugs we might see in the northern Sydney region.

A native snail

September 8th

Speaker: Barry Lees
Topic: 'Show-and-tell plants from your garden’

Spring is a magic time for gardeners, with the scents of flowers and the hum of bees in the air! It is a good time to share your passion with other gardeners. Please bring to the meeting a cutting from your favourite plant, and tell us why you like it. If your favourite plant is not in flower, bring a cutting along anyway and tell us about it. Attach a label with your name and the plant name so that others can ask you more about it later. We will go home with lots of new ideas on what we might plant in our own gardens.

A grevillia flower

October 13th

Speaker: Mary-Lou Lewis
Topic: 'Reducing stormwater impacts on bushland'

Enjoying the bushland, its magnificent flora and fauna is a passion of mine. I have been employed in the bushland environment for over twenty years, that’s a lot! Originally trained in recreation I then moved over to Park management, bush regeneration and horticulture. I am currently employed by Ku-ring-gai Council to run the Environmental Levy program. The Levy provides $2m every year to address urban impacts to protect bushland. This talk will look at stormwater, just one of those impacts. Discussions will include the degrading effects of stormwater, council’s attempts to remediate those impacts and opportunities for home owners to also manage stormwater through reuse, infiltration and landshaping, stormwater polishing and water quality. Or, what the industry describes as Water Sensitive Urban Design (WSUD).

Mary-Lou Lewis

November 10th

Speaker: Sue Bowen
Topic: 'Ferns and fern allies'

Dr Sue Bowen is the guest speaker at our November meeting.  She will be talking about ferns and fern allies, particularly those found in the Ku-ring-gai Wildflower Garden.  Sue is a plant ecologist who spent most of her working life obtaining and managing environmental approvals for Sydney Water’s Priority Sewerage Program.  Now retired, she spends her time gardening (in her own garden as well as for Easy Care Gardening), doing bush care and propagating native plants with APS.  She is also the NSG Correspondence secretary.  Growing ferns, such as the one pictured, is just one of her gardening interests.

Sue with a ferna

December 8th

  Christmas Party at the Ku-ring-gai Wildflower Garden

Down load the 2017 speakers program.

Past speakers