If you're a fan of native Australian plants, or are a beginner wishing to learn more about them and how to grow them, you might want to get down to the Australian Plants Society Yarra Yarra's annual plant sale in Eltham.
The Society is made up of a collection of gardeners, from beginner to expert, who are dedicated to conserving and growing Australian native plants. There will be many unusual species of plants available for sale on the day, including plants indigenous to Melbourne, plus those more specifically indigenous to the north of Melbourne which will be provided by the La Trobe Wildlife Sanctuary Nursery. There will also be a broad range of native peas (Fabaceae) propagated by the Society. Plants will be available for sale in tubestock (seedlings ready for planting), advanced and grafted forms.
There will also be sessions on how to grow plants. There are three ways of doing this: from seed, cuttings and grafting. Says Jill from the Society: "A cutting is a small piece of an existing plant, which is usually placed into a well-drained propagation mix to form its own roots. Cuttings are a way of preserving the same characteristics of a good source plant, e.g. flower colour and size, type of growth, habit etc, whereas growing from seed means you can have more diversity in the seedlings arising from the past genetic background of the plants parents."
Grafting is a more complex procedure, she says, which involves "taking cuttings, usually from plants that are difficult to grow in our area, e.g. a lot of WA native plants, and joining it to a rootstock of a related plant that will grow locally. There are several ways of doing this."
If you want to see demonstrations of these three methods, there will be several sessions on the day, starting from 12 noon. Each session will run for 30-40 minutes and there will be an opportunity for you to ask questions.
"Autumn is the best time to be planting in the garden, giving plants the best chance to settle in over winter and spring, establishing a good root system before the next hot summer," Jill says.