What Should I Plant?

The predominant original ecological vegetation class for the Mornington Peninsula prior to European settlement is “Grassy Woodland”.  This vegetation classification also applied to the Woodland area prior to habitation.  However, due to the effects of farming, viticulture, industrialisation and climate variation, very few of those indigenous species now remain over much of the Peninsula.

Residential housing and the ability of some of the fauna to co-exist and even multiply within this environment has caused further flora degradation and not only within the Woodland area.  The possum explosion has seen eucalypts denuded of foliage by their voracious appetite.  Residents’ personal interpretation of the Bushfire Management Overlay regulations has also seen the removal of many old and original gums in Woodland.  Our desire for a neat and tidy garden means that indigenous natives in our own backyards have very little chance of natural regeneration.

A result of the disappearance of so much of the original bush and lower level trees has meant that the sightings of small birds, once so plentiful, have become a rarity in much of Woodland  Have you seen a yellow robin, a shrike tit, a honeyeater or a pardalote in your garden?  It is probably many years since a koala was spotted in the area and the increase in traffic and household pets has reduced the lizard and echidna population.

This paints a bleak picture of the current state of the flora and fauna indigenous to Woodland, but all is not lost.  While it would be very disappointing to lose any more of those living attributes of Woodland that we have become accustomed to, it is possible for us to prevent further degradation and start to make some small steps to regaining some of those attributes already lost.

So what should we do and how should we do it?

There are several competing theories associated with the dieback and treatment of that dieback of indigenous eucalypts on the Mornington Peninsula. One such theory is set out in Dr Jeff Yugovic's paper on the diagnosis and effective treatment of tree decline in Mount Eliza: http://www.meafec.com/ecosystems.pdf. Jeff recommends that we should start by installing possum bands on all surviving indigenous eucalypts immediately.

When we can source appropriate articles from those competing theories we will make them available through this website so that you can make up your own mind how to address this problem - for address it we must, if this area is to remain a woodland.

Replace any dead or removed vegetation with trees, bushes and plants that have historically occurred in the Woodland area. Manna and narrow-leaved peppermint gums were the most common of the eucalypts.

Don’t simply mow down the little self-seeded trees that appear in your lawn.  Dig them up, plant them in potting mix and wait for them to grow big enough for replanting in an area you find more acceptable.

Ground covers and grasses, such as dichondra, dianellas and lomandras, give excellent cover to skinks and frogs.  This will give continuity of those attributes necessary for the birds and animals to enjoy their natural habitat.

There is a large selection of small trees and large bushes listed in the Mornington Peninsula Shire-produced foldout brochure entitled “Revegetation & Landscaping with Indigenous Plants” applicable to the Balcombe Region (which includes Mount Eliza Woodland).  It will also provide further information on the flora indigenous to this area of the Peninsula.

This information is also available on the Mornington Peninsula Shire website at www.mornpen.vic.gov.au  Home > Leisure & Tourism > Parks & Reserves > Shire Nursery  under the heading of ABOUT NATIVE AND INDIGENOUS PLANTS.

The Mount Eliza CFA fire station has a demonstration low fuel indigenous garden showing how indigenous plants are compatible with fire prevention. You can visit this garden at any time to see this indigenous vegetation which is composed of either fire-retardant species or species that can be fuel reduced. Note the wallaby grass lawn.

Many of the plants suitable for Mount Eliza Woodland can be obtained from the Mornington Peninsula Shire nursery where you can also ask for advice on what grows best in your area:

 The Briars, 450 Nepean Highway, Mt Martha 3934 (Melways Ref 145 D11)                                                        Tel. 03 5974 8417                                                                                                                    Email: nursery@mornpen.vic.gov.au