How to: choose plants suitable for your location

This is one of a few posts I'll be putting up about using the new Growing Illawarra Natives website, and particularly the 'plant finder', which is the entry point to our database of 500+ species of local native plants. 
The distinctive coastal vegetation of Bass Point. Image by Emma Rooksby. 
One feature that should be particularly useful to people is the 'zone' selection tool. We've divided the Illawarra region into ten different growing zones, and for each plant have specified which zone or zones it will grow in. 

So select the zone you want to plant in, and a search will bring up species suitable for that zone. (Things are a bit more complicated than that on the ground, I'm afraid, but we've simplified it as much as we can.) In a nutshell, the zones are: 
  • Sandy seaside areas: beach areas and the dunes and (sometimes) cliff faces nearby, which are harsh and difficult environments for many plants. Fairly few species cope in these areas. 
  • i: areas of sandy soil a bit further back from the beach than the sandy seaside areas, characterised by deeper and more stable soils and higher moisture content in the soil. Hind dunes can support trees including littoral rainforest. 
  • Seacliffs, looming over the coast, with soils that may vary from sandy to clay or even bare cliff rock. Generally these are in exposed locations and only very tough vegetation grows there. 
  • Saltmarsh: areas around lagoons and estuaries characterised by fluctuating levels of water, often of high salinity. 
  • Wetlands: estuaries, lagoons and freshwater lakes along the coast. These are poorly preserved around the region but many of the plants characteristic can still be found growing around the place
  • Coastal plain: the floodplains and low hills between the coastal areas and the escarpment, which were originally dominated by eucalypt forest and woodland.
  • Riparian zones: the areas alongside the creeks that run east from the escarpment to the coast, that often support narrow strips of rainforest.
  • Escarpment: one of the most distinctive topographic features of the Illawarra, and home to a mix of vegetation communities, including eucalypt forest and various types of rainforest. This site divides the escarpment into two separate zones, for its lower and upper areas. 
  • Volcanic: these are areas characterised by volcanic soils. They are prevalent in the Kiama area, and along the escarpment from Saddleback Mountain to Cambewarra Mountain in the southeast of the region.  
You can read more on the zones in this article about the region: https://blog.growingillawarranatives.org/p/about-region.html.
Grassy woodland vegetation characteristic of the coastal plain. This ecological community is now critically endangered. Small vulnerable pockets of it remain, such as at Wisemans Park in Gwynneville, but they continue to be degraded and destroyed by inappropriate development and other key threatening processes. Image by Emma Rooksby. 

No comments

Post a comment