Insects underpin the entire ecosystem and provide food for a myriad of animals including birds, frogs, skinks, echidnas, lace monitors, water dragons, snakes and many many more.
A stumpery is a garden feature which originated in Victorian England. It is designed to create a visual impact, use up garden wood and provide habitat for our ecosystem stars. It is created from stumps, logs, pieces of bark or even worked timber such as railway sleepers or floorboards. The pieces are arranged artistically and plants, typically ferns, mosses and lichens are encouraged to grow around or on them.
Ideally a hardwood is chosen for its ability to withstand the normal decomposition of deadwood. The stumpery becomes habitat for fungi and the insects associated with that species of fungi. The insects attract birds, frogs and other wildlife. Dense shrubbery nearby increases the protection for small birds.
The first stumpery was built in 1856 at Biddulph Grange and HM King Charles III has created an amazing stumpery at Highgrove gardens called The Stumpery.
Creating your own Stumpery
Select a shady location.
Then select a stump or wood feature preferably hardwood which is longer lasting. Hard wood is really hard to dig out a bowl so try and get one that already has the beginning of a hole. Our stump already had a hole through to the bottom and we gouged out more using a drill.
We then filled the hole with soil and added the Birds nest fern Asplenium australasicum.
We attached an Elkhorn Fern Platycerium bifurcatum to the side on top of some sphagnum moss with string and eventually will remove the string when it is no longer needed.
We planted native orchids Dendrobiun kingianum and Kangaroo ferns Microsorum diversifolium around the rocks at the base.
After attaining the grant we organised a Bush Regen Company Bush Habitat Restoration to begin the daunting task of starting to restore the area. After 10 visits they made an amazing start.
Through Streamwatch and Hornsby Shire Council’s Water Testing Program we also tested for water quality. This was important as we knew that Spiny Crayfish, Snake-necked turtles and Long-fin eels use the creek.
Water management has traditionally been about supplying clean drinking water however there is a growing expectation in the community that water management is more than that, it is about having healthy waterways without pollution and thriving with life. So how do we adapt to this new expectation?
We again engaged Cumberland Plain Regeneration to help us work out the fauna at Provest Creek after completing some bush regeneration. In summary 13 species of mammals, 4 reptile species, 11 frog species and over 50 species of birds were detected during the monitoring period. Not bad for a site very close to an urban area. We are very fortunate to have our national parks which preserve habitat for the diverse fauna found in this vegetation community, the Peppermint-Angophora Forest.
As part of our grant we wanted to measure the fauna active at Provest Creek. We engaged the services of Cumberland Plain Regeneration to help us. They placed camera traps, took samples of leaf litter and also did a spotlight survey and multiple bird surveys. They revealed a rich ecosystem active on the edge of the Berowra Valley National Park.
While talking to water experts the term Urban Stream Syndrome is often mentioned when describing degraded water ways in urban areas. However, like illnesses in humans, the description of the symptoms does not really help address the underlying problem.
I decided to look into what this term really meant and what ways are being explored to try and address this problem.
Possums are an iconic Australian native animal. They are adorable, that is, until one moves into your roof.
There are two main types of possums we encounter, the ringtail possum and the brushtail possum (pictured above). The ringtail possum is smaller, quieter and is easily identified by a white tail. Normally, they make a nest from sticks, called a drey, so they are rarely a problem. The brushtail possum however can grow to the size of a cat, and is easily identified by a blackish furry tail. In the wild they live in tree hollows. In the absence of hollows, they move into manmade structures, and sound like a small horse in your roof.
On 20th Feb we were fortunate to be visited by our local federal MP Julian Leeser. He expressed his passion to preserve the Hawkesbury River for future generations. Provest Creek is a small tributary that feeds Berowra Creek which feeds the Hawkesbury River. The health of the river systems are all interconnected.