Club learn's about sustainable use of water resources during informative guest talk

Ute Wegener and Ben McCallum.
Ute Wegener and Ben McCallum.

At its May meeting, members of the Murray Bridge Garden and Floral Art club were presented with a very informative address by Mr Ben McCallum, Project Officer with the Eastern Hills and Murray Plains Catchment Group.

Mr McCallum centred his address on his role within the group and his passion for native plants.

The group is a community based association that is guided by its Local Action Plan which seeks to address natural resource management issues such as biodiversity protection and enhancement, sustainable use of water resources and productive and sustainable land management.

Mr McCallum informed the meeting that the Eastern Hills & Murray Plains Catchment, “Operates from the South Eastern Freeway northward to Truro and from the top of the catchment in eastern Mount Lofty Ranges down the escarpment and towards the River Murray.”

“Since 2013 we have been offering a service to landholders and community groups along the river corridor from Mannum to Wellington.”

“In addition the Eastern Hills and Murray Plains Catchment group operates the Murray Bridge Community Nursery in Greenlands Drive,” said Mr McCallum.

“We are not just a nursery, but a training and learning facility for everyone of all ages and backgrounds. We demonstrate propagation, germination and water quality monitoring.”

“We also supply other community groups with native plants for their projects and to support our local farmers and landholders,” explained Mr McCallum.

At his home in the Adelaide Hills, Mr McCallum is a keen organic gardener.

“I love incorporating natives grasses in my garden as these help attract the small invertebrates crucial to the pollination of the plants that I grow,” said Mr McCallum. 

“Much of my work with the Eastern Hills & Murray Plains Catchment Group centres of re-vegetation.”

“I first got into re-vegetation gardening about 20 years ago and commenced by work with the Catchment Group last year,” explained Mr McCallum.

In the 1990’s direct seeding was a very popular form of re-vegetation.  This involved scattering mixed seeds in rows.  Whilst this method did result in regrowth, it meant that there was no understory plants crucial to biodiversity.

“We often spend time looking at existing re-vegetation projects working on structure layers thinning when very dense with the view to trying to replicate how the natural system functions,” said Mr McCallum. 

Mr McCallum then proceeded to inform the Club of two projects that he is involved with those being the importance of native grasses to the environment and the ‘Red Gum Revival’ strategy.

“When you walk through native grasslands the more you realise how more we have to learn about them.”

“Native grasses and sedges are highly diverse and plentiful in the Eastern Hills,” said Mr McCallum.

“They are great colonisers providing habitat for native animals, birds and insects as well as producing organic matter providing much needed nutrients for the soil,” explained Mr McCallum.

“Red Gum Revival is a three year project which commenced last year and is due to conclude in 2020.”

The millennium drought, with low to little river flows and no flooding of the wetlands, really knocked the River Red Gums. The lack of flood flows down the watercourses took a great toll on these trees.

In addition to the drought overgrazing, soil disturbance and weed invasion has permanently changed the understory needed for the River Red Gums to thrive at their maximum.

We know from early records that the understory of the River Red Gum included perennial grasses and shrubs such as Saltbush.

“The Red Gum Revival project builds on the momentum of past land care efforts towards restoration of our remnant red gum forests and their understory,” concluded Mr McCallum.

Further information on the workings of the the Eastern Hills & Murray Plains Catchment Group can be found at and the Murray Bridge Community Nursery is open to the public Monday and Thursday from 9.00 AM to 3.00 PM.

Are you keen on gardening and wish to join the Murray Bridge Garden and Floral Art Club?  Meetings are held on the first Wednesday of the month at the Seventh Day Adventist Church hall in Murray Bridge.  Meetings start at 7.30 PM and finish by 10 PM. For further information about the club, please contact Mrs Chris Butcher 8532 3580 or 0419 856 414.

May competition results:

  • Fruit: 1st M McDougall, 2nd R & C Butcher, 3rd R & C Butcher
  • Large Garden Cut: 1st R & C Butcher, 2nd B Rule, 3rd R & C Butcher
  • Small Garden Cut: 1st B Rule, 2nd R & C Butcher, 3rd J & H Hansen
  • Rose Cut: 1st D Bolt, 2nd B Rule, 3rd R & C Butcher
  • Miniature Rose Single bloom: 1st R & C Butcher, 2nd R & C Butcher, 3rd R McCulloch
  • Vegetables: 1st U Wegener, 2nd S Patrick, 3rd B Rule
  • Home Produce: 1st B Rule, 2nd H & J Hansen, 3rd B Rule
  • Pots/Containers/Hanging Baskets: Equal 1st R & C Butcher & R & C Butcher, 3rd U Wegener
  • Craft: 1st B & D Hoffman, 2nd B Rule
  • Eggs: 1st B & D Hoffman
  • Chrysanthemum 1st R & C Butcher, 2nd R & C Butcher, 3rd R & C Butcher
  • Miniature Chrysanthemum: 1st M McDougall , 2nd M McDougall, Equal 3rd R & C Butcher & B Rule