Propagating Season

The Gardening Australia piece on TV recently about my nursery didn’t mention it is open by appointment only and is closed over the hottest months so I can get the seed collecting and propagating done.  I’ve been flooded with enquiries, but I am still in propagating mode, my plants are not quite ready for sale, and in my book it is not planting season yet! I do not buy in and re-sell plants. I have to produce them, and that takes time. Please be patient, do not turn up without calling first, and note that I prefer contact by landline 5476 2691 or email: natives@newstead.vicmail.net   It’s difficult to find time to also check Facebook and Instagram for messages when I have seeds to sow, seedlings to prick out, and thousands of plants to be watered. 

Outdoor benches are almost full at Newstead Natives Nursery, 12th March 2021

Every day I’m taking more and more boxes of luscious native plants out of the greenhouses where I start them off and place them on benches outdoors so they can ‘harden off’ in the elements before being sold and planted out. This step is important as it toughens the plants up, so that they don’t get a big shock when they get planted out, as they would if they were taken from that very sheltered environment and planted straight out into an exposed, windy paddock.  

I feel a bit like the librarian who likes a full, organised library and is loathe to let borrowers come in for books. Perhaps I’m being a bit over-protective of my babies, but I want to keep them at home until they are big and tough enough to cope with the big, wide world, and until the weather cools down some more. ‘Twas 30 degrees in Newstead yesterday, and the soil is still very dry.   Whatever you plant out this month you would have to water about twice a week, whereas if you just wait another month then the days will be cooler and shorter, and the plants will only need to be watered deeply on planting, and then nothing more until November. There will be enough rain and dew in the cooler months to keep them going.

Planting season (April to November) will come soon enough.  See you then! 

Gardening Australia visits Newstead Natives Nursery

Last winter a researcher for Gardening Australia contacted me and asked if I would like to be on their TV show. What an honour! They visited in mid-September when my garden was looking at its best. I was very nervous about it, but  everyone was very kind and patient with me.  ‘Twas so interesting to see how they went about things and how well they worked together as a team – producer Simon, presenter Millie, sound recordist Lynne and photographer Mark. They arrived at 7.45am and put in a very long day here with few breaks. I was impressed by their professionalism, and by how knowledgeable and enthusiastic all of them were about local native plants. Whenever Lynne and Millie weren’t needed they would drift over to the sales area choosing more plants to take home.

Millie Ross interviews Frances Cincotta in the nursery 16 September 2020

I haven’t seen the piece yet but it will be 8 to 10 minutes of this week’s one-hour show on ABC TV which starts at 7.30pm Friday 26th February, and is repeated at 1.31pm on Sunday. After that will be available to watch on iview. Mark put up a drone so I’m very curious to see that footage. By happy coincidence (and good pairing of topics) Lynne Stone will also be featured, showing her amazing 3-D embroideries of Australian native plants, which you can also see on her website.

‘Red Hooks’

I am enchanted by the silver-and-purple unfurling new leaves and tiny, deep red flower buds forming already in tubestock of Grevillea hookeriana ‘Red Hooks’. 

cutting-grown Grevillea ‘Red Hooks’ in the nursery


All of our local Grevillea species are less than 2m tall on maturity, and I’m often asked for the big dense Grevillea cultivars so I asked my neighbour Margaret for some cuttings from her splendid specimens that are obviously frost hardy and have glorious red flowers in Spring.

Margaret’s Grevillea hookeriana ‘Red Hooks’ putting on a show September 2020

New home for aquatics


My sister Marion brings ‘hard rubbish’ up to the nursery each time she visits from Melbourne. From these bountiful resources she has saved from becoming landfill, today Mike and I have made a tub for displaying aquatic plants in the nursery. Admittedly the pond liner is brand new, but was an off-cut gifted by a happy customer. 

Water Plantain and Streaked Arrow-grass are the first aquatics to try out the new tub at 
Newstead Natives

Late bloomer

Berries and flowers of Late-flowered Flax-lily (Dianella tarda), 10th February 2021 

Late-flowered Flax-lily is truly a Newstead Native. I collected the seed originally from plants naturally occurring on Mick Dwyer’s place in Codrington Street and now have several established in my garden. This species flowers later in the year than the more common Black-anther Flax-lily, and flowers late in the day – only after 2pm! Blue-banded Bees attend these flowers, but I’m struggling to get the flowers and berries both in focus let alone a busy native bee.

Skipper visit


White-banded Grass-dart (Taractrocera papyria) feeding on Slender Woodland-daisy (Brachyscome paludicola) 13th January 2021

My babies provide habitat before they even leave the nursery! Here a box of Slender Woodland Daisies in tubes are providing nectar for an adult White-banded Grass-dart. The larvae feed on native grasses which are plentiful in my nursery and garden. This invertebrate belongs in the ‘Skipper’ category, an intermediate form between butterflies and moths, and as their name implies they have a fast, darting flight.

Baby photos

Maireana rohrlachii (Rohrlach’s Blue-bush) from Lake Charm germinating four weeks after sowing.

OOh ’tis good to see this seed germinating! It hails from the Riverina, like me. I mostly propagate species indigenous to the Shire of Mount Alexander, but this seed was supplied by Damien Cook of Rakali Ecological Consulting who does a lot of great revegetating work with the Barapa Barapa mob in northern Vic.

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