Celebrating the work of Jill Warneke

A giant chocolate cake, a certificate of appreciation and a stirring round of applause marked our AGM’s celebration of Jill Warneke. Since the establishment of the nursery in 1997, Jill has been its driving force as the volunteer coordinator. Her dedication, enthusiasm, hard work and leadership has meant that the nursery has grown from a few boxes of plants in 1997 to the sale of 14,500 plants and the donation of 3,500 plants in 2018.

Jill supervised 30 regular volunteers who are found every Wednesday morning hard at work at the nursery and later relaxing with a cuppa and some of Jill’s famous fruit cake. She taught volunteers to propagate indigenous plants from local seeds and cuttings, which are planted in the Borough and surrounding areas, thus helping to maintain the area’s unique biodiversity.

Former SBEA committee member, Guy Werner, said that under Jill’s guidance ‘plant sales, donations and volunteer numbers have burgeoned and landscapes around the Bellarine have changed for the better. Jill’s dedication is unparalleled’.

In her role as nursery coordinator, Jill has developed and maintained extensive and valuable records of indigenous plant species. She has also taken responsibility for ensuring that appropriate numbers of each species have been propagated and grown.

Jill has ensured that the nursery remained noncommercial and indigenous. It is highly regarded by both scientific and conservation organisations and the general community. Only local provenance (i.e. seeds and growth from the local indigenous vegetation) is used to propagate the species. Attention is also given to maintaining rare and endangered plants, particularly as the only known surviving specimens of some plants are in the historic properties of Arilpa and Ballara in Point Lonsdale.

All who are involved with the nursery will miss Jill’s expertise, organisational skills, commitment, and her ability to make each volunteer feel wanted, needed and important.

In other news: ‘Our new Nursery Coordinator’ Sarah Roberts; Borough funding for Gardens for Wildlife; ‘Riding on a penguin’s back’; ‘Water quality report on ‘The Point’”; ‘Caring for our Bays conference’.

Our new nursery coordinator

On her first day at SBEA’s Indigenous Plant Nursery, its new coordinator, Sarah Roberts, said that this ‘feels like a lovely community and network’. Since then Sarah has been finding her feet with the assistance of past co-ordinator, Jill Warneke, and other volunteers.

Sarah comes to the Borough and her new nursery role with wide experience in horticulture and plant propagation. She previously worked in Alice Springs at the Botanic Gardens and in an indigenous plant nursery, as well as having been involved in the Millennium Seedbank Program at the Melbourne Herbarium.

Sarah is excited to work with local saltbush plants that have a harsh coastal environment and some overlap with the harsh arid environments of the northern species. She likes the challenges and techniques of growing more difficult plants, experimenting with different ways of propagating, and trying to work with new species for propagation.

Sarah’s role will be made easier by the extensive library of information built up over Jill Warneke’s the 22 years nursery management. Each plant is described and extensive propagation notes are testament to the expertise contained at the nursery.

Sarah said she is looking forward to learning the variations, subtle treatments and techniques for the indigenous plants. She also indicated that the excellent systems and information on hand are a great community resource.

When she is not at the local nursery, Sarah teaches a variety of subjects at the Gordon TAFE – plant identification, re-vegetation, seed collection, plant propagation and establishment, soils, pruning, OHS and machinery. These subjects form essential components of the Certificates and Diplomas in Horticulture, Conservation and Land Management. No doubt Sarah will bring her extensive knowledge to support the strength of the Indigenous Nursery into the future.

In other news: Borough funding for Gardens for Wildlife; ‘Riding on a penguin’s back’; ‘Water quality report on ‘The Point’”; ‘Caring for our Bays conference’.