By Brad Lester, Editor, The Star newspaper. 2010

AN INFLUX of people to the Venus Bay peninsula over the years has changed the environment of this natural wonder. Houses now sit on sand dunes and roads carve paths through the bush, and with humans have come plants previously unknown in this coastal setting.

A group of volunteers is working to return the landscape to a hint of its past by removing foreign flora and replanting indigenous species. The Friends of Venus Bay Peninsula group has established the Venus Bay Indigenous Gardens project. Two sites have been established so far: the surrounds of the Venus Bay Community Centre and a parcel of public land at the corner of Louis and Canterbury roads.

Friends co-convenor Mae Adams speaks about the project.

“We hope that people will see these plants and be encouraged to plant them on their own land to help retain the vegetation that is naturally here, and by doing so, give a home to wildlife. For example our beautiful Australian butterflies need native grasses, flowering shrubs and flowering trees for different stages of their growth cycle. The complex interdependence of Australian wildlife with native plants is not widely understood” she explained.

More than 3500 seedlings have been planted so far including groundcovers, creepers, trees and shrubs creating a demonstration garden of coastal indigenous plants and an ecosystem capable of sustaining wildlife. Seed was collected locally and the plants propagated, with the advice of botanists and officers from the Department of Sustainability and Environment.

The gardens surrounding the community centre are the most prolific site so far, with native clematis, daisies and even wombat burrows. Visitors can wander an informal walking track through the gardens. The project began in 2006 and several government grants over time have literally seen the project blossom.

“It takes time to develop because we have to first remove the non-indigenous plants and the new ones take some years to establish,” Ms Adams said.

The natural surrounds of the peninsula were among the attractions for Ms Adams when she moved to Venus Bay in the 1980s. Today, the Friends group works with Trust for Nature, BirdLife Australia, Coastcare Victoria, Landcare, South Gippsland Shire Council and Parks Victoria to help preserve the local natural environment.

Press release for Garden Design workshop 7/10/2008

Garden Design Workshop at Venus Bay

Friends of Venus Bay Peninsula are hosting a free Garden Design Workshop, ‘Planning an Indigenous Garden’, on Sunday 2nd November 2008 from 2pm to 4.30pm.

The community is invited to come and learn how to design a garden using local native plants. The workshop will be led by Lorraine Norden, a member of the Friends group and a qualified horticulturalist. Lorraine manages a community indigenous plant nursery in Box Hill. She will show you how to create a coastal garden that is attractive, drought tolerant and provides habitat for our birds, butterflies and other native animals.

Lorraine says “Venus Bay is a special place and this workshop will provide advice on using the local vegetation in landscaping to help retain its unique character”.

The workshop is being held at the Venus Bay Community Centre and includes a guided walk through the recently established indigenous garden in the grounds of the centre. The indigenous garden and this workshop have been funded by a grant to the Friends from the Australian Government Envirofund, a Commonwealth Government initiative that helps communities undertake local projects aimed at conserving biodiversity and sustainable resource use.