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There is a reason why Victorian Alps Nursery is so unique

There is a reason why Victorian Alps Nursery is so unique

The Victorian Alps Nursery is a unique part of Mount Hotham Alpine Resort Management Board’s environmental program.  The nursery propagates a large variety of alpine and sub-alpine species for rehabilitation and restoration projects at all major Victorian ski resorts, Mount Buffalo, Kosciuszko National Park and NSW National Parks.

It is the only supplier of local provenance indigenous plants to Victorian Alpine areas and Ovens Valley.

Alpine plants are naturally conditioned to withstand cold temperatures, a short growth season and shallow alpine soil. Because of the conditions in which they grow in, the alpine plants can be difficult to grow in other climates. The Victorian Alpine Nursery uses various mixed medias to encourage the growth of these plants to their natural requirements to grow healthy and robust tube stock, while in hostile environments.

Nursery Manager and Horticulturalist Rebecca Read said that the nursery has been working hard to develop techniques to break seed dormancy, germinate and produce quality plants.

“We have had success with this, where others have failed and previously thought impossible to grow in a nursery,” Ms Read said.

“Climate is managed similar to any other plant nursery, however we do have to use cold treatment (stratification) to break seed dormancy on many alpine and lowland species.

“If our nursery didn’t exist then there would be no reliable supplier of plants to Victorian Alpine areas, which would impact on infrastructure works and the fulfilment of revegetation obligations.

“It would also impact on the rehabilitation and replanting of environmentally significant ecosystems affected by fire, deer, weed invasion,” she said.

There are over 150 species produced at the nursery, from snow gums to shrubs, wildflowers, grasses and wetland plants for alpine areas, and species indigenous to Ovens and Kiewa valleys including forest trees, shrubs, grasses, riparian (riverside) and other wetland plants.

The plants that are propagated at the nursery are sourced from specific areas and are used for their specific environments. This means that a plant which has been sourced from Mt Kosciusko cannot be replanted at Mount Hotham and vice versa.

The recent Mount Hotham Swindlers Valley pipeline upgrade saw the need for revegetation works to rejuvenate and replace the valley’s vegetation. Alpine Nursery supplied 40,000 plants to the Swindlers Valley floor, many of which have been planted by the Mount Hotham environment crew. An additional 2,000 alpine plants have gone into beautification works around Mount Hotham, and gardens are being established around the village entrance.

Other summer projects include 15,000 plants supplied to Mount Hotham Skiing Company to rehabilitate areas where snowmaking lines have recently been installed.

The nursery supplies Landcare and Alpine Shire lowland plants for riverside revegetation sites in towns from Omeo through to Myrtleford. It also has contract jobs, consultation, plant supply, planting and ongoing maintenance at Bakers Gully Dams in Bright, where the dam walls and spillways were rebuilt.

In 2003 and 2006, major fires went through the Bogong High Plains and Mount Buffalo which burnt out peatland. The nursery supplied alpine bog plants to rehab the severely affected areas.

The nursery currently holds 50,000 plants per year but can hold as many as 70,000 plants. Last year, 60,000 plants were sold and distributed from the nursery.

28 March 2017