Australian Beauties

Spring is here, even in spite of the rain, the cold and the snow. But the terrible weather we’ve had recently isn’t conducive to thinking about what needs to be done in the garden,  so maybe it’s a good time to share a few images of the flora from my recent visit to Australia. Apologies for the patchy use of Latin names!

Staghorn Fern in Brisbane’s Mt Coot-tha Botanic Gardens – You can often see these epiphytic ferns growing in the wild (and sometimes in cities, too)

Yep, it’s an aubergine! But coming from a cold miserable British winter to see these babies ripening nicely outside in Brisbane was quite profound.

A Hibiscus flower in Sydney Botanic Gardens

A Banksia in King’s Park, Perth. I hadn’t realised just how big the park is. This Banksia was in the extensive indigenous area – just like walking through the bush!

More Banksias. I believe these orange ones may be Banksia hookeriana, known as Australian honeysuckle. The flowers look like they should be soft to the touch, but in fact they’re quite solid.

King’s Park again: this is the famed Nuytsia floribunda, or Western Australian Christmas Tree. Last time I was in Perth, King’s Park had one of these in full flower – four metres tall and full of spectacular bright orange-yellow flower clusters. This time I couldn’t find it (well, it’s not flowering time, so it wasn’t so easy) so I had to ask one of the staff. It turns out that the one I’d seen had died, and all they had was these two tiny specimens in the centre of a roundabout.

Nuytsia is a very interesting plant. Most of the time it looks scrappy, but around Christmas time it turns into a real beauty. The interesting part is that it’s a mistletoe – a hemi-parasite whose roots seek out and attach themselves to the roots of other trees, from which it gets most of it’s nutrients. It seems that you need the right mix of plants in the locality to grow it in the long-term – without that, it grows fine for a few years, but then dies.

Legend has it that the local Nyungar people consider it to be sacred. When people die, their souls go up into the branches of the Moojara (there are numerous spellings of the Nyungar name recorded) where they wait to be taken across the sea to the island of Wadjemup (now more widely known as Rottnest).
Last, but not least, Eucalyptus rhodantha (common name, Rose Mallee) in King’s park. Similar to Eucalyptus macrocarpa, which is also native to Western Australia, it has bright silver foliage and these large, stunning flowers

So, remind me why I came home? Oh, yes; I didn’t have a choice! Oh well, at least we’ve got the summer to look forward to…


Words and images © Graham Wright 2018

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