Christmas flowers

As Christmas approaches, the orange flowers of Nuytsia floribunda are a brilliant sight throughout Perth and the southwest. They’re called Christmas trees for the timing of their flowering, and are so much better than the fir Christmas tree people decorate. Nuytsia decorate themselves in a golden Christmas glow.

Nuytsia floribunda

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What plant is that? Zamia

Macrozamia fraseri and Macrozamia riedlei are types of Cycad. The Cycadales Order is an ancient group of plants that have lived since the Permian era, more than 200 million years ago. [1] Australia’s Macrozamias could have been eaten by dinosaurs! I knew them as Dinosaur Plants when I was a kid.

Macrozamia fraseri in bushland

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Northern Suburbs Plant Sale

hoverfly on ranunculus in my bog garden

hoverfly on Ranunculus

Do you want local native plants for your garden?

The Northern Suburbs Branch of the Wildflower Society of WA is having a plant sale next Saturday.

Assorted tube stock $4

Saturday 23 April 9am-3pm

Landsdale Farm School

cnr Landsdale & Evandale Rd, Darch

Many of the pond and bog plants in my garden came from this nursery. They provide advice on the best plants for your location and how to grow them.

Agrostocrinum scabrum

blue grass lily in my bog garden

Banksia menziesii

banksia flower

Banksia menziesii is currently painting the bushland in hues of pink and yellow. Flowers range from pink and red through orange and coppery shades to brilliant yellow. [1] Some plants always flower yellow, some always pink, and some start the flowering season yellow and as winter temperatures drop, later opening flowers tend toward pink and red. [2] This tree at Richard Guelfi Reserve (below) always has yellow flowers. Behind it is a pink flowering Banksia menziesii.

yellow Banksia menziesii

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Growing a Woolly Bush Hedge

Update: please see this comprehensive post about growing Albany Woolly Bush.

woolly bush hedge then and now

I’ve been asked for an update on the woolly bush hedge I planted behind my house. The back of my house faces west, very bad in terms of passive solar design, because when the back verandah was enclosed, some clever person put in a wall of windows. Every summer afternoon my back room bakes, lightly toasting the rest of the house. It’s a nice place to pass a sunny winter afternoon, but for half the year my house is unpleasantly hot. A hedge of locally endemic plants was my solution.

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Pond Matters

villarsia flowers in summer

The rain over the past couple of days has filled the pond in my garden and it’s very close to overflowing. I planted Phlebocarya ciliata, a bog plant, in the area where the overflow will run, so it should enjoy this winter wet area. It’s in the Haemodoraceae family along with kangaroo paws. The plant structure looks similar, but it likes damp swampy ground, unlike kangaroo paws. I also got hoary twine rush (Meeboldina cana) for the water and removed one of the Villarsia from the water and planted it in the overflow area. Villarsia like boggy areas or shallow water, so it should do as well in the ground as it did in the pond.

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Orchid Season

brown-veined shell orchid

Over 300 species and subspecies of terrestrial orchids (of the family Orchidaceae) are found in the south-west of Western Australia, the largest number of terrestrial orchids in Australia [1]. My friends at Nuts about Natives have 18 species of orchids growing in the bush on their property (another species hasn’t yet flowered, but when it does it will be the 19th). I was lucky enough to see four of the early flowering ones in all their glory at the beginning of July.

The terrestrial orchids (of which Australia has many species) form mycorrhizas and need fungal partners in order for seedlings to survive beyond the germination stage. In at least some species the orchid needs the fungus throughout the orchid’s life. In these associations the orchid gets the better deal and in effect harvests the fungus. [2]

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My Native Garden

Sheeba inspecting the new plants

After planning my new native garden, it’s actually happened. I got the plants from my friends at Nuts about Natives and the new arrivals are now planted and growing for the birds and insects to enjoy. Most of them are native to Perth around the area I live.

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Regeneration after Fire

jarrah growing back after fire

In March there was a deliberately lit fire in Star Swamp Bushland Reserve. Last month, after time and rain, I went to see how the regeneration was progressing and it was amazing. The birds were singing everywhere. Ben from Nuts about Natives told me the dead looking zamias would be fine and they were sprouting up everywhere (from their burnt base).

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