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In Flower This Week

A weekly news-sheet prepared by a Gardens volunteer 
Numbers in brackets [ ] refer to garden bed 'Sections'.

14 April 2000

Just as the colourful autumn shades of Canberra's exotic trees start to show, the fascinating colours and shapes of our native banksias emerge. This walk will concentrate mostly on banksias. Firstly, see near the bus shelter Chrysocephalum apiculatum [Section 174], dense and low spreading and dotted with small orange flower heads. Scaevola 'Pink Perfection' [Section 174] displays its perfectly pink flowers along trailing stems. Dampiera sylvestris [Section 174], in the crescent shaped bed, is a small plant with deep blue flowers on upright stems.

Towards the end of the Café building, Bracteantha bracteata 'Diamond Head' [Section 131] shows off its yellow straw daisies amid the fresh green foliage. Banksia integrifolia subsp. integrifolia [Section 240] is prostrate with silver-backed leaves and delicate lemon flower spikes rising from the ground-hugging branches. Grevillea 'Poorinda Spinebill' [Section 240] is dense with slim, deeply divided leaves and long red toothbrush-like flowers. Over the path, Callistemon 'Baroonda Station' [Section 143] is decorated with soft pink bottlebrush flowers while Callistemon viminalis [Section 143] has red bottlebrushes on a large, weeping shrub.

Passing the Banks Building, view the elongated golden cylindrical flower spikes of Banksia 'Giant Candles' [Section 143]. Find the Swamp Banksia, Banksia robur [Section 13], near the stream. See the juvenile green buds, mostly at the base of this many-branched shrub with large, leathery leaves. Grevillea diminuta [Section 178], opposite, is interesting for it has fine pendulous strands of rust coloured flowers. Watching over the sleeping wombat, Banksia ericifolia var. ericifolia [Section 143] is massed with dazzling gold flower spikes. At the road junction, Callistemon citrinus 'Austraflora Firebrand' [Section 32] is a dense shrub alight with fiery red bottlebrushes.

There are many more banksias in this area. Size, foliage and flower colour vary and are worth comparing. Banksia conferta var. conferta [Section 28] is a small tree with dull green leaves in whorls and cream to tan-coloured flower spikes. Behind, Banksia conferta var. penicillata [Section 28] is a large rounded shrub with long flower spikes which are an almost luminous green. Banksia paludosa [Section 28] is a smaller rounded shrub with pale yellow to quite brown flower spikes.

Venture into the inner area. Take time to sit surrounded by these lovely plants. Behold the vivid red flower spike, so close. It is Banksia occidentalis [Section 27], tall and scraggly. The flower heads are actually cream, the bright colour is provided by the dense array of red hooked styles. This species is from W.A.; the other species in this area are from the eastern states. The bird life here is so musical and colourful, all indulging in the nectar of these flowers. Leave time on your way back to find and marvel at another Banksia robur [Section 25], for its flowers, although bottle-green in colour, look nearly black … something to marvel at.

Such remarkable flowers … Barbara Daly.


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