In Flower This WeekA weekly news-sheet prepared by a Gardens volunteer
Numbers in brackets [ ] refer to garden bed 'Sections'.
This week the Gardens are in the full grip of winter, but despite the harsh season many plants, are showing off their unusual charms for our enjoyment. Also another feature of the Gardens in winter, is that as the many banksias and grevilleas come into flower, they are a rich source of nectar for many species of birds. Honeyeaters, in particular, are attracted to the banksias, and when walking quietly around the Gardens you may observe a largest resident honeyeater, the Wattle-bird, a greyish coloured bird with white stripes on its body, and a pale yellow mark on its belly. Another prominent species is the New Holland Honeyeater, which has a series of sharp calls. It is frequently seen perched on top of bushes. It is very distinctive, with bold black and white striping on its body, and a large gold flash on each wing. Another similar species, a winter visitor to the Gardens, is the Crescent Honeyeater, which also is predominantly black and white with gold markings on the wings. It is a secretive bird, which has a V pattern on its breast, and a loud two-syllable call.
As we leave the Visitor Centre, observe the diversity of foliage forms and colours on display. along the Banks Walk. Near where the Main Path returns from the Rain Forest Gully, on our left, you can see a low clump of growth of one of the many ground ferns, Blechnum penna-marina [Section 210]. This dark green Alpine Water Fern likes damp soils and often grows in moist rock crevices. Nearby, the light trusses of "leaves" cascading over the stone walls of the path embankment belong to Acacia cognata 'Green Mist' [Section 210]. As with many Acacias, this plant does not have true leaves, but rather phyllodes, which are a flattened stem structure which perform the function of leaves. It is an attractive rock garden feature plant for this climate. Further along the Banks Walk, there are several silvery plants which provide an interesting contrast in form and colour. Eremophila glabra 'Murchison Magic' [Section 210] has a few of its small scarlet flowers showing, but its real atttraction is as a foliage contrast plant. Nearby, Leucophyta brownii [Section 210], which is also known as "Cushion Bush" has an unusual wiry structure of silvery leaves and stems. Tiny scale-like leaves are pressed against the stems
Across the Banks Walk there is another contrasting feature plant, Melichus adpressus [Section 174]. It has has dense dark green spires of stiff leaves. Just a few paces along can be seen the soft lipstick pink flowers of Crowea saligna [Section 174]. This is the first of many Croweas you will see in flower in the Gardens this week. Their delicate beauty belies their hardiness, welcoming the frosts with their pink blossoms.
As you progress towards the Rainforest Gully, you pass a cluster of Xanthorrhoea or "grass trees" [Section 60]. These spectacular plants are very slow growing members of the Lily family. They are noted for their long thin leaves protruding in all directions.
Following the Main Path past the kiosk you will come to the "Friends Lounge", where there are many Croweas in flower [Section 240] They are best seen from near the magnificent silvery trunks of a pair of Eucalyptus mannifera or Brittle Gums [Section 240]. These trees are native to Black Mountain. On the far end of this garden bed is an excellent specimen of a Banksia integrifolia (prostrate form) [Section 240] which is just coming into flower. This interesting specimen is only a few centimetres high. By contrast, there is a tall specimen of the same species growing approximately 5 metres high, beside the Main Path about 200 metres further along, in Section 30. Outside the Banks building is another interesting banksia, Banksia 'Giant Candles' [Section 143] which holds its flowers on tall cones, approximately 25 cm long. Each cone is a structure consisting of thousands of paired flowers, with the styles protruding in the form of little hooks from the rich amber-coloured flowers.
Prepared by Penny Hills and Denis Wilson
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'In Flower' Weeks