winter activity

It’s a grey, drizzly day, the kind that makes me want to stay in my pyjamas all day and cook warm, gooey food. But I needed to go and have a look at a garden I am working on and so rugged up and headed out- the upside of having my car irrevocably damaged in a car accident last week (luckily no one was hurt!) is that I have been walking a lot more! I see so much more this way and, on the way there and back, was reminded how active Australian plants are in winter. Unlike many species coming from cooler parts of the world, our flora does most of its flowering and seed-producing in winter and spring, I imagine in order to avoid risking everything in our often harsh, unpredictable summers. They do what is required in order to sustain the life of the species in the cooler months and then sustain their own life by going into a semi-dormant state over the hottest part of the year! This habit is particularly true for trees, such as our iconic eucalypts and acacias:

Soft pink and grey-green; Eucalyptus sideroxylon

Flower buds; Eucalyptus caesia

Spectacular flowers; Eucalytpus caesia

Peeling bark; Eucalyptus caesia

Flowers and buds; Eucalyptus

The first of thousands of flowers; Acacia acinacea

Golden rod flowers; Acacia longifolia var. sophora

First flowers on our own wattles; Acacia boormannii

Orange fruit and seed displayed for the birds; Pittosporum angustifolium

Flower buds in the leaf axils cause these stems to zigzag; Agonis flexuosa

Petals fallen, leaving behind globular fruit; Agonis flexuosa

Huge orange inflorescences; Banksia spinulosa

Detail; Banksia spinulosa

Other smaller species are also winter-flowerers- or flower more prolifically at this time of year than in the warmer months:

Vibrant winter colour; Hardenbergia violacea

Going for broke; Hardenbergia violacea

Our own fine and less showy species of clematis; Clematis microphylla

I love seeing the long styles on grevilleas uncurl as the spine of the individual flowers open. The flower transforms from a curled-up woolly tube to an explosion of colour!

Styles tucked in; Grevillea cultivar

Unfurling styles; Grevillea cultivar

Styles out; Grevillea cultivar

Given how much rain we have already had and the number of flowers around, I imagine that there will be a lot of seed produced this year- which is great news for growers after the last few years of very poor seed availability… and if you need any plants and are inclined towards the indigenous, try VINC in Fairfield. It is a great, community-run nursery producing great-quality stock and the staff are really knowledgeable about our local flora.

6 thoughts on “winter activity

  1. Jen

    Hi Jules, I’ve got a daggy plant question for you and it’s something I REALLY should know the answer to.

    What is the name of the tree I’m about to describe.

    It grows very large, the one I remember would easily be 10 meters high. It has a rough, woody bark, flowers that look like a grevillia but more comb like and it drips nectar all over the place. There was one in my primary school and we used to steal the flowers, dip them in water and drink the syrup.the flowers are bright golden.

    Leave are dark green, and I think they are glossy on top and dull underneath. They are very segmented and look grevillia/wattle like rather than “leaf” shaped. I see them a lot in the Riverina.

    It’s been driving me nuts that I don’t know what it’s called.

    Any thoughts? Your pictures of grevillias are great by the way.

    – Jen

    Reply
      1. jen

        Yay! I think that’s it. I haven’t seen many since moving to Victoria, but that could just be because I’m not paying attention.

        I remember when my year 4 class got in trouble for dipping the flowers into rainwater puddles and then drinking the syrup. Nothing like the robust immune system of a 9 year old with no sense of hygiene.
        thanks

        jen

        Reply

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