Coastal wildflowers from Albany Western Australia

Hi All,

I was just hunting for renovation pictures for a few prospective posts and found a group of photos that I had taken on one of my many early walking sessions around town that I used to do daily at 5am when I lived in Albany Western Australia. I would walk from where we lived in the centre of the city, down the highway and to Middleton beach which at that stage still had a good hotel. The City council had decided to put in a wooden boardwalk around the coastal scenic area for tourists to be able to walk around and for the locals to add to their fitness regimes. I loved walking around the boardwalk early in the morning just as the lizards were waking up (and before the snakes were out sunbathing on the concrete paths). I took a camera with me one day and took some photos of some of the wildflowers that were on the side of the path. To my horticultural friends here in Tasmania who might not be aware of this area of Australia, the soil here is predominately sandy limestone (alkaline) soil. Very loose and free draining except when the sandy particles are very small and it tends to get very hydrophobic. Despite the arid conditions that most of these wild flowers have to survive in, the plant diversity in Western Australia is some of the most interesting and prevalent in Australia. Nearly 80 percent of the plant species in Southwest Australia are found nowhere else in the world, including many of the brightly-coloured members of the genus Banksia. 47% of Australia’s plant species are endemic to Western Australia. A close second to Queensland who has 49% thanks to their tropical rainforest conditions.

Here are a couple of websites that you might be interested in if you are of a horticultural lien and are interested in the importance of Western Australian plants within the Australian native realm

The above page is predominately about how important the South Western tip of Western Australia actually is in the scheme of our native Australian Flora

This next site is somewhere that I have visited on numerous occasions to get information needed for previous horticultural courses that we have taken. It’s got a whole lot of statistical information and it’s a government site which means that it is able to be used for statistical purposes and the information that we gleaned from this site was deemed ‘trustworthy’ for using in reports etc.

Here are the pictures of the wildflowers that I took about 7 years ago…

Commonly known as Purdie’s donkey orchid, Diuris brumalis is one of the very first native species that most people notice in Western Australia. Its a very striking orchid and very prevalent througout the lower south west. They love sandy coastal areas and this one was within sea spray range and apparently very happy. If you want to learn more about this and other endemic Western Australian orchids you can find information in the following sites where you can download PDF’s.

Here’s the picture that I took on my walk along the boardwalk in Albany Western Australia

When I was a little girl my family moved from the small township of Denmark out to a 100acre farm on the Albany highway. It totally changed me, in that I spent hours wandering around the native bushland that went from the highway and bordered on Wilson’s inlet. I was so very lucky to be able to have those years of my life spent learning about nature first hand. Watching things growing, learning about life cycles and this is what set me up for my love of native orchids. My grandmother lived on the other side of Wilson’s inlet and her property, although smaller than the farm, also bordered on Wilson’s inlet and as children we were able to borrow my Grandfather’s small dinghy and row out to a little island and explore. There were areas of native bushland all around back then and I couldn’t wait to head off hunting for orchids on “Orchid Rock” as my siblings and I fondly called a rocky outcrop that yielded an amazing array of native wildflowers. The most prized of orchids were the spider orchids and blood orchids. I didn’t get any photographs of these orchids on my boardwalk trip but if you check out the links below you can see just how lovely, delicate and totally improbable they are. Isn’t nature an amazing thing to give us wonderous flora and fauna and every single one of these amazing wildflowers has adapted to their environment and over millions of years have become the specific plants that we see now. It most certainly puts a lot of trivial things in perspective. Here are the sites where you can see the spider orchids etc…

I love hunting out websites for this blog. I find out so much in doing so and learn heaps. Thanks guys :o)

This next flower is a fringed lily or Thysanotus multiflorus. Again, it’s one of the native wildflowers that really catches visitors eyes. I used to think that these little lilies were orchids until I did a bit more research. You can read more about them and download a PDF (if you are interested) here…

As you can see, the soil that these wildflowers grows in is predominately white sand with a bit of darker sand underneath. The vegetation is quite sparse and so these wildflowers are very hardy and able to survive the hot sun in summer with relatively low rainfall. The climate is listed as  Mediterranean and so these little plants are quite used to living a hard life. I often wonder why more of them are not commercially exploited and made more available to people through nurseries to grow at home.

This next photo is of a member of the leschenaultia family. Not quite sure which one but this species is one of Australia’s most noted plants. A low ground cover, they are predominately blue flowering with some red and yellow varieties especially the wreath leschenaultia which is an amazing plant flowering on the outside of the plant giving the effect of a wreath. I don’t have a photo of this one either, but if you want to see it, you can go to the following site to take a peek. Spectacular flower and again, totally peculiar to Australia

Here’s my version, not the vibrant sky blue one, but still very pretty. By the way if this ISN’T a leschenaultia, please let me know. I have always been under the impression that it is, but who knows with Australian wildflowers!

You know me and I just HAD to check to make sure that this was in fact a leschenaultia and it isn’t! Its a Dampiera diversifolia and I just found an amazing WA council series of PDF’s on planting a sustainable road verge! Again, hunting for this blog has given me more than I expected. Check out this series if you are interested in planting an interesting native road verge. If it will survive in the baking hot sun in Victoria Park, it will survive anywhere!

Apparently you can buy Dampiera diversifolia in native plant nurseries. I don’t know a lot about native plants to be honest. I have spent most of my horticutural studies learning about exotic species. I figure that these wildflowers are all around me and I can study them at my leisure, the exotic species are going to take more of my time and effort and so I have put them first. Don’t worry Australian natives, you are next!

This next photo is of a small native native triggerplant. I, and many other Aussie born children learned to love this little plant because when you touch the stamen of the flower it springs forwards. This mechanism is to spray pollen and damp a little pollen on an insects (usually a native bee) back whilst at the same time picking up pollen from other trigger flowers that have done the same thing. Ingenious isn’t it! Surely that is why Australian’s tend to be lateral thinkers? At least those living in inhospitable places, out in the country and those that have to think their way around having to live in our Australian climate with all of the problems that this entails. It’s a member of the Stylidium family and apparently the triggerplant family of more than 230 species noted so far and with more being discovered every day, is the fifth most diverse family of plants in Australia. I didn’t realise that the far South West of Western Australia, where I was born and where I lived until I was 17, has been named a Biodiversity Hotspot. I had mentioned this in an earlier post but didn’t realise that it’s the ONLY Biodiversity Hotspot listed in Australia! Well done in recognising that fact all of you boffin’s. We all knew about it for years but apparently it’s only just been listed and that should mean that the powers that be should be giving it a bit more attention and the tourist dollars might start to flow back where they should go in Western Australia. Here’s one of the little trigger plants that makes childhood in “the bush”  in W.A. so much fun :o)

I think that might actually be a true leschenaultia to the left hand side of the picture! At least my rambling on about them can now be relevant to this post!

My last photo, but by no means least, is of the Albany endemic Bottlebrush. Its botanical name is Callistemon glaucus and its common name is “The Showy Bottlebrush”. This particular specimen was growing, again, in shallow sandy soil and you would think that this would render a plant tough, wiry and relatively boring but just take a look at the amazing flower that comes from this species endemic only to the Albany area…

what a beauty eh? I think that you can see that from this small space of sparce and arid scrub on the side of a cliff leading directly into the Indian ocean and the plants that I took photos of (which were only those in flower and only the flowers that I was actually interested in at the time) just why they have named the South West corner of Western Australia a Biodiversity hotspot. This is what started me on my journey of discovery regarding plants. As a 10 year old I read avidly and to keep up with my mad desire to learn everything that I could from books my grandmother and mother bought me a box of assorted books from a local thrift shop. I waded through the assorted, mostly non fiction, books and discovered a copy of a botanical book that I became fascinated with. I can’t remember the name of that book but I decided that I was going to be a Botanist when I grew up. I guess that I am not too far from my childhood dream. I have no idea what this avenue of exploration will take Steve and I, but it is giving us the most amazing grounding in how to develop and implement our forest garden so who knows…all those years ago perhaps my fanciful ideals led us down this path to ultimately share what we are learning with other people who want to live more sustainably and plant out their own forest garden?

I believe in sharing what I learn with anyone that wants to know. The more that we learn and the more that I research about forest gardening and agroforestry, the more excited I get. Anyone can do this. It’s not something that whacked out hippies giving their lives over to weird fungus have a magic key to. It’s for all of us and it’s the most sustainable way to grow our own food. If you couple forest gardening with aquaponics (the process of growing plants and fish in a closed circuit) it is almost certain that you can reduce your food bills accordingly. You don’t need acres of land to have a forest garden. I have seen 1/8th of an acre blocks turned over to forest gardens with amazing results. In researching forest gardens I have also discovered networks of people out there patenting processes and making them open to the public so that big business can’t patent these processes and stop everyone using them. I will share a lot more about forest gardening as we take more giant steps along this path. At the moment we are like babes in the woods with this concept and I plan on learning all that I can about it so as to take greatest advantage of those that have gone before us and flattened the pathway, learning from their mistakes and victories. I got an email this morning telling me that we are now members of the Agroforestry register in the U.K. from none other than Martin Crawford himself. You might not know who this man is, but Earl certainly does. He nibbled the spine from my library book which is being touted as the new Forest Garden ‘bible’ by everyone concerned with agroforestry and as such has ‘absorbed’ more of this amazing man and his work than I have had a chance to do so as of yet!

Time to head off outside to take Pingu on her daily pigrimage to her ‘day coop’ where she spends time out in the sunshine surounded by her peers without the danger of being scoffed because of her lack of chickenese understanding. One of the silver wyandotte’s babies ‘disapeared’ yesterday. We are not blaming the cats as there are just as many crows, eagles, magpies, butcherbirds and currawongs around here all hungry and willing to scoff a poor undefended tiny little fluff ball. One of her babies was always off to the side of her peeping for attention and she favoured the one that she still has left so if any chicken was going to bite the dust (or have something else bit it’s dust) it was going to be that poor little fellow. I guess you have to get hardened to nature when you live so close to it, but being the soft hearted people that we are, Steve and I can’t help but feel sorry for the poor little chick that lost it’s life. We have been feeding the ferals 2 tins of cat food a night to stop them eyeing off our remaining chicks hungrily and the chicks are now 6 weeks old and getting bigger every day. We are trying not to notice the prospective roosters squaring off with each other but some day soon we are going to have to pay attention as at least one of them is an enormous white leghorn which is most probably going to take over dominance one day. I will keep you posted…Pingu is protesting loudly and generally making an almighty mess in Steve’s music room so I had best remove her to her day coop for the sake of some peace and quiet. I hope that you all liked this little trip down my horticultural memory lane. I wasn’t even all that into plants when I took these photos, I just loved the wildflowers. See you all tomorrow


5 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. mum
    Dec 01, 2011 @ 09:05:53

    Who knew you’d be into horticulture at this stage of your life Pen? It really gets to you, & reading your blog about when you were young going to orchid rock etc, was the beginning eh? It was sneakily ingrained in you then, & as you remember, gran loved her gardens & the bush. Enjoy it while you can, as the bush is rapidly being taken by developers in their ruthless chase for money, bugger the forrest & what it does for the world. there must be an exciting variety of wild flowers over there in Tasmania for you to get to know too. We do have quite a variety of native orchids, & I wonder just how many city people know about them eh? Too busy living in the smog & keeping up with the Joneses! Give me the country for sanity & peace of mind. You & Steve are going to have a very interesting forrest acreage there, so go for it. Mix the natives with the exotics,& who knows, as you find hot or dry spots around in shelter, you may get most of the WA natives to grow! It’s a thought isn’t it? Little pockets of rock here & there might be the go, I think you can spare a few of those eh? Maybe further up the hill at the back will be suitable ?
    The way land developers are ruthlessly trying to denude the earth, we may not have many pockets of true forrest left soon, mores the pity! It’s going to be hot again here, so love your outdoors!


  2. Pinky
    Dec 01, 2011 @ 11:25:10

    Many happy memories of tootling about on the inlet either in the old row boat/punt or underneath it with goggles on. Remember netting for shrimp that Gran or us would boil up on the stove and eat with bread, butter and vinigar? And the all pervading, composing decay like smell of the thick black mud from the inlet in summer? I think our childhood was, all things considered, pretty carefree and idyllic in the things we were left to our own devices to do and find out about. It was only 35-40 years ago but we had much more “freedom” to find out about things and life rather than have it shoved in our faces and broadcast over the world wide web. I’m going to go have a lie down before work now that I realize I was 11, 35 years ago!!!!!! Who is that wrinkled fatty I see reflected back at me? Bloody body snatchers have a lot to answer for!


  3. athursdayschild has a long way to go and much to be thankful for.
    Apr 19, 2013 @ 06:39:11

    I’ve enjoyed reading to December. Now, it’s time to figure out dinner for Chris.


    • narf77
      Apr 19, 2013 @ 06:46:06

      I think I am going to have to find you an award for being my best reader EVER :). You make my stats look great. I should be paying you to read my posts but the moth eaten sock under the bed says “no” 😉


    • narf77
      Apr 19, 2013 @ 06:46:06

      I think I am going to have to find you an award for being my best reader EVER :). You make my stats look great. I should be paying you to read my posts but the moth eaten sock under the bed says “no” 😉


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