23 August 2009

Central Coast Spring Flowers

We on the east coast of Australia are willing to fly right over the other side of the country to ooh and aah over the West Australian wild flowers during their spring season. I did this myself a couple of years ago and, of course, they were worth the visit. But this year on the Central Coast of New South Wales we are having a stupendous wild flower season of our own. If you head north from Sydney and take the old Pacific Highway instead of the freeway you will see pink, dark pink, yellow and white in great profusion. It really is a stunning year for flowers.

Along the F4 freeway the various Acacias have been blooming for a month or more now now, ranging from pale lemon right through to dark yellow. All of them stunning and all of them attractive to native birds and butterflies.
If your colour is pink – as mine is, you can’t go past Eriostemon australasius. There is an absolute profusion of pink flowers on this shrub which grows to about 1 ½ metres, and this year all of that 1 1/2 metres is covered in flowers. The buds are pale pink as well and look like tiny wrapped up parcels. This shrub can easily be seen from your car as your head north from about Hornsby. Stop the car and have a look.

The darker pink which grows in the same conditions, and sets off the pale pink so nicely, is Boronia. There are almost 20 varieties of Boronia in the Sydney district and almost all of them have pink flowers. The pink is a particularly attractive colour, several shades darker than the Eriostemon, and stunning where the two are growing in close proximity, as they often are. The Boronia I noticed in the last few weeks is the Sydney Boronia, Boronia ledifolia. The name is misleading as it is widespread in sandstone coast communities right the way down to Victoria. The flowers only have four petals whereas the Eriostemons have 5. Some have attractive dark pink buds, quite a contrast with the paler pink flowers.

All that pink looks just gorgeous next to the pale lemon blooms of Acacia ulicifolia. All the shrubs I saw were a mass of pale lemon.

Also flowering was Acacia oxycedrus, again pale lemon and a profusion of bloom, this time with long rods instead of fluffy little balls.

Along side the lemons and pinks was the stronger yellow of little Dillwynia sericea. A tiny little pea flower, yellow with a red throat. Very pretty indeed.

In the same Fabaceae family was this little gem. A small plant, less than ½ metre with interesting long shoots tipped with tiny yellow pea flowers. Very attractive and mixing well with all the pinks.

For even more yellow see Gompholobium latifolum. This flower is quite large, at least four times the time of the previous little pea flower, and such a lovely clear yellow

If you prefer your spider flowers in red then look at Grevillea diffusa ssp filipendula ore even Grevillea sericea ssp sericea if pink remains your colour of choice.

Lower down underneath the more showy pinks and yellows was this funny little plant, commonly called Rusty Petals. I’m unsure if it is Lasiopetalum parviflorum or L. joyceae.

The tiny little sun orchids were out as well. Pale lavender, and just perfect. Thelmitra ixioides
Thelmitra nuda and
Thelmitra pauciflora.

Thelmitra ixioides

Thelmitra pauciflora

Thelmitra nuda

All the pink, yellow and blue needs to be leavened with white, and Hakea sericea did that job just fine. The plants are covered in flowers and soon will be covered in the equally attractive large seed pods.

Whilst Hakea sericea has very tiny white flowers there are others in the family with flowers as big as your fist. To see truly beautiful specimens you have to leave the highway and take yourself off on a coastal walk. If you are lucky you will see Hakea bakeriana which has beautiful large pink flowers and equally gigantic seed pods .

Sydney wild flowers – worth a walk.