There is a veritable zoo out here in the Aussie bush, and I am not talking about the animal kind! In a landscape of immense diversity, Australia’s collection of weird and wonderful flowers is one of our greatest treasures – an untamed garden of Eden.
Walking anywhere in the bush during Spring or Summer, you will encounter Spider Orchids, Kangaroo Paws, Cowslips, Bird’s Nest Banksias, Lamb’s Tails, Dingo Ferns, Goanna Claws, Emu Grass and many other varieties of strange wildflowers.
The colours are just incredible, as are the names of some of these flowers and plants!
Walking through the bush at the back of Mt Cootha this late Spring morning, it seems as if Mother Nature has gone mad with colour; wielding her paintbrush at liberty through the brown and green foliage.
Masses of glinting golden flowers hang off the bleached white branches of the ancient Gums and the sparkling orange and yellow hues of the Banksia flowers and Wattle trees remind me of the desert palette, so much an integral part of this land.
Delicate Lilly-Pillys shimmer in the morning light, while bright red and green Kangaroo Paw plants, with their remarkable claw-like flowers, look just like they have been cut into shapes from felt with craft shears.
Acid yellow Candlestick Banksias light up the bush like early Christmas trees, exotic fan-shaped Calendula flowers provide delicate purple decorations, and the heart of the Bush beats proudly in the blood red Warratahs.
The Grevilleas, better known as Spider flowers, are amazing in their intricate design and combination of colours, ranging from purples, magentas and pinks right through to vivid reds, tangerines and honey golds.
Magnificent Cascade Lilly-Pilly bushes covered in fuzzy hot pink flowers and literally buzzing with visiting bees pull my eyes away from the squawking group of Lorikeets feeding on a tree laden with bright red Grevilleas.
There is a huge variety of wildlife species - birds, amphibians, insects and reptiles - that have developed a close interdependence on the native flora and are found in abundance in the bush.
One of the greatest attributes of Australian native plants is their ability to survive and flourish in the notoriously harsh and erratic climate of this sunburnt country. The geological stability and isolation of Australia contributes enormously to one of the most unique and diverse floras on this planet.
The Aboriginal communities have long known the wonders of the extraordinary adaptive native plants, traditionally using a large variety of species for food, medicine and shelter.
Only now, after more than 200 years of battling the elements, Australians are finally beginning to question the way in which we manage the precious diversity that has survived for so long and measures are at last being put into place to protect it.
Our own backyard is a great place to start!
By planting native Australian trees and bush flowers in our gardens and thus also enticing the accompanying wildlife, we can all make a significant contribution to protecting our unique natural heritage.
“Lightly the breath of the Spring wind blows,
Though laden with faint perfume,
‘Tis the fragrance rare that the bushman knows,
The scent of the wattle bloom.”
~ Adam Lindsay Gordon