Monday, 29 October 2007

Bushland flowers

A couple of weeks ago we went on a leisurely hike with a local bushwalking group. The track we followed was through fairly dense vegetation, much of it in flower in this mid-spring season, offering an opportunity to learn more about Australian native plants. The yellow-flowering shrubs are Dillwynia floribunda, common name Egg-and-Bacon Pea. The pink flowers are Boronia, a member of the rue family.

Only in Australia

Australians universally refer to their native eucalyptus trees as gum trees, so I guess they don't see the name of this motel as a potential drawback. My dentist is going to love this one.

Friday, 26 October 2007

More on waratahs

Further to my comments on waratahs, I should mention that our town, Katoomba, has garbage bins along the main street that feature this very attractive stylized waratah design.

Friday, 19 October 2007

Spring Gardens

Leura, the town immediately east of our town, Katoomba, is a quieter, more upmarket area of fine old homes surrounded by gracious gardens, many of which are owned by wealthy retirees or long-established families. Each October, there is a one-week open gardens festival, which raises money for charity. This year a ticket costing a mere $18 gave you access to nine private gardens, so naturally I went along.

Most of the gardens featured banks of flowering azaleas and rhododendrons under stately English oaks and beeches.

The one featuring mosaic columns and many shallow bowls of succulents reminded me of Seattle gardens I have seen, particularly the Little and Lewis garden. A lemon and an orange tree growing in big blue pots were more reminiscent of Tuscany. Growing your own citrus is a possibility here; my sister has been supplying me with lovely organic lemons from her garden for the past month.

The smallest garden on the tour had some of the best features, including the water feature with the floating silver balls. It also had the best view, especially when seen through the foliage of a native tree fern.

The photo of the beautiful bank of erythroniums and hellebores gracing one of the grand estates is for my friend Lambert. They are all the common E. x versicolor 'Suphureum', but it was the mass of them, extending perhaps 30 metres along the base of a drystone wall, that was so impressive.

Wednesday, 10 October 2007


Late September through October is bloom time for the waratah (Telopea speciosissima), floral emblem of New South Wales. Many of these shrubs grow wild in the Blue Mountains, and it's a popular shrub with gardeners who favour native plants. There are a number of cultivars on the market, including pink and cream-coloured ones, but the traditional colour is red. At Mount Tomah Botanic Garden I photographed this impressive specimen of a cultivar called 'Shady Lady'. From a distance, it bears a distinct resemblance to the rhododendrons that I was admiring a month earlier. (see my blog of Sept 10)