Sunday, 17 July 2011

On the right side of winter

The evenings are starting to get a little lighter again and now I feel we are on the right side of winter, spring is on its way.  There are some little signs in the garden, like the frisky male superb fairy wrens Malurus cyaneus darting everywhere and the thousands of star-like buds on the wattle (Acacia spp.) trees, just waiting to burst into bloom (and to give me hayfever!).

There are plenty of winter flowers out in the garden too, including many Banksia and this lovely flower, it is some sort of Grevillea (I couldn't find a label - it was just outside the main entrance to the gardens).

Thursday, 14 July 2011

Strange fruit

I came across a couple of weird and wonderful fruits in the garden today, both of which would have been eaten by aboriginal people.   The first was the Burrawang (also the name of a village near Robertson in the Southern Highlands of NSW), Macrozamia spp.  An amazing thing about the Burrawang, which is native to the NSW East Coast, is that it is poisonous!  It is incredible how, over thousands of years, aboriginal people worked out how they could eat such plants.  According to the sign by the plant in the gardens, the Burrawang can be eaten after cooking the seed, breaking it up and then soaking it for up to three weeks in running water!! 

Near the Burrawang was another fruit, that looks a little like jelly babies, growing on the Brown Pine tree Podocarpus elatus, or Illawara Plum.  Nothing like a pine tree that I'm familiar with, originating in the rainforest.  According to the sign in the garden it is 'sweet but mucilaginous'.  As I didn't know what mucilaginous meant I decided not to try one! 

Sunday, 3 July 2011

A devil in the mountains

On my first ever post on this blog I came across the beautiful 'Mountain Devil' Lambertia Formosa in the gardens, so I was really excited to find a 'real-life' wild mountain devil in the Blue Mountains near Sydney when we visited recently!  I really felt I'd learnt so much from my lunchtime wanderings to instantly recognize this fantastic flower.   

We love the Blue Mountains and have visited several times, there is something magical about the landscape and the timeless villages there, with always a warm welcome at one of the splendid B&Bs.  Autumn is really a wonderful time to be there.  We walked the National Pass at Wentworth 'one of Australia's finest bushwalks', which is quite a long walk and a little steep in places, the website here has a lovely video on to give you an impression of its beauty.  We crossed some waterfalls in full flow and passed many lookouts with wonderful views.  All the time it was so peaceful, just the sound of a lyrebird calling from down in the valley and of course, plenty of Rosellas and Cockatoos.  Here are some more pictures of the flora and landscape I took on this trip - I know its a little diversion from the Botanic Gardens but to see the flowers of the gardens in the landscape of the mountains is truly wonderful, the Banksia were flowering as you can see below (see also my post on the nearby Mount Tomah Botanic garden for more mountains flora!).  I'd love to know what the really pretty pink/purple flower is?  Also the pink bell-like flowers too.  Many plants are rare that are found in the Blue Mountains (some more info here), with many unique species found nowhere else in the world.