I always love August, watching and waiting to see what will appear with the coming of spring and warmer weather.
In the middle of July’s freezing winter weather, I was amazed to see some Dillwynia cinerascens Grey Parrot-pea in flower.
I anticipate that Dillwynia sericea Showy Parrot-pea will also appear before the end of this month. These two pea plants are very difficult to distinguish, even for the experts, but are always delightful to see, with their small orange and yellow ‘egg and bacon’ flowers.
Hibbertia sericea Silky Guinea-flower was also appearing last month, with its five, evenly spaced, bright-yellow petals.
In my garden, I have been delighted to see large clusters of yellow fluffy balls appear on my favourite wattle, Acacia pycnantha Golden Wattle. It should soon be brightening up areas all over the district.
I have noticed two other wattles, which are starting to show off their flowers, the widespread Acacia myrtifolia Myrtle Wattle, and Acacia genistifolia Spreading Wattle.
The latter can be found in the Aireys inlet/Moggs Creek area, and has long prickly phyllodes.
An August delight is Allocasuarina misera Small Sheoak. If I have trouble remembering the name, I always think of ‘miserable’, as its low-growing habit is so different from our other tall Allocasuarina. Currently the male plants are covered in bright, almost orange, spikes, and the females have small, deep-red flowers interspersed along the branchlets.
Small Sheoak male
Small Sheoak female
I have only just read that this plant, which I have always thought was dioecious (meaning with male and female flowers on different plants), can sometimes be monoecious (male and female flowers on the same plant). So now I am on the hunt for such a plant. I would love to know if you find any monoecious plants, but watch out, perhaps the nuts are galls!
Magnifiers are definitely worth carrying for the next few months, as, for example, the fluffy white petals on the Beard-heaths are well worth a close inspection. Leucopogon parviflorus Coast Beard-heath grows along the coastal area, and Common Beard-heath Leucopogon virgatus in the heathlands.
Keep an eye out for flowers on the Drosera species Sundews, as they are truly wonderful and unique plants, with their carnivorous diet obtained by the use of a sticky fluid on their leaves.
Scented Sundew leaves
Darwin was fascinated by them, as this quote from his correspondence shows: "But I will and must finish my Drosera M.S. which will take me a week, for at this present moment I care more about Drosera than the origin of all the species in the world. But I will not publish on Drosera till next year, for I am frightened and astounded at my results …”. However, putting the quote in context, it was a temporary state of mind as Darwin was trying to finish a paper on insect-eating plants. (See talkingplants.blogspot.com.)
Climbing Sundew flower
A harbinger of spring is the attractive white flowers on the small lily, and aptly named, Early Nancy or Wurmbea dioica.
Again, look closely, as this species, also, is dioecious, and, if you refer to Flowers of Anglesea and Aireys Inlet, you will see the difference.
I will be on the lookout for a rare relative W. latifolia, as I only know of one spot where it grows on the cliff top at Aireys Inlet, and I missed them last year. The fun is just starting!
Freesia refracta and Freesia alba X F. leichtlinii are declared weeds in the Surf Coast Shire because they spread easily and threaten to invade bushland. Freesias are perennial herbs that die back in summer and produce new foliage in winter. The highly fragrant trumpet-shaped flowers appearing in spring are white to cream and pink with yellow markings, shaded purple on outer surface. Each plant has at least two corms, one below the other, thus requiring deep digging to remove them.
More details about how to control this weed can be found in the archive of Weeds of the Month.
There are a number of wonderful local Friends Groups that provide ANGAIR members and the community with opportunities for involvement.