As the end of spring approaches, the bushland takes on a more sombre hue. Pale browns and dark browns of leathery pods, capsules and cones appear.
These structures that have slowly developed have very important tasks for the future—the protection of the seeds which will produce the next season’s colourful spring displays, and so the cycle continues. There are still some very lovely blue, mauve and violet flowers for November.
Short Purple-flag, Patersonia fragilis
Found in teatree heath, open forest and heathland, Short Purple Flag is a tufted, widespread, evergreen perennial herb, growing from a thick underground stem. It has bright, deep purple iris flowers on short stems hidden at the base of the leaves. The flowers have six petals: three large, rounded and spreading outer petals and three tiny, erect inner ones. The flowers are short-lived but are numerous on sunny days from September to January. It can be propagated from seeds and by division. An attractive plant for the rockery, the narrow dull-green to blue-green leaves give a textural aspect to the home garden.
Blue Pincushion, Brunonia australis
Found in dry to moist woodland and heathland, Blue Pincushion is a perennial rosetted herb of 30 cm tall, with light green hairy leaves and a bright blue terminal head of many small flowers and yellow styles forming the ‘pins’. It flowers from October to January and can make an excellent container plant but is often short lived in cultivated environments. It is best treated as an annual, collecting the seed and replanting it in informal drifts and it can also be divided in July or August. It is a family of one genus, with one species endemic to Australia.
Blue-spike Milkwort, Comesperma calygema
This small erect shrub is found in the heathland and has thickish leaves arranged alternately along the stem. The deep blue pea-like flowers appear in dense clusters at the end of the stems from October to January. It is widespread and quite common and grows annually from a short, woody underground stem.
Tall Bluebell, Wahlenbergia stricta subsp. stricta
Widespread in plains, grassland to low open forest, Tall Bluebell is an erect or sprawling perennial herb with a tap root flowering from October to January. The leaves may be opposite or alternate with waxy edges. It may have either a single or several stems. The flowers are large, five-petalled and clear-blue with a conspicuous white throat. The Indigenous people picked and ate the flowers.
Twining Fringe Lily, Thysanotus patersonii
A small, light perennial climber, twining weakly on other plants for support, it is found in teatree heath, open forest and heathland. It has one or two annual short, fine leaves which wither when the leafless, flowering stem develops. Numerous mauve or violet flowers consisting of three distinctly fringed petals and three narrower sepals with smooth margins are borne singly at the end of short branches on the flowering stem from August to November. It is a delightful and delicate climber not noticeable until in flower, emerging from a dormant tuber in winter. After flowering it forms a triple-valved capsule with black seeds.
Twining Fringe Lily
Philippa Hesterman, photos Margaret Macdonald
There are a number of wonderful local Friends Groups that provide ANGAIR members and the community with opportunities for involvement.