As nature approaches midwinter it has been wonderful to have follow-up rains, so that the plants can catch up in growth leading to the start of spring.
During my wanders in the bushland, I have been impressed how quietly new plants, tubers and bulbs are making haste to their ultimate goal of producing flowers, and subsequently seeds, in order to continue their life cycles.
Keep an eye out for:
Acacia verniciflua—Varnish Wattle. It is a slightly weeping open tree of about 3-5 m. It has light, shiny green phyllodes (modified stem) of 15 cm. The young leaves are slightly sticky due to secreted resin from a gland near the base of the leaf. The flowers are profuse pale to bright yellow balls, flowering from July to January. It tolerates both wet and dry conditions, is quick growing and is an ideal screening plant. Seeds and pods provided food to the Aborigines.
Acacia myrtifolia—Myrtle Wattle. Common in the Anglesea and Aireys Inlet district, forming an understorey shrub in woodland and forest areas, Myrtle Wattle is a fast growing, bushy but erect shrub to 3 m. The new growth displays an attractive bronze foliage with profuse cream to golden yellow balls arranged alternately along the flower stem, from July to October. An attractive ornamental shrub, it provides a low screen and benefits from a heavy prune after flowering. Birds make use of it in my garden, both as a source of food from the pods, and for nests in its foliage.
Correas. These plants are small widespread shrubs that occur throughout the bushland of the Surf Coast Shire. They are found in variable habitats, need good drainage, but can tolerate both damp and dry conditions. Birds and insects are fond of these plants.
Correa alba var. alba—White Correa. A dense, spreading shrub found growing on dunes, sandstone cliffs and in coastal bushland, it has green-grey oval to round leaves. White waxy star-like flowers are found at the end of branches, as well as in leaf axils. The flowers have noticeable reddish-brown stamens, that standout against the white petals. This correa can be easily shaped or hedged as a screen and is a very useful filler for your garden.
Correa reflexa—Common Correa. This is a 1.5 m shrub, widespread in the area. The flowers are narrow, tubular and usually in shades of dark pink to red, with green tips. This is one of the most attractive wildflowers in the district. There is also a green flowered variety. These plants benefit from tip pruning or a light prune after flowering, which allows the plant to bush-up and make more of an impact in your garden. All three of these correas can be seen flowering in the ANGAIR office garden as I write.
Common Correa (red flowers)
Common Correa (green flowers)
Finally, you may see members of the sundew family, insectivorous plants that range in size, leaf-shape and habitat throughout the district. All the leaves have glands with glistening secretions that trap and digest insects. They have regular flowers varying from white, pink, orange and red. After pollination a capsule develops, which is filled with many small seeds.
At the moment, appearing in large numbers, are the Scented Sundew, Drosera aberrans. Rosetted colonies are made up of 1.4 cm tall plants. They flower from June–October. The flowers are pink or white in short bunches of 1-6 flowers, which open singularly in succession.
Drosera macrantha subsp. macrantha—Climbing Sundew. Found in sandy heathlands and open woodlands, this scrambling/climbing herb can grow to 1 m. It needs the support of the plants where it grows, to keep it in a semi-upright position. Some of the glands also help it hook onto supports. It produces a flower head and ultimately a capsule of minute seeds.
Flowers of Anglesea and Aireys Inlet
Flora of the Otway Plain and Ranges 2.
Flora of Melbourne 3rd ed.
Photographs: Kindly supplied by Margaret MacDonald