Walking around Aireys Inlet and Distillery Creek I have noticed areas where the ground is carpeted in the delightful yellow and pale pink Snugglepot and Cuddlepie flowers of the Red Ironbark, Eucalyptus tricarpa.
In the township, however, it is often the northern species of Red Ironbark, E. sideroxylon, with bright pink flowers which has been planted, for example outside Eagles Nest Fine Art Gallery.
Northern Red Ironbark
What a beautiful welcome for visitors checking out our local art! Large numbers of raucous honeyeaters are also obvious in the trees as they chase each other away from this wonderful food source. The flowers of E. tricarpa are usually in threes, and the gorgeous, thick, corrugated bark is a permanent feature, which remains black forever once burnt.
In my walks in the winter cold I am being cheered up by the bright colours of our Common Heath, Epacris impressa. We are so fortunate in out district to have a range of colours from white, to pale and very dark pink.
Pink Common Heath
White Common Heath
Red Common Heath
These are contrasting well with the pale creamy flowers of Sweet Wattle, Acacia suaveolens. This is always the first of our wattles to flower and is aptly named, as it adds a delightful fragrance to our heathlands and woodlands. Sweet Wattle flowers for several months until all the other wattles appear at the end of winter. The plant is open in appearance due to the wide spacing of the stiff, flattened, bluish-green phyllodes.
On the nature walk near the coalmine we saw Prickly Cryptandra, C. tomentosa, coming into flower and picked some for the plant study group. What superb little flowers they are and even under magnifiers we could see the details. The ‘petals’ are actually the sepals, as in the centre of the flower there are five tiny white hoods which are the petals. These hide the male stamens (hidden men… as kriptos means ‘hidden’ and andros means ‘man’) . And there was more: at the base of the female stigma a delightful five-sided hairy nectary. How wonderful is nature!
Flowers do tend to be in short supply at this time of year but on a recent bushwalk I noticed yellow flowers on a Bundled Guinea-flower, Hibbertia fasciculata var. prostrata.
However one ‘stayer’ with a similar flower, Hop Goodenia, G. ovata, may be found in flower, and is a common plant of our heathlands and heathy woodlands, and also brightens up my garden.
This is the only Goodenia in our area to grow into a sizeable bush, and I am always interested in the distinctive uneven spacing of the five petals into two above and three below, which distinguishes it from the Guinea-flowers with their evenly spaced petals.
Enjoy the winter colours, keep an eye out, and remember to take your Flowers of Anglesea and Aireys Inlet just in case.