There is so much to see this month that you will really need your plant book. I will highlight the iris, some lilies, and a few daisies.
The handsome Patersonia fragilis Short Purple-flag is one of the two species of Iris in our district. The flowers have three large, rich, mauve/purple petals, and are almost hidden in amongst the clumps of long, flat leaves. They will soon be followed by the Patersonia occidentalis Long Purple Flag. This has flowers that are much easier to see, as they grow above the foliage. Many flowers are produced from just one stem, and individual flowers open for less than one day.
The plant experts have been reclassifying again, making life hard for amateurs. As Marilyn Bull states in Flora of Melbourne ,‘The lilies had previously been classified in the family Liliaceae in Victoria – however all Australian sections of lilies have been reassigned,’ (don’t you love that word!) ‘to several different families’. However they can still be recognised by their obvious characteristic of three alternating petals and three sepals, which all look very similar.
The beautiful Thysanotus Fringe Lilies have started flowering, firstly with the small, light-purple flowers of the Thysanotus patersonii Climbing Fringe Lily. I am always thrilled to see this plant twining so attractively round and up other plants with its delicately fringed flowers, which open in the sun, and also only last one day.
Climbing Fringe Lily
Less showy are the Dianellas Flax Lilies, with their delicate flowers hanging down in, or just above, the foliage. The fine flowers form a delightful contrast to the robust, strap-like leaves with a prominent midrib. There are four species of Dianellas, which can be identified mainly by different growth habits.
The Wurmbea Early Nancy, which I talked about last month, is sometimes confused with another lily, Burchardia umbellata Milkmaids, which flowers this month. The Milkmaids look similar, but are bigger and taller, with a cluster of white flowers, each with a central reddish ovary. Does anyone know why they are called Milkmaids?
Look out for the uncommon Bulbine bulbosa , a showy lily with bright yellow flowers gradually opening up the stem. A sure place to find them on display is the Allen Noble Sanctuary, where the Shire has planted a number of them.
In moist forests the tall bushes of Olearia phlogopappa subsp continentalis Dusty Daisy-bush, and Olearia lirata Snowy Daisy-bush are developing profuse clusters of attractive flower-heads which, when in flower, gleam like lights against the green background. I find it a challenge to differentiate between the two species. Now is the time to look for the bright yellow centre on the Dusty, as it eventually fades and looks similar to the Snowy, which has a creamier centre.
The large, single yellow flowers of Button Everlasting are popping up everywhere. This plant has undergone a name change from Helichrysum scorpioides to Coronidium scorpioides. Their gorgeous, compacted flower-heads are worth a close look with a magnifier.
I think the star of this month is the showy, bright yellow flowers of Podolepis jaceoides Showy Podolepis, which are about to burst into bloom. Thanks to Philippa’s care, we can all see this uncommon plant in the Angair garden.
I have been surprised to see its buds initially drooping modestly, like the Microceris sp. 3 Yam Daisy, as shown in Flowers of Anglesea and Aireys Inlet.
Showy Podolepsis bud