Spring is here and our bush is being transformed into a sea of colour. The stalwart winter flowers have now been joined by the early spring flowers with their colours and wonderful aromas.
When walking along the clifftop pathway at Aireys Inlet I am almost overcome by the sweet smell from the small yellow flowers on the Bower Spinach, Tetragonia implexicoma, especially at Lands End. The long, flexible branches with fleshy leaves drape attractively over the vegetation.
In the heathlands yellow is the dominant colour. In the upper storey below the green of the gums, it is provided by an increasing range of wattles in flower. Below these are the abundant bright gold of guinea-flowers. At Teds Track it is mostly the Silky, Hibbertia servica var. sericea, which is the guinea-flower with the largest flowers.
Interspersed are bright splashes of orange from low bushes of Parrot-peas, the Grey, Dillwynia cinarascens, and the Showy, D.sericea sub.1. They have short rolled leaves, and wing-like back petals which help to distinguish them from the many other more closed pea flowers.
In our district there are 16 pea flower, or egg and bacon, groups – such a challenge to identify! At night time my sleep-time routine is often helped by reciting the list in alphabetical order – it beats counting sheep! At Teds track there is also the salmon hue of the glorious pea flowers of Leafless Bitter-pea, Daviesia brevifolia, a short flowering beauty. The flowers really stand out on the usually bare, stark, sculptural branches.
Next is white, often from the massed tiny, fluffy-edged flowers of the Common Beard-heath, which I wrote about last month. These have now been joined by the papery daisy flowers with yellow centres of Blunt Everlasting, Argentipallium obtusifolium. The leaves are not a feature, being narrow and sparse.
Also in the spring intake are erect spikes of the creamy-white, evocatively named, Creamy Candles, Stackhousia monogyna.
A less obvious white is provided by the single flowers on a children’s favourite, the parasitic sundews. Fraser Avenue has masses of the Tall Sundew, Drosera auriculata, with slightly shield-shaped leaves, and the Climbing Sundew, D.macrantha subsp.macrantha, with rounder and redder leaves. Get out your magnifier and check out the tiny insects caught on the sticky leaf hairs. Charles Darwin was inspired to do just that!
Patches of pink have arrived with Pink Bells, Tetratheca ciliata, erect herbs with delightful dangling bell-shaped flowers. This is a most frustrating plant to photograph, as an appealing feature is the black anthers in the centre of the flower which give rise to another common name Black-eyed Susan. Then at ground level there is the fire-engine red of Running Postman, Kennedia prostrata, with the eye-catching pea plants on long trailing wiry stems.
Finally there is the best colour of all…blue. Last month I wrote about hovea, but this now has an even more appealing rival in Love Creeper, Comospermum volubile, – what a name! This usually invisible creeper is worth a close look as it spirals up and around low plants, displaying its tiny blue pea flowers.
There is so much to see, and this is just the beginning. When out and about be sure to carry your Flowers of Anglesea and Aireys Inlet while you enjoy the sights and smells of spring.