Now that January is well under way, it is time to think ahead to Australia Day, our next big celebration. For Australia Day this year we are told to “celebrate what’s great”: an invitation, hell, a suggestion to focus not on our differences and our troubles, but instead on what unites us; what we LOVE about this country.
To paraphrase our national anthem, Australia is a land which abounds in natures gifts, of beauty which is rich and rare. In this weeks blog we look at some of our phenomenal native flowers.
Our environment is enviable; a gorgeous faraway island with a subtropical climate, plenty of land for a growing population and unique landscapes to suit all walks of life. Sea change? Tree change? Country Life? City Life? Surf? Yep, we have it all. And because we have all these varying climates Australia is suitable to grow a variety of plants throughout the year.
The red flowering gum is one of the most commonly planted ornamental trees in the Eucalyptus family. It is available throughout the warmer summer months, and is often utilised as an alternative to Christmas bush over the festive season because of its vibrant red and green tones. It is native to WA and prefers sandy infertile soil however can tolerate moderate environments provided they are not damp or exposed to periods of frost. The flowering gum is available in a variety of other colour tones including: pink, orange, crimson and white.
Flowering gum has a fairly short vase life (3-6 days) as the blossoms open quickly in the warm weather and then drop. It can make them a messy addition to your home, but they are an extraordinary explosion of colour and well worth the effort and extra cleaning 😉 The stems must be re-cut so that you ensure they can take up water, otherwise you will find the buds wither/shrivel rather than maturing and opening.
There is approx 170 species of banksia, but they are easily recognised usually by their spiky inflorescence (flower). Some varieties, like the dryandra are characterised by a short rounded head so there are variations. All but one species is endemic to Australia. The exception, the Tropical banksia, can be found in northern Australia as well as on some of the tropical islands to the north including New Guinea and the Aru islands Banksias grow as trees or woody shrubs and are popular in gardens because of their showy blooms.
Banksias have an amazing vase life. You can easily get a week out of them and certainly longer depending on the variety. Stems should be re-cut so they can take up water. With so many varieties of Banksias available, it is possible to get Banksias (in some form) throughout the whole year. Banksias are a terrific dried flower: although it is important to note that drying flowers tends to make the colours of the blooms less vivid and intense.
There are five species of Waratah that are endemic to Australia. The key distinguishing feature of the Waratah is the inflorescence, which is very large, brightly coloured and showy, and consists of many small flowers densely packed into a compact head. The bloom ranges from 6–15 cm in diameter. The name waratah comes from the Eora Aboriginal people, the original inhabitants of the Sydney area. The Waratahs are naturally confined to east coast regions from northern New South Wales to Tasmania. Generally Waratahs are available throughout late September- early November.
Waratahs are most commonly known and recognised in the red variety however you can also find pink and white blooms available. Expected vase life for Waratahs is 5-7 days.
There are about 360 different species of the Grevillea genus, a native plant to rainforest environments and more open habitats in Australia but they can also be found in New Guinea, New Caledonia, Indonesia and Sulawesi. It is an attractive evergreen, flowering plant that grows anywhere between a shrub (approx 50cm tall) to 35m tall trees. The flower is petal- less, but instead consists of a calyx tube which splits into 4 lobes with long styles. Grevillea are brightly coloured, and are quite delicate in appearance in comparison to other native flowers.
Grevillea has a great vase life when the cut flower has been chemically treated. If not, Grevillea is expected to last 3-6 days and will drop the long styles as the bloom deteriorates.
Well that’s a look at some of nature’s finest Australian natives. Did we cover all your favourites? If not, leave us a comment and we will make sure to update the post with some of your requests. Why not choose some Australian native flowers this Australia Day for your home or for a gift. What a perfect way to celebrate what is great….. :0)
Til next time,