Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Wizard Oz plants

A visit to the Botanical Gardens in Kings Park, Perth WA. These gardens have been cultivated almost as long as Perth has existed - amazing how cultural priorities shape a community from its very origins.
It is the most extraordinary collection of native plants, over 25,000 of which at least 10,000 cannot be found outside Australia. The gardens are beautifully laid out and maintained with every plant clearly labelled. Collections of plants are grouped according to region of Australia and some special collections of single species such as Banksia (first discovered by the botanist Banks who accompanied Captain Cook on his voyage to Botany Bay). In the Banksia garden there are wrought iron benches designed specially to resemble the leaves of Banksia and the paving has mosaics of Banksia too - I would have liked to take those home.
This is late spring and the weather is glorious - sunny and warm with a breeze. The range and depth of colour of many of the plants in flower really impresses. The 'Kangaroo Paw' Anigozanthos (emblem of the state of Western Australia) is my favourite: it comes in a wide range of interesting colours including rich burgundy, gold, russet and a lime yellow with black centre (this last one is in fact Macropidia fulginosa). I wonder whether I can get it to grow in Italy? In Perth there is almost a perfect Mediterranean climate - hot dry summers and cool wet winters and no frost. Perhaps it will be too cold but might be worth trying in pots if I can get hold of some seeds.
Even the 'Bottle Brush' plants are interesting and varied - the one in the photo has irregular shaped flowers. Last but not least the Jacaranda trees in full bloom - my photo does not do justice to the masses of purple flowers. Well worth the trip Down Under to discover such a wealth of plant life.

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