Hunting wildflowers in WA

Think Western Australia wildflowers, think an endless field of red and green kangaroo paw as far as the eye can see, right? Or else something like this:

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Photo: Angus Stewart

While fields of endless flowers can be found, (the pictures prove it!) the sight can’t be guaranteed, says Angus Stewart. Angus is a trove of information about native plants –  where and when they can be found in the wild, which ones can be grown in the garden (and how) and where the best commercial varieties can be bought by gardeners eager to get wildflowers into their own gardens.  We asked his advice on hunting down the best of the west’s wildflowers.

He has three top tips:

 1. Head for the park

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Photo: Angus Stewart

Kings Park in Perth is one of the world’s great botanical gardens. The must-see spring wildflower festival is in September. The park offers all kinds of ways to get close to WA’s prettiest natural treasures. There are themed gardens that display the flora of each geographical region of WA; gardens of rare and endangered species; and spectacular display beds designed to show off a riot of cottage garden-style wildflower action. There are also many hectares of indigenous flora left intact to show plants like red and green kangaroo paws, spider orchids and grass trees in their natural habitat.

 2. Go to the source

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Photo: Angus Stewart

Angus says that many small towns near botanical hotspots hold their own wildflower shows. These are usually held in the local library or CWA buidling.  Track them down by googling likely towns. Once you get to the festival, you’ll find the local wildflower enthusiasts manning the show are happy to talk about their favourite local haunts.

 3. Hunt the trophies

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Photo: Angus Stewart

This amazing plant is the wreath lechenaultia (Lechenaultia macrantha). Angus found a patch of it near Mullewa, a few hours from Perth, in an area that had been subjected to bushfire a couple of years earlier. Bushfires unleash the full potential of the WA bush as the ash fertilises the plants and the removal of the tree canopy lets in sunlight which encourages spectacular flower displays at ground level. So as well as the wreath lechenaultia here, there were breathtaking displays of the bright pink native foxglove (Pityrodia terminalis) and blue dampiera (Dampiera wellsiana).

Hunting iconic plants like the wreath lechenaultia is a good way to also see some of the lesser-knowns. A-list notables include the black kangaroo paw of the Kwongan country north of Perth; the multi-coloured royal hakea on the south coast near Ravensthorpe; and the rose of the west (also known by its Aboriginal name of mottlecah) which has the largest flower of all the eucalypts at about 150mm across. If you can find these rather spectacular and conspicuous species you will have seen a wealth of other species along the way that are worth the journey in their own right.

4. Our suggestion: go with Angus!

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You can follow Angus’ tips to find Western Australia’s great floral treats this spring, but we think it’s easier to just let Angus take you!  Click here for the itinerary for this spring’s trip to WA’s wildflower wonderland.

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