Flowers can be found throughout the year in local bushland but seems to reach its peak shifting from winter to spring – or from Sprinter to Sprummer (using the seasonal calendar developed by Tim Entwisle).
The time of the year can be measured by the monthly calendar but can also be marked by changes in the environment. The peak in fungi growth was succeeded by the banksia, here, and then with the flowering heath and then the hakea and then the wattles.
At present, the main gullied areas of the Reserve are noticeably cooler – very pleasant when temperatures start to soar – being shaded by tall gums (messmate, peppermints), an overstorey of Scented Paperbark with blackwood, elderberry, tea-tree, olearia, cassinia and various wattles. At this time of the year, the Rough tree-ferns (Cyathea australis) look quite beautiful, with new bright green growth and new croziers on display. A small group of Soft tree-ferns (Dicksonia antartica) can be found in the northern section of the Reserve, where the waterway once flowed – although this is now supported by the overflow from the lake which eventually makes its way down to that area and then under the highway.
The drone of bees
The growth in the ferns succeeds the spring display of the Melaleuca squarrosa, Scented Paperbark. The mass flowering of these plants scents the air during September and October and the drone of bees is at its peak during this time. It’s still possible to hear them even now, as the last of the flowers fade. This display is also accompanied by the Swamp Paperbark, Melaleuca ericifolia, although in much small quantities.
The Woolly tea-tree, Leptospermum lanigerum, has been flowering, now, for the last few weeks and is an amazing snowy white. The leaves of this tea-tree are a silvery green and not prickly. These began to flower during the Scented Paperbark display but will continue for the next few weeks, followed by the Kunzeas (Burgans) and Prickly tea-trees (L.continentale, L.scoparium).
Snow in spring
With some overlap with the beginning of Scented Paperbark and Woolly tea-tree, this year there was an amazing mass flowering of the Olearias in the Reserve. Both Snowy Daisy-bush, Olearia lirata, and Dusty Daisy-bush, Olearia phlogopappa can be found here, distinguished by the colour of the daisy centre and the presence or absence of glands on the leaves. The scent from the flowers has been reminiscent of pineapple sage – and you can still smell this in the early morning or evenings. The leaves smell quite good, too, although, some can be quite acrid, a feature apparently of O.phlogopappa plants – one way to tell them apart when you don’t have a microscope on hand!
The pea family has also been on mass display this year, before the Olearias, with the characteristic egg-and-bacon colouring smudging heathy areas in orange.
The wattles – in particular, the Prickly Moses (Acacia verticillate) – were on display before that, a bright yellow against the deep greens of winter.
Walking in the Reserve can be a time to enjoy nature. Coming into the hotter time of the year, you can already see the asparagus-like purple stalks of the Hyacinth orchids above the soil, the kangaroo and wallaby grasses are flowering and the brunonia is coming into bud. These changes are reassuring, reflecting the resilience of the bush. The sounds of local motor vehicles are reminder, too, of the fragility of this patch of remnant bushland. It is a natural oasis for people but also serves as a last protection for local native species in a largely developed landscape.