Wednesday, November 02, 2016

Wildflowers of the Week – more floral wonders of the West




The true Blue Lady - over a metre tall and sometimes seen in other colours
The time for photographing wildflowers has almost passed. Not only have they begun to diminish, but we are now getting those typical Western Australian days, hot, dry and sunny - too much contrast, too much UV, which results in pictures so overexposed that you can barely make out the detail, not even when you adjust the exposure. That ominous rustle and crackle in the undergrowth is also starting to make me wary of heading into the bush alone, but there are still a few pleasant surprises.

Blue Lady tending to blue grey/ purple

My first Flower of the Week is the true Blue Lady of the hills, not that one I showed you earlier which was smaller - about half a metre tall and only had two or three flowers per spike. The real ones are much taller – around a metre or so and their densely clustered flower spikes come in several shades  from bluish grey, through several blues, to pinkish purple.

The second is the  fringed Lily which first appeared a couple of weeks ago. It ranges from bluish purple to a pinkish purple and comes in a thick leaved variety with a cluster of heads looking rather like a Sweet William and also a more delicate one with only two to three florets offset on a single slender stem.
And almost pink

The larger Fringed Lily
At around the time that these were in bloom I also saw a clump of red rattlebeak orchids, now long gone, and as I was admiring them a lady from a nearby house invited me into her native garden to see the green ones. She has twenty three different orchids that come up naturally every year in her garden. I am looking forward to seeing the others. The now hot and almost ever present wind, has not made for very good shots and you have to wonder how these plants manage to survive in this harsh environment at all.

A clump of Red Rattlebeak Orchids
 
The Green Rattlebeak Orchid seen in a neighbouring yard

This week's Flower of the Week - The Blue Flag
 My latest find is a purple flag, a substantial plant which would do any garden proud. This also comes in a variety of colours and types. 


Here is a large pink one, but I have also seen small ground hugging ones

 The many different trigger plants continue to intrigue me as the season unfolds  - the mauve, the yellows, pinks, the small white cowkicks, and the clumps of tiny, butterfly shaped ones "Circus" perhaps, that range from white to salmon pink to brick red and grow prolifically in several places. 

Tiny White Cow Kicks
Tall pink Trigger Plant - 'Queen' I think - about 1 metre,

I have also seen this one in a rich purple
A sprinkle of 'Circus" Trigger Plants which I have also seen in densely packed mounds and fairy rings

Lilac coloured Trigger Plant about knee high with spiky leaves. It also has a cousin with similar colours but with lobed leaves
Another close relative, the slightly smaller "Pink Fountain" is very prolific too
 The pea flowers are also changing. Bright red ones on a medium size shrub have replaced many of the earlier ones. I have also seen low growing  pink ones, pale lemon ones on trees and shrubs and two varieties of 10 -15 cm tall spiked plants densely covered in tiny lemon or orange flowers. It makes me wonder about the insects which would visit them. It is probably not a coincidence either that there are so many trigger plants nearby. Do trigger plants die if they don't manage to catch anything or do they just make use of insects for pollination? I stay on the paths to avoid treading on them. It is the sides of the paths and roads - the border lands, which are richest in species anyway, because the variation in sunlight allows a broader range to flourish.

The beautiful Lechenaultias, Cottonheads in pink or white and everlasting daisies of various heights and types, continue to make up the backdrop of this everchanging carpet, with a few other plants thrown in here and there such as the pink boronia one week, a wax flower the next, or a little tousleheaded Purple Tassel -about the size, shape and colour of a chive flower, popping in to keep things interesting.
White Cottonheads - these come in pink too

Sadly many plants seem to be very shortlived. Now you see them, now you don't. I spent ages looking for an unusual orchid I had seen, only to find that it was no longer in bloom and there were no others like it, before or since. I was also really sorry that I missed getting a better shot of the mace -like head of this flower (Blue Devil) below or the little blue flowers underneath it, because they were already forming seed heads the next time I came. Apologies for the appalling picture quality. It was windy here then and just as windy when I went back.

Another of my fails. this is a Blue Devil. Had hoped to go back and get a better picture, but it was not to be

Same goes for this one. There were only seed heads when I finally got back to this spot
 Not so these little blue flowers below or my lovely Lechenaultias despite their delicate looks.
Stayers - these delightful blue stars just seem to keep on going

 Lechenaultias continue to delight

Seas of Everlasting Daisies fill bare ground

This Enamel Flower is among the newcomers
Also this Hemegenia, one of two colours I have seen

Dampiera -one of several types and  another plant to add to the collection of blues
These are just a fraction of the ongoing parade. The sheer diversity and utter strangeness of the flora here continues to amaze me. There is always something new. Real botanists would wet themselves with excitement!

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