Saturday, September 24, 2016

Variation and Succession – A gallop around Lesmurdie Falls

Lower Level Lesmurdie Falls

Lesmurdie Falls are quite high and lie on the edge of the Darling Scarp.This huge scar on the landscape runs for over a thousand kilometres and can be seen from space. The fault upon which it lies marks the point where Australia broke off from India some 135 million years ago. It also contains some of the world's oldest rocks - magma intrusions thrust up from the centre of the earth around 260 billion years ago. Though now around 30 km inland from the sea and the city of Perth, its edges were sea cliffs  a mere 200,000 years ago when sea levels were higher.

Part of the Upper Level
I had visited these falls once before at the height of summer and after a long period of drought  and they had been rather disappointing. Now, after what has been one of the wettest winters on record, they were not only flowing magnificently, but the surrounding bushland was green and alive with the harrumphing of frogs, the squawking of birds and the chirrup of humans or maybe the other way around.  The wild flowers were abundant too, buzzing with bees and insects especially among the white flowering shrubs near the base of the falls with their all pervading smell of honey.  

These frothy white flowering shrubs, abundant at the lower levels, smell like honey

Looking down from the top of the Scarp on the City of Perth (Top right) and the sea. The shoreline once reached to the edge of these cliffs

The wildflowers were perhaps not as rich or diverse as on some of my other short walks but they did display considerable variation. The mouse ears for instance, which I had admired earlier come in shades of orangy red here, rather than pink and are slightly smaller.

"Mouse Ears" come in reds here
In fact everything in WA seems to come in a great variety of colours and forms - from upright shrubs, to prostrate ones and vines. Though blue flowers are still my favourite, here they are represented more by a nightshade species and by a straggly grass -like shrub with many tiny bell flowers. The blue lady shown previously often tends to purple in some areas and the big blue pea flowers which I have previously only seen as a vine, can also be found  densely packed on a medium shrub or as a sparsely flowered upright plant in its own right. Much of this can be blamed on the on the substrate. At Lesmurdie this is really obvious, because quite different species grow on the darker, older granitic rocks than on the reddish remains of dolorite.

Pink Boronia  at the "Superblock Conservation Area"

Blue Pea Flowers as a shrub (not at Lesmurdie where I had very little time to take photos)

A prostrate Wattle at the "Superblock"
 New species continually replace the previous ones and it has been fascinating to watch the changing procession of plants as spring marches on. The kangaroo paws now display neat rows of teeth, some of the brown and yellow pea flowers have turned to seed and new species have taken their place.  In previous weeks, I have often wondered what the red lobed ground – hugging plants were, but at Lesmurdie they have unfurled into their full glory – often over a metre long with tiny sticky pads and an innocent white flower at the top. Now I can see that they are sundews - a very dainty carnivorous plant. I had also wondered about small round spiky things I’d seen which looked rather like sea urchins. These turn into trigger plants of which Western Australia also has an enormous variety. They are also carnivorous. Thank goodness they are only small! See the  G'day from WA pages under Trigger Plants to see how this mechanism works.

Sundews a week ago

Fullgrown sundew at Lesmurdie Falls

Tiny Rosettes of Trigger Plants

This is what they turn into - one of many varieties of trigger plants

New Species continually replace the previous ones

Saw some wonderful flowers along the Zig Zag Track today - another part of the Scarp, but these will have to wait until the next time I'm let off the leash. 

Sunday, September 04, 2016

Blue skies, blue flowers and random thoughts

The true blue Lechenaultia

We are getting some lovely weather at last and carpets of flowers are starting to appear. I especially like those unbelievably blue ones, be they in gardens or in nature. I turned our snails loose this morning, thinking that they had suffered enough in the name of science, not to mention that I seemed to be the only person who was still feeding them. That’s another good thing about snail pets. There’s no problem releasing them back into the wild. The small ones were now twice as big as when we first got them and possibly getting a bit big for their strawberry box homes.

Blue Lady
The council here has been doing its annual kerbside collection of hard rubbish lately – that’s the stuff that won’t fit into the bin. What a treat it was. A bonanza of lounge suites, old chairs, outgrown bikes, hot water cylinders, broken prams, useful building materials, old tiles. We would have killed as children to have been let loose in a treasure trove like that – wheels for go – karts, construction materials and furniture for forts.  It wasn’t called recycling or repurposing then.
Even my sons would still have relished the bits of electronic equipment and especially the abandoned satellite dish.

Sorry, no idea
Western Australia also does a nice line in pea flowers- the "Fabulous Faboideae" here are some blue ones, but they also come in pinks, orange, scarlet and yellows

One of several types of Flame Pea

Looking over this stuff now I could see great possibilities for the girls’ cubby - little tables, carpet offcuts, old curtains - all nice and clean and without that tip smell. However, I have been banned from suggesting such a thing and am not allowed to encourage the girls in such endeavours. This area is much too respectable for that but the rubbish is of very high quality. I mean, if you are going to go tip -ratting, you should certainly pick an area like this. Perhaps it’s a kind of status symbol if your junk is so highly desirable that it’s all gone by morning, before the collection truck gets there.

In nature's garden

In Tullah, the little old mining town where I spent some years, they had a special section just before the actual tip, where you left the stuff that was still reasonable and maybe of use to someone else. It had a sign on it “Tullah K-Mart“ (that’s the Australian version of Walmart for those of you in the States) and was where you might find bulky items like beds, old but working toaster ovens, parts of trampolines, children’s bikes and outgrown toys since being rather remote, it was usually too costly to take everything with you when you left. Where I live now there are lots of impoverished students, elderly folk and unemployed people, so I often leave out books and magazines, rosemary cuttings and the like, and they are always gone by morning. Since people are always moving there too, I once scored an excellent coat rack that way.

There is a good system for books. Outside the Community Centre where my sister lives, there’s a little glass case where you take what you want and leave what you’ve read. It turns out that it’s part of the Little Free Library movement of which there are now 40,000 worldwide. Begun by one Todd Bol in Wisconsin in 2009, when he built a model of a one-room schoolhouse outside his house and filled it with books, the idea has now caught on in over 70 countries.

It is a worry that they are occasionally stolen, but  read what happened to one community after the little library one lady had built as a memorial to her husband was taken. I particularly liked the idea of themed libraries such as the archaeological one outside the Kentucky Heritage Council offices, or the one centred on food and sustainability outside a food emporium. If I had somewhere to put it, I would definitely start one. Click here if you fancy starting one yourself.