Friday, 19 September 2014

A short stroll along our sleepy lane

Spring brings wildflowers and the blossom of self-sown plum trees along our short street in the Dandenong Ranges.
Wonga Vine (Pandorea, above) is flowering prolifically and as I chat to a neighbour I notice she’s picked some for a vase; I wonder how long they’ll last. Picking wildflowers – especially orchids – may be frowned upon in some circles (and illegal in national parks) but sometimes, I think, when there’s abundance, then to enjoy them will more likely ensure the survival of their habitat.

Well, that’s a theory. As I said, the Wonga Vine is prolific, coating some trees entirely with its seeming-cream blooms; but I’d hate to see rare flowers picked.
Native heath or common heath (Epacris impressa, above) continues the lovely bell flowers that I associate with winter, but can flower, really, from autumn to spring. Several have sprung up along our drive where the soil is rather barren and very well-drained (and still, from before our time, a little damaged from the hard hooves of horses); mainly white but some delicious pink ones too. How I wish this was easy to propagate!
Wattles continue their golden show: myrtle wattles (Acacia myrtifolia) nearly over, prickly moses (A. verticillata) covered in bright lemon rods, tall blackwoods (A. melanoxylon) with soft primrose balls.

Wood ducks (or maned geese) seem to live year-round at the end of our street; yesterday I had my first glimpse of ducklings. Handsome, sleek, with great personality, they are a joy to see. The birds fly to our dam (and they brought ducklings there too, in the past, and may now still, we just can’t see it) but I envy the neighbour who has a lawn decorated, it seems, by a throng of the wild birds at all seasons.
Jill Weatherhead is horticulturist, garden designer and principal at Jill Weatherhead Garden Design and garden writer who lives in the Dandenong Ranges east of Melbourne, and works throughout Victoria (

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