Tuesday, 9 September 2014

Celebrating Spring Sunshine in Orchid-rich Bushland

Hopefully a new tradition, our second outing with friends Ian and Diane to nearby orchid-rich bushland at Baluk Wilam Nature Reserve in Belgrave South at – where else? – Orchid Rd – yesterday yielded dizzying numbers of greenhood orchids (captured on camera of course, the modern equivalent of recording and capture for many of us, I think. Gone are butterfly nets, egg collecting and – for most of us, thankfully, duck and other kinds of shooting).

Greenhood orchids (Pterostylis) are the shy little cousins to the dazzling cymbidium orchids you can buy in nurseries and florists; short, small, grass-green and translucent; perhaps an acquired taste. But oh so pretty in their clumps - and one patch was a startling hundred strong.

Then we found the mosquito orchids: tiny, maroon-brown, exquisite and neat; perfect. Or were they the maroonhoods?

Other flowers seen were strongly fragrant, pure white blooms of Scented Sun Dew (`I won’t be able to smell this...oh!’), a few daffodil-yellow guinea flowers (Hibbertia), red Mistletoe, pink heath (Epacris), 3 or 4 different wattles, tall and short, and many plants of the purple-flowering Hovea, its violet peas standing out beautifully against the brown trunks of long leaf box.

Of the greenhoods we saw tall ones (or were they black-tongued?), nodding, cobra and mountain greenhoods.

To perfectly round out the day we then found some spider orchids. Bliss!

Jill Weatherhead is horticulturist, garden designer and principal at Jill Weatherhead Garden Design who lives in the Dandenong Ranges east of Melbourne, and works throughout Victoria (www.jillweatherheadgardendesign.com.au)


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