A blooming good wildflower season

[ad_1]

AN exceptional year for crops in Western Australia’s northern agricultural region has turned out to be an equally wonderful year for wildflowers.

A full soil moisture profile kept topped up by regular showers and the ground now heated by warming and lengthening days has turned up the dial on nature’s annual floral display to ‘prolific’ this year.

Rarely, in the context of expansiveness, density and probably also variety, but a botanist would have to confirm that, has the annual wildflower season across the Midlands and now moving south through the Central Wheatbelt and Goldfields into the Great Southern, matched this year’s display.

At perennial popular Midlands locations like Coalseam Conservation Park and Pindar – home of the unique wreath flower Lechenaultia macrantha – favoured by amateur botanists, dedicated wildflower enthusiasts and tourists who simply appreciate the splash of spring colour, the ground is covered by bobbing swathes of yellow, pink, mauve and white everlasting daisies.

Bush understories of dense everlastings, Billy Buttons and Pompom Heads have their own understories this year of even smaller dwarf daisies and tiny native orchids.

Beneath the carpet of Pompom Heads in Coalseam Conservation Park are a mat of tiny yellow daisies.

Beneath the carpet of Pompom Heads in Coalseam Conservation Park are a mat of tiny yellow daisies.

But visitors need not go to specific locations to enjoy the beauty and diversity of daisies, heaths, waxes and wattles on show.

A trip out of town in any direction from any Midlands locality will quickly turn up roadsides lined with colour and corners of paddocks carpeted with wildflowers butting up to impressive canola, wheat and barley crops.

Showy pink and white Geraldton Wax bushes, orange-flowered Acorn Banksias and varieties of brilliant golden wattles that more than match the colour intensity of neighbouring flowering canola crops and make wearing sunglasses mandatory, line the verges of main roads like the Mingenew-Morawa Road.

You do not have to risk tyre damage or getting bogged on less-frequented sandy back tracks to take in the roadside rainbow of colour this year.

Spoon drains along each side of country roads collect and store intermittent sun-shower runoff from the road surface and effectively slowly irrigate the adjacent verges as the surrounding countryside dries out, so nature’s colourful visual spring bounty is often at its best beside the bitumen.

To truly appreciate the diversity of flowering roadside plants at this time of year, it is well worth leaving the car in any of the road-side parking bays and going for a walk along the edge of the road for 100 metres or so – but great care is needed because passing traffic is generally travelling at 100 kilometres an hour (towing a caravan or heavy vehicles) or more.

A sea of pink everlasting daisies in the corner of a Midlands wheat paddock.

A sea of pink everlasting daisies in the corner of a Midlands wheat paddock.

Every so often a spectacular Honey Grevillea – its yellow and green flowers look like streamlined birds on stalks – will stick its sparse head up above the roadside rest, or a bright red bottlebrush – Grevilleas and Hakeas – will stand out from the surrounding shrubbery.

Fighting for space and sunlight between the bigger bushes will be smaller shrubs – a myriad of Eremophila varieties and Dampiera among them – but not all the pretty blue flowers visitors admire are Dampiera.

The blue hue of the introduced, very competitive, declared noxious weed Salvation Jane, also known as Patterson’s Curse, which is toxic in varying degrees to different livestock, has been more noticeable in the last two years.

It is often seen along roadsides, in some fallow paddocks and in Coalseam Conservation Park behind Miners’ Campground where it is slowly taking over in patches from the wildflowers.

For a number of years my wife Naomi and I have taken at least one three-day weekend in September to visit the Midlands to see the wildflowers and this year is definitely the best display we have seen.

Individual flowers on individual stems with some still closed in the early morning.

Individual flowers on individual stems with some still closed in the early morning.

Some years we have camped at Coalseam, but suspecting the campground was likely to be full this year for wildflower season, we chose to use Geraldton as a base and spent a day completing a loop that took in both Coalseam Conservation Park and the wreath flowers at Pindar.

We made several stops along the Nangatty-Walkaway Road and Mingenew-Mullewa Road just getting to Coalseam to look at fantastic displays of colour along the roadside and, in one case, a triangle of bright pink and yellow everlasting daisies – mostly Brachyscome ciliocarpa to our untrained eye – in the corner of a paddock beside a wheat crop.

The whole of Coalseam Conservation Park was quite literally covered in yellow Pompom Heads (Cephalipterum drummondii) turning the hills yellow beneath the gnarled and sparse tree cover.

Coalseam Conservation Park lookout is surrounded by yellow Pompom Heads.

Coalseam Conservation Park lookout is surrounded by yellow Pompom Heads.

Up close there were patches of alternate pink or mauve everlasting daisies and White Paper Daisies interspersed with the Pom Pom Heads.

In places, the shades of yellow changed to slightly darker, with two varieties of Billy Buttons (Calocephalus platycephalus and Helipterum craspediodes) and towards Miners Campground a tiny yellow daisy only a centimetre or so across the flower formed the ground cover beneath the Pompom Heads.

The Irwin River which has cut its way down through the centre of the park over the eons, leaving a spectacular cliff face and ancient fossils on the east back, was a still a series of water holes when we were there, with a trickle of water over the road causeway adding to the photo opportunities.

The roadside display continued from Coalseam along Mingenew-Mullewa Road to Mullewa where we turned east along Geraldton- Mt Magnet Road for 29 kilometres to Pindar then joined a constant stream of cars, motorhomes and tourist buses heading north on the Berringarra-Pindar Road.

 White and yellow Pompom Heads beside a country road.

White and yellow Pompom Heads beside a country road.

Wreath flowers – named because of their natural shape – do grow elsewhere in the Midlands, but one of the most popular locations to view them is just inside Tallering station’s front entrance, on Berringarra-Pindar Road.

This year the wreath flowers extended along both sides of the road for several hundred metres – they grow in the disturbed soil along the road edge – and were much more dense and in better condition than we had ever seen them.

Our trip home the next day was a scenic back road from Geraldton to Mingenew, across to Morawa and down the Wubin-Mullewa Road to join the Great Northern Highway, simply so we could check out one of our favourite wildflower locations at Koolanooka, between Morawa and Perenjori.

On the west side of Wubin-Mullewa Road, the old Malcolm Road turnoff and the new Malcolm Road turnoff has created a triangle of bush and the edges of that never disappoint when it comes to viewing wildflowers.

This year it was exceptional, with a display or bright pink everlastings on the southern side and a variety of flowers and flowering bushes along the west side, including three very showy but we understand unusual that far north, Chamaexeros fimbriata – a haze of tiny bright yellow flowers with green spiky leaves sticking up through them.

A close-up of the intricate flower heads.

A close-up of the intricate flower heads.

The best locations to view wildflowers are not hard to find, a stop at any of the tourist information centres in any of the towns or a question to roadhouse or shop staff during fuel and food stops will point you in the right direction.

WANT TO KNOW MORE?

  • www.wildflowersocietywa.org.au
  • www.wildflowercountry.com.au



[ad_2]

Source link