AS we pass through the winter solstice (June 21), in gardening terms, it is now a downhill run to spring.
However, there are still plenty of plants that flower in winter, especially our Australian plants.
Going for an early morning walk around the Botanic Gardens, I had not gone more than 50 metres without seeing yet another plant in flower.
Starting from the Visitor’s Centre (open from 9.30am), collect a copy of Barbara Daly’s “In Flower This Week”. The plants listed are also clearly signposted in the gardens. However, if you take an early morning walk, followed by a coffee at the revamped Café Floresco (open from 8am), you will need to collect your “In Flower This Week” the day before or at anbg.gov.au
At the start of my walk are the spectacular flowers of Corymbia “Summer Beauty” (pictured here). It’s an interesting name considering it flowers in winter. Behind this are the emerging spikes the compact Banksia “Stumpy Gold” – perfect for the small garden.
Next to it is the mass of white, fluffy flowers Acacia alata var. biglandulosa, possibly one of the first wattles to flower and now on the endangered list.
A few metres along, the honey-coloured flowers of Homoranthus flavescens are about to burst from their buds.
Tea trees are one of my favourites with Leptospermum squarrosum in full flower, its delicate pink petals resemble miniature crabapple flowers.
The “Banksia Men” in the banksia section are always a favourite for children and the stories woven around May Gibbs’ books.
Special attention has been given to children with the Children’s Discovery Trail. There are colourful signs throughout the gardens, with a flip-top lid to find out who lives in particular spots in the gardens, ie goannas, etcetera. It would be a competition between this trail and the rain forest as to which is the favourite for children.
As we move along the track we see Banksia robur with its huge distinctive purple leaves in winter, great for dried-flower arrangements.
One the way back to the Visitor’s Centre, I noticed the deep-red flowers of the grafted Grevillea bipinnatifida “Jingle Bells”.
One of the most brilliant flower colours for winter is Epacris impressa, also pictured here, and who would not want this to brighten up their garden?
One new addition to the Gardens is the “Flora Explorer” bus, a fantastic idea I understand originating with Warwick Wright. Financed by the Friends of the ANBG, this 12-seat, electric, whisper-quiet passenger vehicle transports visitors around the gardens.
It’s ideal for those a bit wobbly on the legs or for taking young children on a journey of discovery.
The Flora Explorer stops at various intervals for photo opportunities. It departs the Visitor’s Centre at 1pm on Saturdays, Sundays and public holidays. Tickets, available from the Botanical Bookshop, are $6 and children $3.
Bag of books winner
The winner of Cedric’s bag of five gardening books is Jennifer Milsteed.