WA in the wildflower month

For the past two months there have been no new posts to this blog, as I needed a break and time and energy for other matters.

One of these was a commitment in Western Australia (WA).  As happened in March 2012, a friend and colleague invited Helen and me to “look after his shop”, located 200 km NW of Perth, while he was overseas.  This meant speaking at weekly church meetings, running two fortnightly church ed classes, and supporting various Christian programs in two Wheatbelt towns as requested and helpful.  In our free time we were able to enjoy one of WA’s best features in springtime: its wildflowers.  Wow!

We are enjoying so very, very much our mix of retirement living, Christian and other voluntary service, the ability to keep in touch with our far flung family members, and time to reconnect with old and new friends… God is so good to us.

For some reason this largest of the Australian States also has by far the largest and most beautiful display of native flora in the nation, and among the best in the world.  Because of Oz’s temperate climate there are always wildflowers to be found, everywhere.  But of course spring is the best time to look for them.  I read that for six picturesque months, 12,000 plant species carpet the state with their vivid beauty – and that more varieties are still being discovered!  And over 60% of these species are found nowhere else in the world.

We found that September’s displays were mostly on the ground and on shrubs.  Most larger bushes and the trees flower later.  We were based in Wongan Hills, at the southern edge of the most popular wildflower region.  The other town where we worked was Dalwallinu, which takes pride in the title of being “the world’s wattle capital”.

Being asked to be the “visiting speaker” at the town’s annual Wattle Week Festival Combined Church Service, I learnt a few things that may be of interest here.  There are some 1350 species of Acacia (wattles) found throughout the world and almost 1000 of these are to be found in Australia.  Within 100 kms of Dalwallinu there are 185 species of Acacia, the largest number to be found anywhere in the world.  And wattle is Australia’s floral emblem and gave the country its colours, green and gold.

We were amazed that although WA is a huge expanse of sand, red dust and mostly arid land it has so much life and beauty, much of it thriving in what seem to us humans very barren, stingy and unforgiving conditions.

Seeing so much beauty in unlikely and sometimes unexpected places, we reflected often on the wonder and mystery of our world and lives.  We also remarked often and celebrated the breath-taking beauty we believe God has given us to discover, enjoy – and look after.  Speaking at the Combined Wattle Week Service, it was both a challenge and a privilege to relate this wonderful beauty of the world of flora to God’s grace in a broken world with its unpredictable events and conditions – especially in a farming community with all its worries and woes.

Here is a small sample of what we captured on photo. More photos may be found on my Facebook and soon on my Flickr pages (click them on the Blogroll to the right). Click on the image for a closer look.

The Wandering Postman or Kennedia prostrata has branches that grow up to 2 m long - the original Australians used them as string.
The Wandering postman, Scarlet runner, or Kennedia prostrata has branches that grow up to 2 m long – the original Australians used them as string.
The Donkey Orchid - Diurus corymbosa - is one of many exquisite native orchid varieties.
The Donkey Orchid – Diurus corymbosa – is one of many exquisite native orchid varieties.
Cowslips orchids (Caladenia flava) were very common.
Cowslips orchids (Caladenia flava) were very common.
Another orchid we saw often was the Spider (Caladenia denticulata).
Another orchid we saw often was the Spider (Caladenia denticulata).
Kangaroo paws (Anigozanthus manglesii)  were everywhere in Kings Park in Perth- one of the best displays in several years.
Kangaroo paws (Anigozanthus manglesii) were everywhere in Kings Park in Perth- one of the best displays in several years. Click to see a lot more!
The Black kangaroo paw (Macropida fuliginosa) was one native flower we had not heard of before.
The Black kangaroo paw (Macropida fuliginosa) was one native flower we had not heard of before.
The remarkable Wreath Lechenaultia (Lechenaultia macrantha) we had also never seen or heard of.
The remarkable Wreath Lechenaultia (Lechenaultia macrantha) we had also never seen or heard of.
We found the Wreath Lechenaultia in great numbers - but not in the bush: rather on the road verges 100 km north of Dalwallinu.
We found the Wreath Lechenaultia in great numbers – but not in the bush: rather on the road verges 100 km north of Dalwallinu.
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Roads lined with wattle
The wildflowers often covered the ground.
Bush carpeted with everlastings in great variety.
Bush carpeted with everlastings in great variety.
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We did often get up close and personal with the flowers.

For those with an interest or passion for WA’s wildflowers, there are excellent websites I found helpful, including Wildflowers in the West and Wildflowers of Western Australia as well as WesternAustralia.com’s Wildflower Species Guide.  And even if wildflowers and WA mean little to you, take a look: you may get a taste for something very special!

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