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7 Oct 2020

Explore the plants blooming in the Garden this October

Every plant in our Garden has a story to tell. Learn more about those flowering this October by following the virtual tour below.

Florida Anise Tree - Illicium floridanum

This is an attractive shrub with unusual dark red flowers loves shady locations with moist to wet soils. It comes from the swamps of southern USA states, Florida and Louisiana and montane forests of northern Mexico. Both flowers and crushed leaves have a distinctive smell. The smell of the flowers and the heat they generate attract small flies, who carry out pollination. It is a close relative of the spice, star anise (Illicium verum), from China and Vietnam, but it is not edible. 

Maiden's Blush - Sloanea australis

This rainforest tree is endemic to the east coast of Australia, occurring in sub-tropical rainforests and moist gullies from sea level to the lower ranges. The common name refers to the pink colour of the timber, resembling a ‘maiden's blush’. The tree is also distinguished by its bright red new growth and creamy-white flowers. Reaching a height of 30 metres, it often produces significant buttressing at the base of the trunk, a feature that assists in anchoring the tree where the soils are shallow.

Stream Lily - Helmholtzia glaberrima

This large, strappy- leaved plant is growing next to a bridge crossing a small rill in our Fernery. Large flowering spikes covered in small, white flowers are emerging above the dark green leaves. This rare Australian plant grows naturally in moist rainforest gullies next to streams. Its extensive underground rhizome helps secure plants during flooding. It can grow to 2.5 metres tall and wide but only occurs in the remnants of the Mt Warning volcano in northern NSW and southern Queensland.

Tree Waratah - Alloxylon flammeum

This beautiful tree comes from the ancient rainforests of the Atherton Tablelands in Queensland. Like Banksias, Macadamias and Waratahs, it belongs to the Proteaceae family. The bright orange flowers, rich in nectar, attract native parrots such as Rainbow Lorikeets. The genus name, Alloxylon is derived from Greek words meaning, “strange wood” and refers to the very unusual and attractive grain of the timber. See items made from salvaged Tree Waratah wood from our Garden, at the Culivate exhibition in Lion Gate Lodge, October 17-25.

Pride of Madiera - Echium species and cultivars

Follow the bees, and you will find a number of different Echium varieties flowering on our Dragon Tree Lawn. Their spectacular, tall spikes of blue or white flowers tower above mounds of grey-green, hairy foliage and are a magnet for bees. The species and cultivars in this garden originate from the Canary Islands, where they grow on rocky slopes and cliffs. They are popular garden plants, but care needs to be taken, as some have become weeds, including their close relative, Paterson’s Curse, (Echium plantagineum).

Giant Spear Lily - Doryanthes palmeri

This is a striking and robust plant, forming a huge rosette of 3-metre long leaves. In late spring, huge flower spikes, up to 5-metre long, emerge and arch under the weight of hundreds of individual, nectar rich, red flowers. It is a close relative of the local Gymea Lily (Doryanthes excelsa) and is listed as a vulnerable species due to its restricted distribution. It grows on rocky cliffs and slopes on infertile soils next to the subtropical rainforest in northern NSW and southern Queensland.

The Australian Rockery

This garden built for the 2000 Olympics celebrates its 20th anniversary this year and has never looked better. New Grevillea plantings have been recently added to complement a range of striking flowering plants from all over Australia but especially Western Australian. Native Everlasting Daisies, Emu Bush, Darwinias, Verticordia and Kangaroo Paws create a tapestry of colour from which emerge towering Gymea Lily and Grass Tree flowering spikes.

Forest Red Gum - Eucalyptus tereticornis

These two trees are thought to predate the arrival of Europeans in Australia. They are remnants of the original forests that grew in this part of Sydney and have stood witness to the modern transformation of Australia. Forest Red Gum has the largest latitude distribution of any Eucalypt, growing from south eastern Victoria to Papua New Guinea. Their leaves are used to produce Eucalyptus oil, and their flowers are important for honey production.

Learn more

Coming in to the Gardens, why not use our Garden Explorer Plant Finder to visit these plants by following the October Must See tour

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