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21 Sep 2020

Sea of Western Australian paper daisies to take over Mount Annan this spring

Over a million Western Australian Paper daises will create a lush carpet of pink, yellow and white at the Australian Botanic Garden Mount Annan for its annual spring display.

The insta-worthy flowerbeds are situated at the base of the Connections Garden and covers a total area of more than 2,0000 square metres – that is the size of 1.6 Olympic swimming pools! 

The vibrant flowerbeds are in bloom from early September through to the end October and are free to see during their season from 8.00 am to 5.00 pm.

Every year the dedicated horticulture team at the Garden start working in May on the annual display. The seeds are sown en-masse, netted, fed and watered carefully over the next three months to ensure a bright and colourful display of these Western Australian Natives over spring.
 
The lush paper daisy plants are surprisingly frost resistant, however the ducks love eating them, hence why the netting is required leading up to the ‘unveiling’!
 
The main species are from Western Australia and purchased in bulk from wildflower seed suppliers. The main species you see on display include Rhodanthe chlorocephala subsp. rosea (Rosy sunray or pink and white everlasting), Rhodanthe manglesii (Pink sunray, Mangles' everlasting), and Schoenia filifolia subsp. subulifolia (Showy everlasting).

Inspired by a visit to Western Australia

Inspiration for the display started when the Garden’s Seedbank Manager, Dr Peter Cuneo, visited the wildflower displays in Western Australia’s Kings Park in 1995. He said to himself “we have to have a go at that!”, and we are lucky he did because it has become one of the few places on the east coast visitors can enjoy mass plantings of these wonderful, spring time flowers.

The Garden’s horticulturists started experimenting in 1996 with displays in front of the Connections Garden and from there kept getting bigger each year as they were a huge hit with the visitors. One of Peter’s most memorable paper daisy displays was to mark the 10th anniversary of the Australian Botanic Garden Mount Annan in 1998.

The display continued to evolve over the years, with the clever use of showy perennial plants now part of the display and nice use of summer flowering annuals such as Ptilotus (Mulla Mulla) and Isotoma to keep the flower display well into summer. It now features over a million flowers and is one of the most photographed and visited spring displays in Sydney, from locals to internationals.
 
Peter says the secret to getting nice dense flower displays is to direct sow the seed onto the prepared areas when the soil cools down in autumn – which follows what happens in nature!

Direct seeding removes the need to plant thousands of individual plants! Seeds germinate in autumn and grow slowly over winter, and then burst into flower in September.
Dr Peter Cuneo, Seedbank Manager

Grow your own

If you want to create your own beautiful botanic display next year then paper daisy seeds are available at the Visitor Centre. Information and expert tips on how to grow your own at home from our horticultural expert, Stuart Elder, Supervisor Display Horticulture, are available here.

The Garden also features 20 km of walking tracks, lakes, garden displays, picnic areas and a Stonehenge-type sundial and outdoor sculptures. Find out what’s on and plan your trip here.

Meet our horticulturists

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