GARDENING | Spring reminds us of our emotional connection to plants

New Holland Honeyeater feeding on the red bloom of Aussie wild flowers in Tasmania. Picture: Martin Pelanek.
New Holland Honeyeater feeding on the red bloom of Aussie wild flowers in Tasmania. Picture: Martin Pelanek.

Mid-September is the perfect time to explore the great Australian bush, when it comes alive in a blaze of colour and perfume as native plants compete for the services of the pollinators.

This spectacular display is not to be missed and with plants such as bacon and eggs, boronia, false sarsaparilla, wattle, bottle brush, tea trees, rice flowers, mint bush and in the sandstone regions, the unforgettable waratah, all putting their best on show.

The spring palette of the bush is the envy and inspiration of many artists, with numerous tones, hues and textures making it so unique. But is not just the flowers on show - there are all manner of organisms making the most of spring's abundance.

Insects like wasps, beetles and native bees are ready to render their services, with nectar being the currency of choice.

The insects don't have it all to themselves though, marsupials including pigmy possums and sugar gliders also assist some native plants with pollination.

Birds also play a major role and many species of plants have flowers ingeniously designed to adapt to the feeding habits of nature's little tipplers, to ensure each flower is pollinated.

Tread carefully and you just might witness some of our most beautiful native creatures engaging in an intimate relationship with the flowers.

Bringing the bush into the backyard is another way of being able to engage with native fauna by providing habitat for animals and insects to flourish.

Grevilleas, kangaroo paw and banksias will certainly draw the rosellas, lorikeets, wattle birds and honeyeaters into the garden.

Smaller birds prefer smaller flowers and also a place to hide. Dense fine leaf grevilleas, hakeas, lilli pilli, westringia and climbers like pandorea provide a great habitat for smaller wrens, finches and honeyeaters to feed and hide. Banksias, casuarinas and wattles are ideal for attracting seed eaters such as galahs and cockatoos.

For more than 40,000 years our first nations people have exercised stewardship of the land its animals and plants.

It is easy to appreciate why this connection to the land runs so deep when we witness native plants in bloom.

The intellectual and emotional relationship we have with plants is one to be continuously nurtured and spring is here to remind us.