Celebrating: spring pinks and reds

It's spring! And my goodness aren't the pinks and reds of all the local plants making themselves known? There's fresh colour appearing right across the escarpment, along the coastline, and in the damp creek gullies, with plants busy putting out new shoots, leaves, flowers and even fruit. 

But really the leaves are the thing! So many reds, oranges, pinks, mauves and crimsons are out at the moment. I just had to do a little survey of what's on offer.

First and foremost is the new foliage of the Red Cedar (Toona ciliata). It's turning parts of the escarpment purple-red right now. Close up the leaves are absolutely amazing. Image by Deonne Nobbs.

Look at the gorgeous peachy and plummy new leaf tones on this endangered Scrub Ironwood (Gossia acmenoides) growing along the lower creek in the Wollongong Botanic Garden. This is one of many amazing Illawarra local plants in that part of the Garden. It's worth a look if you're in the area getting a snack from the coffee cart. Image by Emma Rooksby.

Who can resist the gorgeous drooping leaves of the Bleeding Heart (Homalanthus populifolius)? This plant's leaves were particularly droopy, to the point where I wondered if the plant was OK. It seems to have perked up again in the last day or so, thank goodness. Image by Emma Rooksby.

Everyone loves cheese, or at least a Cheese Tree, right? This little Glochidion ferdinandi is just the right size for the new leaves to fit into a photo. But even the biggest local Cheese Trees, 10m or so more in height, are covered in colourful new leaves right now, after a semi-deciduous period during late winter. Image by Emma Rooksby.

This shot shows striking red new leaves of a Tree Heath (Trochocarpa laurina). This plant is only a baby, but an established tree can be glowing like red-hot pokers when its new foliage appears. 
There are just too many colourful leaf options out there! And that's before we get to the masses of Red Cedars (
Toona ciliata) putting on new leaves along the escarpment. They're a bit tricky to photograph but I hope to have a decent shot soon. 

It should be said though that a lot of focus in gardening is on flowers. So I wanted to add shots of a few red and pink flowers that are out at the moment, particularly the Austral Indigo (Indigofera australis), but also a couple of others that call the sandstone soils up on the plateau home (warning: a lecture is coming up!). 
Austral Indigo (Indigofera australis) doing its thing. So much colour, and it attracts all sorts of insect pollinators too. Image by Emma Rooksby. 

Ooops, had to add this sneaky Waratah shot. Telopea speciosissima is one of the plants that Growing Illawarra Natives doesn't encourage people to grow if you live on the coastal plain or the escarpment slopes - it is just too unreliable. But now and then, in the right conditions and with appropriate care, a Waratah can do well. This one at Wollongong Botanic Garden is just starting to flower. Image by Emma Rooksby. 

Oh, OK, so ANOTHER Hawkesbury sandstone species has appeared. Yes, it's true that most of the plants with red flowers that grow naturally in the Illawarra are up on the plateau, growing on sandstone. And most of them do very poorly on clay soils. But this one, Red Spider-flower (Grevillea oleoides) is one that is fairly adaptable. Not that I want to give you any ideas!! Image by Emma Rooksby.

So that's a bit of a survey of the local colour at the moment. Much more is happening out there, so put on your walking boots and have a look at what is flowering, fruiting and 'leafing' near you! If you'd like to share, pop over to the Growing Illawarra Natives group on Facebook. 

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