All of the colors ran out
We was a-scuttle about
Do you remember-o…
Robyn Hitchcock ~ “You and Oblivion”
I always experience the onset of Spring (yes, I like to capitalise the seasons!) in Brisbane with mixed feelings. As a walker here in the subtropics, I enjoy winter, at least when it’s sunny. You can walk for hours in comfort, and even a “cold” day here is well above 0° C. Nights I have survived for years, despite being quite cold-intolerant, without any artificial heating at all. If there’s one thing hiking has taught me, it’s how to layer!
So Spring means the cool-weather dream is fading and the long, hot Summer of less pleasant walking is not far off. Because, really, Spring in these parts is the narrowest of doorways before the serious heat and humidity barge in. I’m not much of a swimmer, don’t like crowded beaches or music festivals, and walking Moreton Island, say, in hot weather would be like an ant strolling through a microwave oven.
But I’m making the most of this narrow doorway. One of the pleasures of doing 10km or so of strolling each day is discovering the horticultural highlights of my neighbourhood. Here are some recent shots of Spring colour exploding onto the footpaths in my local area. Most of these flowers are in people’s front yards, most are exotics, and I particularly enjoy those that seem to be erupting exuberantly over fence, wall, or gate — softening edges between private and public space and smothering clean, sterile lines in anarchic colour.
These Hippeastrums near the waterfront a few weeks ago were the real harbingers of Spring for me, their riotous candy-striped petals held in check between fence and hedge:
A few weeks of glory and the uprising was quelled; now these solemn seed-heads make a more subdued but still bold statement:
A lone geranium stalk probes through the palings:
Bougainvillea bracts bolting over another fence. This is a very common vine in these parts — almost indestructible. I find some strains too harsh on the eye, but like these relatively subtle tones:
Lilies, bold and majestic:
Originally from Asia, star jasmine, Trachelospermum jasminoides, grows spectacularly in Brisbane gardens and is at its peak right now, spilling over front fences and gates all over my neighbourhood. As its scientific name attests, it’s not a true jasmine, but its flowers are the ones used to flavour Thai jasmine rice.
You can often smell it before you see it, one of the delights of Brisbane as it starts warming up:
This magnificent waterfront garden is one of the true masterpieces in these parts. Yes, a virtual roof of star jasmine over its gate:
On its street-side fringes, Agapanthus is just beginning to bloom. This southern African native is so common in street plantings as to be almost a cliche, but it thrives here with minimal attention:
It’s constantly windy here, but Agapanthus can take a beating and doesn’t mind the salt air at all:
Neither does lavender. I’m in the habit of pulling off a flower head to rub between my fingers every time I pass — surprised there are any left:
Strelitza, or bird of paradise flower, is another South African native that can take a hammering. This little waterfront flock looks like it’s ready to get airborne and ride the sou-easter out of here:
Some cottage-garden splendour in the backstreets:
Another iconic Brisbane bloom that is actually an import, the superb purple-flowered Jacaranda is a native of Brazil. It’s practically a symbol of Spring in this city and can be found on almost every street. This one’s at the local town hall:
Petals adorn the footpath outside one of my regular haunts:
And in the park where a magpie drew blood in September:
At last, a local identity, the Illawarra flame tree The second part of this beautiful tree’s scientific name, Brachychiton acerifolius, means “maple leaf”, and it is one of our few deciduous natives, losing half or more of its leaves after the dry season and right before it bursts into crimson bloom:
It’s not all flowers, though. Another iconic South-East Queensland tree, and another import, is the mango. At the end of my street, juvenile fruits spill out over the footpath:
Mango trees grow to prodigious size and provide deep, dense shade. Unfortunately for these young ‘uns, the local flying fox colony is right next-door, so their chances of reaching a ripe old age are slim!
Oleanders in a neighbour’s garden (mentioned in the previous post). They’re poisonous and — take it from me — digging out an unwanted shrub is one of life’s less joyful activities:
And through another fence, in an unkempt patch of lawn, some weeds (these are catsears) are putting on a less spectacular but no less beautiful show:
~ And that’s all the Goat wrote