Christmas Bells

Christmas Bells
Christmas Bells - Blandfordia nobilis

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Waratahs flower for Springtime in Robertson

Today the Springtime in Robertson festival was launched.
The Robertson Heritage Railway Station hosted the first events, on the Robertson Common, with a series of displays from admirers of vintage motors, model rail enthusiasts, the Robertson Environment Protection Society people, and a floral art display (featuring Waratahs).

Here is Peter Vaughan, the local mechanic, and enthusiast for vintage motors, (who mercifully was able to replace my own car's water pump, last week). Peter is very proud of this little motor, which, powers a pump, although such a motor might well be used to power other devices, via a belt drive.On the left of this photo (below) is Robert Randall, (a backhoe operator) who I met before I even moved to Robertson. Robert helped me choose the land where I settled in Robertson, based upon the quality of the soil. I had told Robert I wanted deep red soil, and he guided my choice between a range of possible sites. I trust Robert's judgement, because he has worked with the soil (and rock) in Robertson, all his adult life.
Robert and Peter, along with some of the local farmers, are proudly keeping alive a tradition which transformed the face of rural Australia. Whether or not you approve of how the country has been transformed, there is something marvellous about these old motors. I am particularly fond of the relatively slow pace at which these motors turn. Somehow, it is both powerful and safe - safe in the sense that they could be operated at speeds closer to that at which humans operate.The largest motor on display today (above) bears this plate proclaiming it as Austral Oil Engine No. 4751. It was manufactured by Ronaldson Bros and Tippett Pty Ltd, Ballarat, for Moffatt Virtue Ltd, Sydney. Judging by the number of responses I got from a simple Google Search, and the number of photos on the link I have inserted (above) there are many lovers of these old engines.
And now let us go back to the Waratahs of Robertson. I strongly believe that the town of Robertson ought become known as the town of Waratahs, for we do them better than just about anywhere that I know of. Let me hasten to add that, as regular readers will know, Robertson is on rich red basalt soil, and so, while Waratahs grow close by, naturally - at Kangaloon and Belmore Falls and Carrington Falls, (on the sandstone soil) they do not naturally occur in Robertson. This area originally was covered in dense rainforest, which is so dense it excludes Waratahs. But, when planted in this soil, the Waratahs thrive.

Dr David Tranter, is the pioneer of Waratah growing in the local area.
David has a preference for the form of the NSW Waratah - the true species, that is (Telopea speciosissima), of which these flowers (below) are an example. For the perfect flower, David far prefers plants of the true species. The large bracts surrounding the flowers are diagnostic, as are the serrated leaves.But David has also planted around Robertson hundreds of specimens of the modern hybrid varieties of Waratah which have been introduced into cultivation. David explained to me today, he prefers to grow the Hybrid Waratah "Corroboree" in Robertson, as a garden plant - by which he means a plant grown for its overall effect in the garden, rather than a plant grown for the perfect form of individual flowers. It is a hybrid between the NSW Waratah, and the southern NSW species, Telopea mongaensis.

Despite David's demurring about the less than perfect form of many of these hybrid Waratahs, some of them produce wonderful specimen flowers.

A near-perfect flower of Waratah "Corroboree"
This stem is a good example of the floriferous nature of the modern Hybrid Waratahs. This is "Corroboree", but the varieties called "Shady Lady" or the newer "Red Shady Lady" are very similar to this plant in habit and flower form. They are the result of a cross with the Victorian species Telopea oreadesDavid Tranter is largely responsible for the many Waratahs planted in the public areas around Roberson, such as at the Robertson Common, and across the Railway line, and at Hampden Park, along Caalang Creek, and at the newly developed Pinkwood Park.
For full impact as a garden or Public Park planting, the hybrid Waratah, such as this specimen of the cultivar "Corroboree", is surely hard to beat. This is one of many wonderful specimens planted in Pinkwood Park, in Robertson, by David Tranter and other members of REPS, which organisation has operated as the custodian of this Park. They are to be found opposite the Post Office, on Hoddle Street, up towards the top end of town.

No comments: