Christmas Bells

Christmas Bells
Christmas Bells - Blandfordia nobilis

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Christmas Bells - early arrival - 2 December 2007

Yesterday, I found my first Christmas Bells of the season. It was much earlier than one I found last year, at Butler's Swamp. That was in late-January.OK, "one swallow does not a summer make" - but it is always a thrill for me, to see Christmas Bells (Blandfordia nobilis). Obviously they appeal to the child in me. I recall reading about them, first, in Vance Palmer's "The Passage". And they are so strongly associated with the Christmas event, even if their timing is a bit "flexible". As an old Canberran, I appreciate the fact that they do not grow in Canberra - except in the Botanic Gardens. Here, in the Southern Highlands of NSW, they grow wild in sedge grass and heathland.

Such wonderful vibrant flowers in a sea of otherwise dull-looking grassy foliage in an "Upland Swamp".The photo above was photographed from the car, for the plant is growing not far from the road, out at Budderoo. OK, I used a long lens, but still is is just a few metres off the road. Here is a close- up image of this wonderful flower.
Another plant of the wet sandstone areas is the spectacular red Bottlebrush, (Callistemon citrinus). This one was growing at Tourist Road, Kangaloon, in bushland, adjacent to a wet swampy area. It also grows at Budderoo.Here is a Grass Tree (Xanthorrhoea resinosa) growing at Butler's Swamp, Kangaloon. The habitat here is similar to, but not identical with, the area on the Budderoo Plateau. Both places are classed as "upland swamps on sandstone".
Here is a photo of the stem of another Grass Tree, which is just coming into flower. It is interesting to note that a single stem of the Grass Tree has many hundreds of flowers. And also, their positioning is not random, not radial, around the stem, but has the two diagonally intersecting spiral patterns.Those intersecting spiral patterns, although not obvious at first glance on this plant, are there if you look carefully. Look for a steeply angled line from bottom right to top left; than look in the opposite angle, for a shallower spiral line, going up from bottom left to top right.
That is typical of the arrangement of flowers on compound flower structures, such as the native Isopogon or the domesticated Sunflower. This pattern is defined by the ratios of "Fibonacci Numbers". Here is the Isopogon - for a classic Fibonacci numbers demonstration.Back to the Grass Tree, at mid-distance the stems are quite beautiful, with rich, waxy white flower buds bursting from the dense brown fibrous matting of the flower stem.And finally, two individual flowers, in close-up, bursting out like tiny crowns, much as the wonderful Michael Leunig might draw a king's crown - a little bit bent and twisted, but natural.


Miss Eagle said...

One of the things I love about Sydney, is all the Christmas Bells. They are everywhere - even popping up like weeds between buildings. It is a special Christmas feeling.

Blessings and bliss

Denis Wilson said...

Hmmm, Not sure about Christmas Bells popping up in cracks of paving, between buildings. It usually likes heathland and swampy areas, only .

It was once widespread, but DEVELOPERS have cleared its habitat along NSW and Qld coastline and turned coastal swamps into "marinas" with houses (and mosquitoes) instead of the plants which originally lived there. Think Gold Coast, etc.

I suspect that what you have seen might be Kalanchoe ("Mother of Millions"), or else Watsonias. Both tubular flowers.

Anyway, the Christmas Bell is a lovely plant, wherever you find it.