Mildura Weekly : Friday January 24 2014 Vol 8 No 12
www.milduraweekly.com.au 16 Mildura Weekly – 24/01/14 ASK any Mildura green thumb out there about the iconic Sturt’s De- sert Pea, and you will probably get the same answer nine times out of 10... “beautiful flower, but a night- mare to grow.” And while tending to agree with his fellow Mildura gardeners, Australian Inland Botanic Gardens co-ordinator, Brian Cuddy, be- lieves he may have mastered the art of growing the Sturt’s Desert Pea – thanks mainly to a special helping hand. Currently in bloom at the Gar- dens, Brian is encouraging locals to catch a glimpse of the flower while they can. “It’s usually a bloody night- mare to grow,” he said. “This is our third attempt in two years at trying to get the flowers to bloom, and it seems we’ve finally nailed it. “We were lucky enough to come across a bloke from Broken Hill a few years ago who had been studying the Desert Pea for years. “He basically offered to teach us the best way to try and get a suc- cessful plant going, and the result this year has been fantastic. “The trick is to plant the seed at the right time, and ensure that it has access to plenty of water. “Basically the first thing the seed does once it germinates is send out a deep taproot. “We planted these seeds in May last year, and it’s taken close to eight months to bloom.” And with the Australia Day long weekend fast approach- ing, Brian said what better time to come out and view one of the country’s most iconic flowers. “We’ve probably timed it per- fectly with Australia Day this Sun- day,” he said. “There will be quite a few people floating around en- joying a long weekend. “You probably can’t get a more Australian flower than this one, and we are certainly encouraging people to come down and have a look over the weekend.” The Sturt’s Desert Pea (or Swainsona formosa) takes its name from English botanist Isaac Swainson, with the common name paying homage to Charles Sturt – who recorded seeing large quantities of the flower during his exploration of central Australia in 1844. Famous for its distinctive blood-red leaf-like flowers and bulbous black centre, it is one of Australia’s best known wildflow- ers, and is native to the central and north-western parts of the country. Specimens of Sturt’s Desert Pea was first collected by William Dampier, who recorded his first sighting of the flower on August 22, 1699, with those specimens currently housed in the Fielding- Druce Herbarium at Oxford Uni- versity in England. A truly sensational looking flower when in full bloom, Sturt’s Desert Pea has pinnate, grey-green leaves which are arranged spirally on the main axis of the plant, and in two opposite rows on lateral stems. Flowers bloom to about nine centimetres in length, and grow in clusters of around half a dozen. It flowers from spring to sum- mer – particularly after rain – and ranges from a natural pure white in colour to blood scarlet to pink and even pale cream with various- ly coloured central bosses. Gardeners generally have a tough time producing the flower, and it is often referred to as one of the toughest of Australia’s native plants to grow. Well adapted to life as a desert plant, the Desert Pea’s small seeds have a long viability, and can ger- minate after many years. The seeds have a hard coat, which protects them from harsh environments until the next rain- fall, but inhibits germination in normal domestic environments. Growers can overcome this dormancy either by nicking the seed coat away from the ‘eye’ of the seed, by rubbing the seed gen- tly between pieces of sandpaper, or by placing the seed in hot (just off-boiling) water and leaving it to soak overnight. Once germinated, seedlings quickly establish a deep taproot, which is vital for desert survival. This means that if domesti- cally-grown, they should either be planted in their intended final location, transplanted as soon as possible after germination, or grafted as a seedling on to a differ- ent root such as the bladder senna. The Sturt’s Desert Pea also car- ries significance in South Australia, where it was adopted as the floral emblem in 1961. The Australian Inland Botanic Gardens will open from 10am to 4pm on Australia Day, and on Monday, January 27. Mastering the Sturt Desert Pea plants to grow. • Australian Inland Botanic Gardens co-ordinator, Brian Cuddy, believes he’s mastered the difficult art of growing the Sturt Desert Pea. Photo: DARREN SEILER. • M ildura • RedCliffs • M erbein • W ent w orth • Dareton • Robinvale Visit www.milduraweekly.com.au to view our new interactive paper 5 NIGHT HOUSEBOAT HOLIDAY WIN NEW Simply visit www.milduraweekly.com.au and follow the promts to subscribe to our FREE INTERACTIVE DIGITAL PAPER before 28th of February 2014, and you will automatically go in the draw to WIN A 5 NIGHT HOUSEBOAT HOLIDAY !* or Apple iPad as second prize!* 2nd Prize, Apple iPad The pages of the Mildura Weekly can be viewed online with all the local news, information and colour of the printed edition. COURTESY OF Free subscription provides access to the Mildura Weekly many hours before the printed edition is available, via email alerts. Photo galleries Embedded audio Embedded video Special links to advertisers and their offers Plus the digital pages are packed full of additional content such as: milduracentral.com .au CornerDeakinAve&FifteenthSt Fri 20 Dec....................................... Sat21-Sun22Dec Mon 23 Dec.................................... Tues 24 Dec............................. Wed 25 Dec........................................ LOOKING FOR A LAST MINUTE GIFT? , pleasecheckwithindividualretailers.Woolworths isopenfrom 7amuntilmidnight,withtheexception 12closing at10pm andclosedall day25/12.Targetextendedhours willvary,pleasesee theteamfor details. XINGYOPENFROM9AM Distributed FREE every Friday Vol.8 No.8 www. mildu r aw eek ly. com. au Friday, December 20, 2013 Let there be lights Across Sunraysia, the traditional annual Christmas lights display heralds the coming of the festive season. One of those families to make a stunning effort are the Bloomfields from Merbein, including daughter, Belladonna, 5, who needed little prompting from our photographer DARREN SEILER to get into the Christmas spirit. The family’s ‘enlightening’ story is on Page 2. 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Friday January 17 2014 Vol 8 No11
Friday January 31 Vol 8 No 13