Waratah love

White waratah, Royal Tasmanian Botanical Gardens
White waratah in flower at the Royal Tasmanian Botanical Gardens.

Some Australian flowers are better than others. Fact.

I’m partial to the protea family, which produces iconic gaudy flowers like banksias and grevilleas, and last year I planted one of the most iconic of the bunch: a waratah.

Because my plant only has the one flower this year, I’m treating it like a first-born child. I’m there with my camera, hovering over every stage of its development: budding; opening; unfurling and then losing the sheaths over its stamens. These photos span about six weeks.

Waratah bud (Sep 8)
Waratah bud (Sep 12)
Bud opening (Sep 16)
Bracts open (Sep 21)
Waratah taking shape (Sep 25)
Full bloom (Oct 3)
Full bloom (Oct 8)
Full bloom (Oct 14)

My plant is a ‘Shady Lady’ hybrid, which is meant to be more resilient than true-to-type waratahs. It lives in a shady, damp corner of our yard on a slightly raised mound (all plants in that family like good drainage) with morning sun. Waratahs can be fussy about their conditions, but if they’re happy and settled, they can regrow completely from the ground up — an adaptation that arose from bushfires.

waratah size

They’re big flowers, too.

'Shady Lady' waratah bud stages

I dearly hope this waratah stays happy and produces more flowers year after year.

Further reading:
Fact Sheet: Waratahs (Gardening Australia)
How to grow waratahs (Homelife)

 

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