Everlasting Love

How to add a pop of colour to boost your backyard diversity!

By Mel Logozzo @rewildingsuburbia

Every winter, thousands of people flock to the Northwest to witness our seemingly barren landscapes and rugged red terrain explode into a riot of colour as countless species of annual wildflowers burst into bloom, creating a spectacular technicolour carpet that is full of life and wonderment.

Roebuckiella ciliocarpa – Mullewa
Cephalipterum drummindii – Coalseam NP
Lawrencella rosea & Myriocephalus guerinae– Coalseam NP

These wildflowers play a crucial role in providing resources for insects as they emerge from diapause, a state of dormancy that suspends growth development over the cooler months. As the new generations of native bees, wasps, beetles, butterflies and other wildlife emerge they rely on the nectar and pollen from these blooms to replenish their energy. These wildflowers are a lifeline that allow them to carry out their ecological roles and contribute to ecosystem health, providing small birds, native rodents and amphibians with shelter and food sources.

Lasioglossum sp. On Waitzia acuminata
Hoverfly on Schoenia cassiniana
Cranefly on Waitzia suaveolans

With more annual wildflower seed varieties becoming commercially available, why not recreate this late winter/early spring ecological lifeline at home? For maximum effect, your verge could be the perfect place to create a biodiverse haven of your own – otherwise consider allocating a space in your front/backyard, and if garden space is an issue, most annual wildflowers can also be grown in pots.

Rhodanthe chlorocephala spp rosea
Timing

In Perth, Autumm is the ideal time to sow seed for late winter – early spring blooms providing there is consecutive rain and a decline in temperature. Optimal sowing times typically fall at the end of May and early June. Consider staggered plantings throughout autumn to prolong the flowering season.

Location 

Select a full sun location for optimal growth, large blooms and dense plants. While partial shade is tolerable, it often results in smaller plants with single stems.

Soil

Perth’s naturally loose sandy soils are perfectly suited for wildflowers, requiring minimal to no amendments. Avoid high-nitrogen soils, as they may stimulate excessive green growth, compromising plant integrity. Ensure the chosen site is free draining and is cleared of weeds, mulch, and debris.

Sowing

Seeds can be sown directly or cultivated as seedlings. For direct sowing, evenly distribute seeds across the surface, lightly rake for uniform coverage, and water in.

Maintain moisture until germination, typically occurring within two weeks. Alternatively, for seedling cultivation or growing in pots, use a native potting mix or old potting mix, depleted of nutrients, again sprinkling seeds lightly on the surface and ensuring consistent moisture until germination.

Seedlings can be transferred once their roost systems have filled their growing containers.

*Tip – Use seasonal rain to your advantage and sow seeds when rain is imminent.

Feeding and Watering

Small seedlings may benefit from a weak liquid feed. Winter rains usually provide enough water throughout the growing season,however in the event of a dry spell or if growing in pots, hand watering may be required.

Pests

Birds and rodents may eat seed. Snails and slugs are quite fond of tender seedlings. From mid to late winter, caterpillars will begin to appear (particularly those of the black and white tiger moth). Combat these with multiple sowings or raising seedlings to plant out.

Embrace these challenges as opportunities to enhance backyard biodiversity.

Saving Seed

Once your blooms are done and the flower heads completely dried out, you can collect your seed or allow them to fall and self-sow naturally.

Rhodanthe manglesii

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Lisa Edwards

Founding Director

Lisa Bio

Our Founder

Lisa is an Environmental Scientist who has worked for 20 years primarily managing Threatened Species and Communities in Western Australia. She has also helped manage the planting of 4.2 million trees in WA’s Wheatbelt to help tackle salinity, biodiversity loss and climate change. 

Her time at Western Power gave her a thorough understanding of our amazing biodiversity and urban ecology and it also inspired her to find ways to support what we have and help halt the decline.

Lisa started WA Loves Nature, a not for profit organisation, with Leanne Salter Jones, so that they could showcase our amazing urban biodiversity and inspire and educate people on ways to support it. To achieve this they developed urban nature trails that show existing biodiversity as well as highlight it through the use of street art, murals and sculpture. The trails are bought to life with the WA Loves Nature’s App that features augmented reality, videos and sound.

Their mission is to have a nature trail in all West Australian metropolitan areas and country towns.

Lisa’s key skills include:

  • Urban ecology and its management
  • Threatened species management
  • Stakeholder engagement
  • Community education
  • Communication