The uniqueness of Australia’s vegetation is a world-wide phenomenon. Nowhere is more spectacular than Western Australia. Here, in the Southwest corner, the rich variety of landforms – mountainous granite outcrops, flat sand plains, rolling woodlands and forests and coastal swamps – has ensured a rich diversity. Over 9,000 unique plant species have developed in this ancient landscape, isolated by deserts to the East and oceans to the North, West and South. This has brought about a region known as one of the four major ‘hot spots’ on planet earth.

Charnigup Farm is ideally placed as a base from which to view these wonders of nature. The transformation in spring of the predominantly grey-green vegetation into a glorious garden of colour is miraculous to behold. We grow several species of native flora in the garden as well as naturally in fenced off remnants of bushland on the farm. Over the years we have explored the surrounding region’s roadsides and reserves, developing an inventory of favourite ‘spots’ to view a range of different plants. We have our own family rating term for exceptional areas – ‘ooh-aah! country’! We even have our resident botanical expert. Our daughter, Ellen, is a well established botanist and botanical illustrator. She lives locally, and is a fund of enthusiastic floral knowledge.

The clearing of land and the encroachment of human population over time, coupled with recent drought-affected years, have all contributed to the dwindling of flora habitats. Our natural ‘jewel’ is being threatened! By encouraging people to become involved in – even just by looking at – our beautiful flowers helps to validate flora conservation as a top priority.

BEST TIME FOR WILDFLOWERS; July to November are the best months to view wildflowers in our area, although the bush is never without blooms of some sort. (For example, many Banksia species tend to flower from January to April.) There are many tours operating during the peak season, but, personally, we find that self-exploration with a good reference book is just as rewarding and exciting. However, a word of warning. The picking of wildflowers is strictly prohibited, and heavy fines imposed if you are caught. Bring your camera or your sketch book with you!

Thanks to Ellen Hickman for providing some of these photographs