Home to ancient wonders
Magnificent relics from the super-continent of Gondwana, banksias are uniquely Australian. Of the 76 species recorded nationally 62 are endemic to Western Australia, making this genus a justifiable source of local pride.
The 2800 square metre Banksia Garden not only houses the entire State collection but also celebrates these sculptural plants in artworks by Philippa O'Brien.
To reflect the high value people place on banksias she chose a valuable material - marble - to create two sand-blasted, acid-washed mosaic pavements.
One depicts the five species which grow in the Kings Park bushland - acorn banksia (Banksia prionotes), bull banksia (B. grandis), holly-leaved banksia (B. ilicifolia), narrow-leaved banksia (B. attenuata) and firewood or Menzies' banksia (B. menziesii) whose flower is the central motif in the Botanic Gardens and Parks Authority (BGPA) logo.
Few plants could be portrayed in such a solid medium as marble, but the bold shapes of banksia flowers and foliage respond beautifully to this representation. The local species pavement also features some of the native pollinators - pygmy possum, wattle bird and western spinebill.
The second pavement, which demonstrates the classical technique of infilling with tiny squares or tesserae, shows the prostrate banksias - (B. goodii, B. blechnifolia, B. petiolaris, B. repens, B. chamaephyton and B. gardeneri var. gardneri).
On the mosaic pavements you can rest on seats made of firewood banksia timber salvaged from a tree blown down by a storm, with wrought-iron backs based on the amazing zig-zag leaves of the bull banksia.
One species whose existence in the wild is threatened by dieback is feather-leaved banksia (B. brownii). Species such as matchstick banksia and red swamp banksia (B. cuneata and B. occidentalis respectively) are at risk through habitat loss.
The BGPA team has combined cutting edge research with practical horticulture to protect the banksias against dieback (Phytophthora cinnamomi). Careful application of phosphoric acid and appropriate soil and water management have been found to increase plant tolerance.