A snapshot of the Western Australian flora
The branches of ‘Silver Princess' weeping daintily over massive granite boulders are your first visual cue to a short floral journey which encapsulates Western Australia's most iconic plants.
While many people have the opportunity to explore to the furthest reaches of the Botanic Garden, we have recognised that other visitors for various reasons need a compact version.
Consequently in 2000, the Entry on Fraser Avenue was redesigned to concertina the Botanic Garden experience into a shortened frame for visitors whose mobility prevents then venturing far or who, being on a whirlwind tour, have only limited time.
This meant creating a floral snapshot of the whole State within roughly a 10 minute stroll each way. When deciding what to include we were spoiled for choice, given that the Botanic Garden holds 2000 of Western Australia's 12,000 plus plant species!
Look out for the above mentioned little gum tree whose botanical name is Eucalyptus caesia subsp. magna. Depending on season it bears rose-pink flowers or palest grey seed capsules - the latter accounting for the commercial name ‘Silver Princess'.
In cultivation this beautiful tree is widely grown in gardens, parks and streets throughout Perth, yet in the wild it is relatively rare, occurring in just a few granite outcrops. It is a star of the South-west, one of the world's biodiversity hotspots.
Beneath ‘Silver Princess' you will see Western Australia's floral emblem, the red and green kangaroo paw (Anigozanthus manglesii), represented in a marble mosaic created by artists Rudolph Verschoor and Jacqueline Pinnock. In September this part of the Entry is the subject of intensive planting to honour the annual Kings Park Festival.
Other spectacular south-western species near the gateway to the Entry walk include fuchsia grevillea (Grevillea bipinnatifida), scarlet honey-myrtle (Melaleuca fulgens), Thryptomene hyporhytis, grey cottonhead (Conostylis candicans), bull banksia (Banksia grandis) and black kangaroo paw (Macropidia fuliginosa).
Macropidia is a single species genus whereas all other kangaroo paws belong to the genus Anigozanthus, several of which appear in the Entry including ‘Kings Park Federation Flame', a stunning orange variety commercially developed by the Botanic Gardens and Parks Authority and released for the 2001 Centenary of Federation.
Moving on, the Entry takes visitors to the Mallee region where floral representatives include jingymia mallee (Eucalyptus synandra) and granite bottlebrush (Melaleuca ellpitica).
Next is the Mulga region with, among many other species, currant bush (Scaevola spinescens) and varying forms of the Acacia aneura complex ranging from weeping to erect and from fine-leaved to coarse-leaved.
Desert flora follows, with highlights including grasses of the Spinifex genus, flame grevillea (Grevillea eriostachya), old man saltbush (Atriplex nummularia) and attractive small gum trees such as Kingsmill's mallee (Eucalyptus kingsmillii), thick-leaved mallee (E. pachyphylla), coolibah (E. victrix) and large-fruited mallee (E. youngiana).
The final glory of the Entry is a glimpse of the Kimberley flora including green birdflower (Crotalaria cunninghamii) and gandjandjal (Pandanus aquaticus). From December to April the Kimberley display is enhanced by northern annuals and grasses.
Most eye-catching on the vertical plane are the boabs (Adansonia gregorii) whose bottle-shaped trunks stand tall against the Swan River backdrop. These specimens were salvaged from land scheduled to be cleared for mining, and their relocation from the remote north-west was a massive project.
For visitors who do not have the time or means to walk further, the Entry captures the essence of the Western Australian flora and demonstrates its incredible diversity.
For those who have the leisure and ability to go further, the Entry is an introduction to what will unfold as they make their way through 17 hectares of Botanic Garden primarily devoted to the celebration and conservation of Western Australian plants, most of which are found nowhere else in the world.
Interpretive signage is located at frequent intervals throughout the Entry and the rest of the Botanic Garden.