With the arrival of crisp winter days, now is the perfect time to explore the tall timbers nestled within the Western Australian Botanic Garden.
Tall Timbers and Acacia Steps
Beginning your journey at the Water Garden, follow the path along to the cool, quiet Marri Woodland. It's a unique part of the garden and an ideal place to sit back and enjoy some quality nature time.
With its soft pathway emulating a forest floor, dense shady canopy and calming mood, it's easy to feel far away from city life. Here, you can pause and immerse yourself in the closest thing to a forest environment in the Perth metropolitan area.
While you're here, don't forget to look up! Admire the towering trunks, leafy ceiling and intimate space – in contrast to the expansive style of much of the WA Botanic Garden, this is a secluded space and a haven for birds.
One of the least formal areas of the WA Botanic Garden, the Marri Woodland is predominantly home to its namesake tree (Marri – Corymbia calophylla), which is known for its 'honky nuts' and its traditional medicinal properties.
The red Marri gum has antiseptic qualities and was traditionally used by the Nyoongar people to plaster wounds to prevent bleeding, infection and flies. Small quantities of the dried gum were eaten or dissolved in water to cure stomach conditions, while the beautiful Marri blossoms were used to make a delectable honey-sweet drink.
After staying awhile in the woodland, make your way past the Stirling Ranges flora displays to the Acacia Steps; a stunning stairway with embedded artwork by Stuart Green.
Created in 1998, the granite staircase design takes its inspiration from a dry creek bed, a common feature in arid landscapes, the native habitat of many Acacia species.
Commonly known as Wattle, there are more than 1200 Acacia species, with over 560 in Western Australia alone. It's no surprise then, that they are the most common genus of plants in Australia – and a familiar one – the Wattle is the Australian floral emblem.
The Acacia Steps feature a beautiful mosaic artwork, handcrafted from marble and Pilbara tiger-eye stone. The intricate work depicts six Acacia species, most of which are growing in the adjacent garden beds. A pictorial view of the Acacia's evolutionary development from primitive at the bottom step to highly evolved at the top of the staircase, the mosaics illustrate changing foliage shapes, seeds and flowers.
Over the years, Acacias have adapted to their environments and have developed different foliage shapes, in response to their often drought-stricken native habitat. On display, there is a range of different forms; from the flat leaf Acacia glaucoptera to the fine foliage of the Zig-Zag Wattle, Acacia merinthophora.
After admiring this iconic group of Australian plants, make your way back down through the Water Garden. Or if you prefer, you could stop to rest awhile on the rolling lawns near the Pioneer Women's Memorial.
Things to do and find
- Find a park bench and take some time to enjoy the quiet ambience of the Marri Woodland. You can get completely lost in the environment and feel a million miles away.
- Listen – what can you hear? Birds calling out to each other? Perhaps there is a soft breeze, or a bobtail rustling in the leaves.
- Try to spot an endangered Carnaby's Black Cockatoo. These endangered black-feathered birds have distinctive white patches on their cheeks.
- Look out for the Nuytsia floribunda, found near the Acacia Steps. A hemi-parasite, it is known as the Western Australian Christmas Tree.
Explore this and other special areas of the Western Australian Botanic Garden with us as we celebrate its 50th anniversary in 2015. Look out for a new 'Anniversary Adventure' each month.
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