Plants have no shame. Royal National Park, Audley, NSW, Australia

A short drive south of Sydney will take you to the second oldest (1879) national park in the world, the Royal National Park.  The park basically consists of two types of scenery, coastal cliffs and heathland.  Most of the plant in the Park salt resistant hearty, prickly little things that somehow managed to eke a living out of probably some of the poorest soil in the world. Come to think of it, that’s probably why it was declared a national park, because it’s absolutely useless for farming.

Since the weather finally cleared up on Sunday, my wife and I went for a drive and a walk in the Royal National Park.

We’ve had a few rain falls over the last couple of weeks and although it’s still technically winter nobody seems to have told the plant world, because nearly everything with roots in the soil is blooming. 

A regular plant orgy

As you look across the heath it is though one is looking at a slow motion corybantic dithyramb of plants in heat presenting themselves to all comers. With no brains to experience any shame, the plants wantonly went about their reproductive business, oblivious to rest of the world. I’ve always thought it strangely ironic that we humans present the torn off sex organs of plants to the targets of our desires. Not very a subtle hint and a rather callously barbaric practice when you actually think about it.

Most of the heath plants have tiny little spiky leaves to preserve moisture and their flowers tend to be quite small.  Around about the size of a little fingernail.

Most of the flowers are very small

Of course, there are always exceptions to the rule,

The Gymea Lily

and in the Royal National Park it is the Gymea Lily (Doryanthes excelsa) which send flower spikes up to 6 m high (about 18 ft).

Doryanthes excelsa

After witnessing all of the botanical fecundity last weekend, my wife and I intend to follow nature’s lead and begin planting out our vegetable garden, next weekend. This year we will be trying out some heritage tomatoes (old styles that are no longer commercially own) that have been bred for taste rather than toughness for transportation such as the ones available in supermarkets.

8 thoughts on “Plants have no shame. Royal National Park, Audley, NSW, Australia”

  1. What!? Do pictures of dahlias?? Oh, my! I love this post. We are at opposite ends of the seasonal chart so my garden is overgrown and a little bit exhausted. You are just starting yours. But, these flowers in your National Park are amazing! It is so surprising to me that with such harsh conditions they are so elaborate and detailed and patterned so widely different from one another. The look like some of the exotic ocean flora and fauna I’ve seen some IMAX movies that reveal what lives beneath the ocean. And, you sly humor about the really, really TALL ones! Only one of my cannas plants, (I have three) has just NOW produced a bloom and it lasts only for a few days! It has taken months for it to bloom and then in several days it fades! Ah.

  2. Pat

    Sorry, no pictures of dahlias, the dingos ate them. Our plants are strange, no wonder Joseph Banks had such a productive time here.


    Thanks! To be honest though, I was only recording what was in front of me.

  3. Wow, 18 feet high? What is the evolutionary message there? “I really, really need the flying creatures to spread and fertilize for me before land-borne animals test their teeth on my blooms.”

  4. I’ll echo Pat. It was strange hearing you write about being on the beginning end of a gardening season.

    Anybody care for some zucchini. We’ve got more than our share . . .

  5. Haha! I’m glad you were only photographing what was in front of you. I am having a lot of problems with my back photography these days.

    Very nice shots. Could use a little vignetting. Would love to be able to shoot portraiture with these textures behind… me, I guess?

    note: Must work on my yoga abilities.

  6. Brooks

    I think another reason why the flower spikes go so high is to raise them up higher than the surrounding trees so birds and possibly bats can spot them easily.


    That’s the great thing about the internet, it covers the whole world and one has daily contact with people in not only different countries but also different seasons. You can always make zucchini cake with your surplus zucchinis.


    A very Planetross response.

  7. Great nature – great photos :)
    As (almost) everybody before me noticed, it was a bit strange to read you’re just planting your garden, while we, on the other part of the globe are about to enjoy the fruits of the fall. My favourite time of year.

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