Tag Archives: wildflowers

Christmas Bush Collecting In The 1800s

The 2 illustrations presented here are the work of Arthur Collingridge.He was a Painter and Illustrator (1879-1901) of Australian Scenes. Arthur was a founding member of the Royal Art Society of New South Wales, along with brother George Collingridge.

Christmas bush 1

‘Christmas Bushes’, the first image appeared in The Sydney Mail (NSW1871-1912) December 23,1882. Accompanied by a Francis Myer’s poem  Christmas Bushes -A Reverie . . . here is a brief extract:

The dear old Christmas bushes
With rose tips for the time,
When the Christmas bells are ringing
In the summer’s golden prime.
The long blue mist-wreathed vistas
In the evening’s dying gleam,
And the Christmas bushes trailing
Along the shining stream…

Christmas bush 2

‘Christmas Bush’, the second image appeared in The Illustrated Sydney News Christmas Issue on December 25,1886.

Clearly Christmas Bush (Ceratopetalum gummiferum) has always been very popular and ‘is at this season of the year in glorious blossom’.


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Christmas Bush Around Berowra


As the year comes to an end and the weather becomes warm the bush around Berowra comes alive with colour. Berowra has long been known for its amazing floral displays and at this time of the year, with Christmas approaching there are a number of plants which were once harvested by residents and visitors alike to festoon their festive tables and of course decorate their homes.

In the past, Berowra Living History has focussed on the beautiful Christmas Bells which flower among the rocks in the local bush, but this is not the only flower associated with Christmas to attract early flora hunters to Berowra. Christmas Bush, which flowers abundantly with bright red, star shaped flowers is another. The flowers, which begin as white blooms and darken to red as they reach maturity were perfect for Australians who wanted to bring a touch of nature inside as they might once have done with Holly and Evergreen. As a result there was a booming trade in collecting Christmas Bush for sale in the Sydney markets, often in arrangements with bracken fern. Both bracken and Christmas Bush were available in abundance in the Berowra area and many visitors departed with armfuls to take back to their homes.

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Significant Days

New Life  - Rock Orchids at Muogamarra Nature Reserve Photo: A. Lomas

New Life – Rock Orchids at Muogamarra Nature Reserve
Photo: A. Lomas

Palm Sunday has just passed and we are about to celebrate Easter. Many of us give and receive Easter eggs, symbols of new life.

Palm Sunday with its procession of Christ on a donkey is celebrated by groups around the world.

How many of you remember the Palm Sunday street processions in Berowra sometimes even with a donkey? Perhaps you walked in the combined churches procession or joined the group for the open air gathering at the conclusion of the walk. Do share your recollections.

Good Friday 2014 falls exactly a week ahead of ANZAC Day with its commemorative marches and services.

As people worldwide remember the events of the first Good Friday their thoughts may also move to those who gave their lives for others in Gallipoli and so many places. Some may even connect the donkey of Palm Sunday with the sturdy donkeys that bore the wounded in that far away place of pain and bravery.


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Christmas Bells Are Ringing In Berowra

Blandfordia  grandiflora (Christmas Bell)

Blandfordia grandiflora (Christmas Bell)

Christmas is fast approaching and it brings with it much joy, expectation and happiness.

There is always a special excitement about finding these quaint red and yellow-orange bell shaped flowers in the wild. The bells hang down in clusters of 3-10 pivoting on top of a tall straight stem, as they gently nod in the breeze. Their brilliant colours contrast with the surrounding green foliage.

Yes Christmas Bells can still be sighted in the bush around Berowra. They prefer damp, protected positions. They were once a common sight along the roadside between the Central Coast and the Kuring-gai  Chase area. Unfortunately numbers have been reduced by indiscriminate picking. The Berowra area was well known for its magnificent variety of wildflowers including the delightful Christmas Bells. Margaret Preston had a great love for the local Berowra wildflowers as depicted in her art work.

My Grandfather and family lived right on the edge of Kuring-gai Chase up until 1912. I recall he used to tell us how they would collect bunches of Christmas Bells and Christmas Bush from the local bushland

(Kuring-gai Chase) at Christmas time and take them to the City Markets to sell. How times have changed!

Now days, Christmas Bells are a protected native species.  Many native wildflowers, namely Christmas Bells, are grown commercially and exported or sold locally. Today we have National Parks and other areas set aside for the preservation of native fauna and flora eg. Muogamarra Nature Reserve.

Christmas Bells belong to the Family : Liliaceae   The species that can be found locally are –

Blandfordia grandiflora  and  Blandfordia nobilis. With grandiflora the flowers are larger and spread into a bell shape whereas with nobilis flowers are smaller and more cylindrical. Both have 3 petals and 3 sepals.


PHOTOS are taken in the bushland around Berowra and Berowra Heights. Most plants are off the beaten track and in a well-protected position eg. in a rock crevice or next to a sandstone wall.

LOOK but don’t touch!

Rosyln Mort

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Happy 60th Anniversary Berowra Garden Club

Happy Anniversary!

Happy Anniversary!

On Saturday, 4th May, The Berowra Garden Club celebrated their 60th Anniversary, at the Old School Hall, with over 50 members, past and present, attending. All had a wonderful afternoon. Among those present, was our local State Liberal MP Matt Kean. Cecelia Waite created a beautiful large display of colourful flowers on the stage.

The beautiful flower display

The beautiful flower display

The table settings looked great, with white covers and a pretty little floral design on each one.

The guest speaker was Judy Horton from Yates Seeds who gave a most informative talk about our Gardening History, and telling the Yates Family story – from their beginning in 1887 up until last year- that being their 125th Anniversary. Judy captivated her audience with a very interesting and at times humorous talk.

Cutting the cake

Cutting the cake

One of the club`s inaugural members, Mrs. Pamela Gartung, then cut the lovely birthday cake, with the help of the Club`s President, Mr. Les Brown.

A sumptuous high tea followed, and included tasty sandwiches, vol-au-vents, mini quiches, scones with jam & cream, white chocolate mud cupcakes, rocky road, tea and coffee.

Just part of the sumptuous afternoon tea!

Just part of the sumptuous afternoon tea!

Memorabilia on display included old minutes and attendance books, photos and members cards.

Door prize tickets were given out, and some lucky members won a gift of a small potted plant, or a special Yates Commemorative Decorated Seed Tin, which contained 12 pkts of vintage seeds, and a small booklet, with photos, telling the Yates family story, which is well worth knowing.

I was one of those lucky ones!

Merle Davis

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Preston’s Banksia

A local banksia

Artists often require complex and rarefied ‘zones’ or spaces to enact the creative process. At Berowra during the 1930s Margaret Preston, surrounded by a spectacular bushland setting on the Preston’s 11 acre property, found those spaces. By all accounts Margaret would visit, often spending hours at the site of a very old Banksia tree. Here Margaret found the ‘space’ in the presence of this majestic Banksia which lived in a remote part of the Preston’s property, spending hours in quiet contemplation. In fact, in some of Margaret’s most influential woodblock prints of this period, the Banksia tree is depicted as a spiritual presence, lifting and branching upwards against the darkness of a twilight sky. The print titled ‘Banksia Tree’ in relief, produced in 1939, the last year of her stay in Berowra, still remains an awe-inspiring work.


Detail of a banksia tree – an original that once grew
on Prestons property

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Off To Berowra Creek

Off to Berowra Creek

This beautiful image is of a postcard from the collection of lifelong Berowra resident, Peter Huett. Peter has dated the postcard as circa 1922. It shows Billy Wall’s horse drawn carriage ready to set off for Berowra Creek which is now known as Berowra Waters. The sturdy carriage is drawn by three horses. One seems to be a bit camera shy.  Perhaps my eyes are deceiving me…  Are there only two horses?

The lead horse is probably a wailer, the agile breed used by mounted soldiers while at the rear are draught horses!?!

The enterprising Billy Wall met passengers at Berowra Station. Here they are posing on the eastern side of the old station. Note the seating arrangement of the passengers. Yes, some are facing each other. An informant, the late Betty Pontey of the Berowra Pontey Bakery family of old, told me that such seating arrangements led to these carriages being called Sociables.

There must indeed have been much excited chatter as families and friends took the weekend or summer holiday trip down to the popular beauty spot. There they could have refreshments and  paddle, fish or swim in the magical, clear waters after the winding descent through rugged bushland bright with abundant wildflowers.


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