The Resilient Hoya

After the Boxing Day bushfires of 2001 visited our Blue Mountains property, the extent of the damage done to the flora was clearly evident. You felt like you had landed on the moon.

Many plants, taken for granted over the years, were now valued either because of their complete obliteration or their irreparable damage. One such plant was our hoya. Given to us by my mother-in-law, this potted, tropical, evergreen plant mostly took care of itself. It hung from a branch with its vines dangling from the pot. These vines were covered with green and yellow leaves. They easily caught any breeze, swaying the hoya back and forth as if it danced to a choice melody that only it could hear.

Now our hoya was gone… scorched by the intensity of the bushfire’s heat. Like most of the neighbouring pots that displayed our orchids each year, the pot where our hoya had nested now seemed empty except for its dirt. Some of the pots had even partly melted.

During the cleanup the hoya pot was put aside and occasionally watered, without any real expectation of regrowth. But that is exactly what occurred and the hoya began growing back to its original self. Its resurrection was an encouraging sign of things to come.

When the hoya’s leafy vines started to wander from the pot, the plant was repotted and hung from another tree. Over the intervening years since the bushfires this tree never fully recovered. Earlier this year it toppled to the ground, crushing the hoya. I repotted the plant and this time brought it closer to the house, hanging it on a maple branch. Again the hoya quickly bounced back to a healthy state. As if to advertise the fact, it blossomed for the first time in its life. The beautiful, semi-spherical flower it produced comprised a cluster of small, delicate, star-shaped flowers, splashed in pink with a dab of darker pink at their centres.

Working on the regeneration of our bushland garden, despite the time and effort expended, has been very satisfying and rewarding. The resilience shown by plants like our hoya, our orchids and the many native plants that cover our property definitely raises one’s spirit.

The Wattle

The wattles are back and blooming on our bushland block. Although the wattle can apparently bloom at any time of the year, its blossoms are usually associated with the coming of spring.

The wattle blossoms in our back yard have definitely arrived earlier than last year. The fires of 2001 savagely destroyed most of the bushland behind our home. Although all of the wattles on our block disappeared, they have quietly fought their way back through the regeneration of their seeds. Since the fires, the long periods of dry weather obviously slowed their return. It is great to see that they are again establishing themselves in abundance and in a variety of types. The subtle, unique fragrance of the wattle blossom definitely invigorates the soul.

The golden wattle is Australia’s national floral emblem. The many different varieties of wattle have inspired many a poet to wax lyrical. I have been reading John Mathew’s 1902 collection of poems entitled Australian Echoes. He included a poem on the wattle. For him, their springtime arrival inspired not only hope and happiness but brought a welcome beauty to the landscape.

“Thy downy pellets bursting out
Begirt with filigree,
With golden velvet wrap about
And glorify the tree.”

(Now why does the second line of this verse remind me of our national anthem? Oh, yes … “girt by sea”!)

Around thirty years ago I wrote a song about the wattle. During the years I was teaching, I often taught it to my students with the coming of the warmer months.
When I work in my garden I often find myself singing it.