Summers Gone and No Christmas Bells to be Found

Summers Gone and No Christmas Bells to be Found

Christmas BellsIt started out as the ‘Christmas Bell mission’ but quickly turned into; ‘I will look from the trail.’ Snakes did scare me off, for some reason over the past six months I’ve encounter quite a few, some when I have wandered off… but others I’ve nearly stepped on.
However on a serious note I would have liked to have seen some Christmas Bells (Blandfordia grandiflora ) somewhere…  I’d hoped ‘somewhere’ in this beautiful location there was a patch of Christmas Bells growing; perhaps hidden away from public view…let’s hope so.

Next summer I will look for more eyes to help.

Every time I read this article in the about how prolific these flowers were along the South Coast Road between Miami and Burleigh Heads, (now the Gold Coast Hwy) it makes me feel sad. Sad that we have lost a piece of the original Gold Coast its wild flowers.
How popular were Christmas Bells in the 1920’s read the News Article January 1928 Sunday Mail (Brisbane) source -trove.nla.gov.au

Where did I go in search for Christmas Bells?

I had a number of locations in mind, but first I did a quick check to see what conditions these flower preferred and it was surprisingly quite diverse;

  • Swampland  
  • Heathland
  • Hillsides
  • Rocky terrain

In addition in the southern states they have been found on mountains. One of my strategies was to contact a few native nurseries; I checked a few when I was down south, not in Queensland.  One thing I did uncovered was that there was a push a few years ago to grow them commercially and export to the overseas market.

The flowers last for a considerable time, but unfortunately the plant is slow growing and very finicky and if the conditions aren’t right will not thrive.
Another obstacle was weeds and this was probably the biggest, weeds can quickly grow around the plant and inhibit its growth.

Where did I search for Christmas Bells?

After reading all the information, I wasn’t hopeful particularly the part about the weeds, I know that this is a big problem Australia wide, especially impacting on native plants, the weeds and grasses can choked them out.

Federation Walk

First on my list was Federation Walk at the Spit there is a lot of heathland and sections of swampland. But wandering off the trail wasn’t something I was prepared to do, and none of my companions would either, especially after nearly stepping on a huge coastal python on the trail. This is testament that there is plenty of wildlife in this area, this python was big.

Grasslands on Federation Walk the Spit
I walked along the trail and stared at the open grasslands till I started to imagine I saw a patch or glimpses of red bells, and I did but it was the common weed ( Euphorbia Cyathophora) Desert Poinsettia/Fire on the mountains flower a native of South and North America.
I wandered off the trail a few times, mainly on the beach side where Christmas Bells could be found behind the dunes.

I wasn’t hopeful the early settlers changed the south coast landscape by clearing it for farmland; this location and South Stradbroke Island were both used for cattle. In addition over the years bush fires have devastated section of this area.

Burleigh Headland

Coastal Grasslands

I walked Burleigh Headland National Park along the ocean circuit and scanned the coastal heathland along the eastern side for any pockets of red. I walked this trail a number of times just in case any could be found. Now if I did see a suspected plant would I have climbed up to check it out? A good question and one I don’t have to answer because none were found.

Tallebudgera Conservation Park

A number of times I walked the whole circuit of this conservation park, Burleigh Heads side and Palm Beach side of Tallebudgera Creek and the reality is that the weed infestation was so bad that even if this was their ideal environment survival would be unlikely.

Schuster Park

There is an isolated pocket of land at Schuster Park or what I call Schuster Island; it’s not an island but a narrow section of land with Tallebudgera Creek almost surrounding it except for a small strip of land at the entrance where the gate is.  This area is quite diverse with She Oaks on the southern side and the northern side light forest, with mangroves and heathland.
The location had some potential and was on my list but unfortunately I never had the chance to check it out.

Elanora Wetlands

These wetlands are directly opposite the top end of Schuster Park and surrounded by the upper reaches of Tallebudgera Creek. This was another spot worth investigation. Much of the same general landscape, mangroves and some open heathland found at Schuster Park. But alas no results…

With autumn upon us it’s time to plan for next summer, maybe this December with some better planning; I might find some Christmas Bells somewhere on the Gold Coast, here’s hoping…

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