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  • 25 Jun 2019 9:02 PM | enewsletter Editor (Administrator)

    Dictionary of Botanical Names by the late Don Perrin is an updated edition of Don's earlier book on the derivations of Australian plant names, now with 4,500 entries.

    As an early member of the Society for Growing Australian Plants (now Australian Plants Society), Don was involved in setting up the Glenbrook Native Plant Reserve in the Blue Mountains and was a founder of the Redcliffe Botanic Gardens in Queensland. 

    Cover of Dictionary of Botanical Names

    The following review appeared in the APS South Australia journal, February 2019.

    This is a book which explains the meanings of botanical names at the genus and species levels. The complex Latin and Greek names that are often used to name plants are more likely to be remembered when you can use this book to learn about their derivation or who they were named after. For example, Acacia penninervis has leaves with feather-like veins. Pinna is “feather” and nervis is “vein” in Latin. The author has also drawn excellent illustrations of many of the terms used in his explanations.

    This book would be particularly useful to guides at botanic gardens or to park rangers who are often asked by the public to identify plants. The temptation to use a common name would be less if the guide or ranger could tell a story about the botanical naming.

    Knowing the derivation of botanical names would also be useful to plant enthusiasts who were in the final stages of identifying a plant. This book is a must for those interested in identifying plants and for the libraries of APS groups and educational institutions.

    The following is an extract from the journal Native Plants Queensland, March 2019, by Jan Sked who wrote the foreword in the book.

    This updated edition is now produced in A5 size and consists of 222 pages of fascinating information about the meaning and derivation of our Australian plant names. The introductory chapters, written in Don’s inimitable style, are a joy to read. Then there are 197 pages of definitions, which include about 1,000 new ones, making a total of about 4,500. Don’s excellent line drawings have been retained and they are supplemented with some sheets of colour illustrations as well.

    Enquiries and sales

    RRP $29.95 plus postage and handling

    Email Tracey Perrin at

    Ph 0421 465 464

    Facebook: Dictionary of Botanical Names

  • 25 Jun 2019 8:30 PM | enewsletter Editor (Administrator)

    This story is based on Ralph Cartwright's presentation to APS Sutherland Group in June 2019 on botanical trivia of Hawaii with photos from his trip and text compiled from various sources.

    Hawaii's volcanic origins

    The American state of Hawai`i includes 137 islands, the largest known as Hawai`i. Of the 8 main islands, 7 are inhabited. They lie in the middle of the North Pacific, about 3,000 km from the nearest continent. The islands are the tops of massive volcanoes, the bulk of which lie below the sea surface.

    This chain of islands developed as the Pacific Plate moved slowly northwestward over a hotspot in the Earth’s mantle at a rate of 50 km per million years. The southeast island is still volcanically active, whereas the islands on the northwest end of the archipelago are older and typically smaller, due to longer exposure to erosion. The only active volcanism in the last 200 years has been on Hawaiʻi, where Kilauea has been erupting nearly continuously since 1983. The Hawaiian volcanoes are composed almost entirely of the igneous rock basalt. Due to the volcanic activity, the soil is quite fertile. 

    A mix of endemic and introduced species

    Around 95% of plants found on the islands now are thought to be non-indigenous. Since human settlement first by Polynesians and later by early European explorers, food plants and animals have been introduced. These included species such as rats and pigs that have preyed on native birds and invertebrates that initially evolved in the absence of such predators. The arrival of European settlers had a more significant impact, with the promotion of large-scale single-species export agriculture such as sugar cane, pineapples and later livestock grazing.


    Introduced Grevillea species with roadside grasses

    Endemic species

    Vaccinium reticulatum

    Vaccinium reticulatum

    Vaccinium reticulatum, or ʻōhelo ʻai, is one endemic plant. It is common around Kilauea at an altitude of around 1,200 m. It is a member of the Ericaceae family, found most commonly in acid and infertile growing conditions. It grows on lava flows and freshly disturbed volcanic ash. Adaptations to volcanic activity include the ability to survive ash falls.

    Vaccinium reticulatum 

    It is a shrub usually 0.1–1.3 m tall, with evergreen leaves, spirally arranged, leathery, oval, 1–3 cm long, red when freshly emerging, then green or green with reddish patches. The flowers are bell-shaped, 8–12 cm long, variable in color, usually red, but can be yellow or pink. The fruit is an edible berry 8–14 mm diameter, ranging in colour from blue or purple to red, orange or yellow. The berries are an important food source for the nēnē, a goose which is the official state bird and endemic to the islands, and the seeds are dispersed in the birds’ droppings.


    Metrosideros polymorpha

    Metrosideros polymorpha

    Metrosideros polymorpha, ʻōhiʻa lehua, is another endemic plant found at Kilauea. A flowering evergreen in the Myrtaceae family, it is related to our bottlebrushes. It is a pioneer plant and grows directly on basalt around the lava fields where it is found as a small shrub, but in favourable positions, it can grow to 25 m. Most of the ones seen around Kilauea were up to 3 m tall. It is still abundant, but many introduced plants including Grevillea robusta compete with it and a newly identified fungus is also causing sudden death syndrome in some forested areas.

     Metrosideros polymorpha

    The lehua has adapted to periodic exposure to the harmful volcanic gases seeping up from below the earth by being able to quickly close the stomata in their fleshy leaves. When the wind changes, the pores re-open allowing the leaf to breath again.

    Argyroxiphium sandwicense

    Argyroxiphium sandwicense

    Mauna Kea is the highest volcano in Hawaii at over 4,000 m. Near a small reserve next to the visitors centre was Argyroxiphium sandwicense, the Hawai'i silversword. This is a slow growing plant which can take up to 40 years to send up a single 2 m flower spike and they only flower once. There are reputed to be only 40 plants left in the wild. They grow at high altitudes, on poor soils and are subjected to extremes of weather.

    Like the native goose, it has been decimated by introduced animals, in this case sheep and goats who browsed it almost to the verge of extinction. Most of the feral animals on the mountain have now been eradicated and efforts are being made to revegetate areas like the reserve. The leaves are covered with layers of silvery hairs which reflect sunlight and help conserve moisture.

    Samanea saman

    Samanea saman

    Samanea saman, MonkeyPod Tree, is widespread throughout the islands and is yet another introduced species of rainforest tree, this one native to Central and South America. It is thought it was introduced by ranchers as a shade tree for their beef cattle, who also ate the prolific seed pods when they fell from the tree. It is a fast growing tree, with a wide canopy. In Venezuela, a 20 m specimen is recorded as having a crown diameter of around 60 m and a trunk of nearly 3 m diameter. It is an easily worked, and durable hardwood, popular with wood carvers and furniture makers. In tropical India, the common name is rain tree. Because of the massive crown, cicadas can live in great numbers, feasting on the leaves and their honeydew-like discharge can seem like rain.


    Invasive species from Australia and beyond

    The Hawaii Invasive Species Council website lists 75 species for which they have funding for prevention, control or research, including many plants familiar to Australia. These include a senna, the Australian tree fern and Grevillea robusta which has been deliberately planted since the 1800s as a shade tree for coffee and tea but is now one of Hawaii's most invasive horticultural plants and now categorised as a “do not plant” species. Other items on the list include pampas grass, gorse, lantana and of course feral deer, feral cats and fire ants.


    Eleocarpus species

    On the island of Kuai’I is a Hindu temple. Next to it is a peaceful grove of some Rudraksha trees, Eleocarpus ganitrus. They are native to the North Indian plains to the foothills of the Himalayas. This grove of 108 trees was planted in 1984 and the trees are now around 15-20 m high. Australian Eleocarpus species include the blueberry ash and the quandong, both with blue fruit, like the Rudraksha.

     The legend is that the God Siva looked down upon the Earth and, seeing the sorrowful plight we humans had created for ourselves, wept a single tear. The tear fell from His cheek and upon hitting the ground created the first Rudraksha tree (the word rudraksha means the tear of Siva). Hindus wear beads made from the fruits for protection. 

    Pennisetum purpureum

    Another introduced plant originally brought in as cattle feed from Africa is Pennisetum purpureum – Elephant or Guinea grass. Unfortunately, it is extremely invasive and has taken over the whole island as it can grow to 2 m. Another introduced African grass, originally ornamental, is fountain grass, which while being quite attractive when seen growing on otherwise bare lava fields, is also fire-adapted. It can sustain fires that spread quickly into adjacent areas and its dried leaves increase the intensity of wildfires. After a fire it sprouts faster than native plants.

  • 24 Jun 2019 9:13 AM | HEATHER MILES (Administrator)

    Menai Wildflower Group, one of our local groups, is hosting a talk on Saturday, 13 July at the Illawong Rural Fire Station. The speaker is Ken Griffiths - some of his work can be found here. Come along and find out about the diverse local bushland of the Royal National Park. Everyone welcome. 

  • 23 Jun 2019 9:12 PM | enewsletter Editor (Administrator)

    What do Acacia 'Winter Gold', Acacia 'Winter Flame', the Correa 'Winter Bells' collection, Eremophila 'Winter Gold', Grevillea 'Winter Delight', Philotheca 'Winter Rouge' and Syzygium 'Winter Lights' have in common? Yes, they are all named for a winter feature – either their flowers or foliage.

    Some plants do seem to flower all year round, like some of the larger grevilleas and groundcovers like scaevolas and brachyscomes. But with fewer plants flowering in the cooler months and gardeners looking for a burst of colour, it should be a more popular marketing name for cultivars. 

    Winter flowers

    Acacia 'Winter Gold'

    Acacia amblygona 'Winter Gold'

    Photo: Plant profile at

    Acacia amblygona 'Winter Gold' is a prostrate form of Acacia amblygona which is a shrub up to 1.5 m high. The hardy groundcover is spectacular in golden flower. Propagate by cutting to retain the prostrate habit. Many Acacia species flower in winter with cream, lemon, yellow or gold flowers.

    More information: and

    Correa 'Winter Bells' collection

    Bywong Nursery has a collection of correas named Winter Bells which flower in winter in a range of colours from salmon, pink, red and more. Cultivars include 'Annabell' (soft pink), 'Canberra Bells' (red) and 'Catie Bec' (pale pink).

    Another one is Correa glabra 'Winter Glow' with white flowers.

    More information:  

    Grevillea 'Winter Delight'

    Grevillea 'Winter Delight'


    Grevillea lanigera x lavandulacea 'Winter Delight' has small pinky-red and cream spider flowers amongst its small grey foliage. It is a compact shrub, about 40 cm tall and up to a 1 m wide. The more sun, the more flowers it produces.

    Many of the larger grevilleas have big brush flowers throughout the year. Several other grevillea cultivars have been registered with winter in the name although they are not widely available.

    More information:

    Philotheca 'Winter Rouge'

    Philotheca 'Winter Rouge'


    Philotheca myoporoides 'Winter Rouge' has pink buds which then open to pale pink flowers which fade to white. The long lasting flowers are known as wax flowers. A hardy shrub to about 1 m, it flowers from winter to spring and has aromatic foliage.

    More information:

    Winter foliage

    Acacia 'Winter Flame'

    Acacia 'Winter Flame'

    Acacia cognata 'Winter Flame' is a small, fast growing shrub to about 1 m, with fine foliage and orange tips. You don’t grow this one for the flowers, but the orange tips occur throughout the year, not just winter. A similar foliage plant with crimson tipped foliage is Acacia fimbriata ‘Crimson Blush’.

    Syzygium 'Winter Lights'

    Syzygium 'Winter Lights'

    Syzygium australe 'Winter Lights' has bright red new foliage and bright green leaves. It is a psyllid resistant shrub up to 4 m, but can be pruned for hedging or to keep it more compact. Many other lilly pillies also have orange or red new growth.

    More information:

  • 21 Jun 2019 9:45 PM | HEATHER MILES (Administrator)

    The Ravensthorpe Wildflower Show in Western Australia is one of the biggest in the world! And yet the 600+ specimens gathered in the Ravensthorpe Hall each year still only represent a third of the plants in the Shire. This is, of course, because they don’t all flower in the middle two weeks of September!

    The show keeps on growing and diversifying just like our flowers that adapt to the environment in which they live.  

    An energetic band of volunteers goes forth into the bush armed with picking licenses and secateurs to seek elusive specimens they know exactly where they can be found. As you enter the Ravensthorpe Hall the scent of the bush will assail you, the shelves of flowers will amaze and the volunteers are welcoming. A guided tour is available of the newly built Herbarium.

    Features include:

    • An interesting pollinator photographic display highlighting our Ravensthorpe Bee, the latest Australian native bee to be identified. It is unique in that it is only active while a certain species of Eucalyptus in the Ravensthorpe Range is in flower. It has only been found in this area. Fascinating! It’s called the Shaggy Spined Bee (what a name to give the poor bee). We call it the "Ravy Bee".
    • Geological display: This display highlights the correlation between plants, minerals and the rocks. 

    The program of events and activities throughout the Spring Festival is as diverse as the flowers, offering caravaners and visitors an action packed time in Ravensthorpe with its welcoming and vibrant community. 

    • Wildflower Show 9-21 September at Ravensthorpe Town Hall
    • Artisan shopping
    • Country soups and Devonshire Teas daily
    • Pop up stalls
    • Patchwork
    • Art exhibitions and photographic displays are abundant each year in Ravensthorpe and Hopetoun
    • Water colour workshops with the very talented and renowned Margaret River artist Megan Hodgson
    • 4WD Tag along Tours, with a guide to the most interesting wildflower hotspots lunch included
    • Also popular are the Walk & Talk with the rangers of the Fitzgerald River National Park – try a medium walk in a section of the Hakea Trail around 4.5 hours with great commentary, plenty of flowers and some of the most spectacular coastal scenery
    • Guided Geology Walk & Talk
    • Marine Walk & Talk
    • Country Carnival / Street Parade middle weekend
    • Guided bus tours
    • Bee keeping workshop
    • Wildflower paper making
    • C B H Silo Art
    • Gala Finale Long Table Lunch at Jerdacuttup Hall on the last Sunday 22 September.

    The town of Ravensthorpe is situated 295 km east of Albany and 185 km west of Esperance, in the south coastal region of Western Australia called the Fitzgerald Coast. Ravensthorpe is encircled by the Ravensthorpe Range and sits amid stately Salmon Gums. 

    A visit to the local national park should not be missed. The Fitzgerald River National Park (Hopetoun) hosts 1,800 different species, and it showcases itself along a wild and beautiful coast, with its famous qualup bell Pimelea physodes, royal hakea Hakea victoria, weeping gum Eucalyptus sepulcralis, smoke bush, banksias and so many more. 

    The upgraded facilities in the park include fully surfaced coastal roads, interpretive displays and lookouts with spectacular views. 

    Further details:

    Jen Biddulph Promotions, Ravensthorpe Wildflower Show & Spring Festival   0428 580737; Sue Leighton  Coordinator  0407 981 301

  • 6 Jun 2019 9:54 PM | HEATHER MILES (Administrator)

    The Morning Iris is found in southern South Australia and Kangaroo Island. It also occurs in Victoria and Western Australia.

    It is a very hardy and attractive plant for informal rockeries or massed displays. The plants somewhat resemble Dianella sp. in form but not in flower.

    Orthrosanthus belongs in the family Iridaceae whereas Dianella is included in Asphodelaceae - both have a strappy leaf clumping habit so valuable for rockeries or accent planting.

    Orthrosanthus requires very little attention and flowers in winter through to early summer. This Iris will grow in semi shade but will take full sun and may be used in coastal planting with some front-line shelter. 

    The flowers last only a day but are produced in such profusion that there is hardly a time, during its flowering season, that it is without a flower. Most people would find the butterfly and bee attracting qualities of this plant to be a bonus.

    Propagation is by seed or division. Morning Iris is sometimes available in native plant nurseries and seed is also available from seed merchants.

    This image was taken on Kangaroo Island October 2016

  • 6 Jun 2019 9:29 PM | HEATHER MILES (Administrator)

    Here are some wonderful recipes for bush foods, developed by Colleen and Geoff. 

    Just a word of warning first: Be sure plants are accurately identified. Exercise caution with unfamiliar foods. Although the following are usually considered safe, adverse reactions in particular individuals cannot be ruled out.                            

    Lemon Myrtle drink: Backhousia citriodora 

    To make 2 litres of lemon myrtle drink, take 4 fresh young lemon myrtle leaves. Pour over a small quantity of boiling water. Let cool. Add cooled liquid to a 2 litre bottle of cold water. The flavour keeps coming from leaves for several days so further drinks can be made by adding fresh water to the leaves. 

    Lemon Myrtle syrup: Backhousia citriodora 

    5 grams of lemon myrtle leaves; 1 1/4 cups of boiling water’ 1 1/4 cups of sugar

    Roughly chop lemon myrtle leaves. Pour over boiling water. When mixture has cooled, discard leaves and mix the water and sugar together. Bring mixture to the boil. Lower heat and simmer gently until the volume is reduced by a third. Pour into a sterilised jar and store in the fridge.

    Tetragonia tetragonioides, Warrigal Greens

    IMPORTANT: Warrigal Greens have a high oxalate concentration. Blanch leaves in boiling water for several minutes. Discard  water. Rinse leaves before using. 

    Warrigal Greens Pie (rice base)

    Delicious both hot and cold. Garnish with lemon myrtle leaves.

    Rice (extra tasty if rice is cooked in coconut cream)

    Greased dish, e.g. oval dish 27 cm x 19 cm and 5 cm deep.

    4 eggs, beaten with 1/2 cup milk (can be low fat milk)

    Grated cheese (can be low fat)

    Blanched Warrigal Green leaves

    Put a layer of rice into the bottom of the dish, patting down firmly until layer is about 2 cm thick. 

    Cover rice with a  thick layer of grated cheese. Place a layer of blanched Warrigal Greens so cheese is completely covered. Pour over the eggs beaten with milk. Add another layer of grated cheese to finish off. Microwave for 5 minutes on high and 10 minutes on medium.

    Hibiscus heterophyllus, Australian native hibiscus recipes 

    This native hibiscus, which occurs along the eastern coast of Australia in New South Wales & Queensland, is in the same group of plants as Hibiscus sabdariffa (Rosella). The petals of Hibiscus heterophyllus can be used to make jam, syrup and cordial. The flavour of the flowers & buds is very mild. Flowers only last one day but if they are to be used at night, they can be picked as they begin to unfurl in the morning, then stored in the refrigerator crisper and if taken out in the late afternoon, will open and stay fresh until well into the evening. The flowers make a colourful edible ornament for a salad. Buds can be pickled or boiled as a vegetable; flowers can be stuffed, made into fritters or tea.

    For the following recipes, use Hibiscus heterophyllus or some of its crosses, e.g. ‘Montburg Pink’, ‘Ian’s Cream’, ‘Citrus Haze’, ‘Citrus Mist’, ‘Tasty White’. Buds can be picked over 2-3 days & stored in fridge until required. 

    Microwave Method: Times based on 600 watts on high. Adjust times as needed according to Microwave.                                                         

    Petals only from 10 large hibiscus flowers

    1/4 cup of lemon juice

    Detach petals from calyx and discard calyx. Chop petals finely & place in a very deep pyrex bowl.

    Cover petals with lemon juice. 

    Australian Native Hibiscus Preserve: As above plus:

    1/2 cup of boiling water; 2 cups of sugar

    Microwave petals and lemon juice on high for 4 minutes. Add boiling water & sugar & stir well. Cook 2 minutes then stir. Cook another 2 minutes, stir & then cook 2 minutes more and stir. Let cool for one hour. When cool, cook for 2 minutes then stir. Test whether preserve gels by placing a small amount on a cold plate. If needed, continue cooking but no more than 2 minutes at a time. Pour into a sterilised jar. This recipe produces a rich red spread with the consistency of honey. It has a distinctive flavour and is delicious on toast or scones. Can be used as a glaze or diluted with white vinegar for sauces or marinades.

    Australian Native Hibiscus Syrup: As above plus:

    1 cup of boiling water; 1 cup of sugar

    Microwave petals and lemon juice on high for 2 minutes. Place the water & sugar into a heavy-based saucepan and heat until sugar has dissolved. Add petals & lemon juice. Bring mix to the boil. Lower heat and simmer gently until the volume is reduced by a third (about an hour). Remove from heat & strain through a fine sieve to remove petals. Pour into a sterilised jar. Syrup will keep for 12 months if refrigerated.

    Australian Native Hibiscus Cordial: As above plus:     

    1/2 cup of boiling water;  ½ cup of sugar

    Microwave petals and lemon juice on high for 2 minutes. Dissolve sugar in boiling water. Add petals and lemon juice. Place in a 2 litre bottle and fill with cold water and ice. Stir well before drinking.

    Honey Joys

    125g butter (1/2 a small packet of butter);  1/2 cup caster sugar;   2 tablespoons honey;  4 cups cornflakes

    In a frying pan (electric is easier), melt butter, sugar and honey together over medium heat. Boil for three minutes, stirring continuously. Remove from heat and pour over cereal. Put 1-2 tablespoons into separate patty pans (about 20). Leave in refrigerator until cool enough to eat. Glaze with heated Hibiscus Preserve.

    For more information, contact Colleen or Geoff at

  • 6 Jun 2019 9:06 PM | HEATHER MILES (Administrator)

    Calostemma purpureum seems to be one of those plants that gain popularity and then, for some unknown reason just stop being around, at least in the local area of Newcastle. I can recall, when first starting a native garden, seeing this attractive plant in other members' gardens and also available to buy in specialist nurseries. I am pleased that I have “rediscovered” this lily and had the pleasure of many flowering heads during late summer.

    Commonly called Garland Lily, it belongs to the family Amaryllidaceae and is the only wholly endemic genus of that family in Australia.

    Garland Lily occurs in western NSW, South Australia and north western Victoria where it is found in a variety of habitats.

    This lily makes an attractive rockery plant with leaves approx. 30cm, glossy green and fairly typical of the family. The flower heads are tubular and arranged in an umbel. Colour is purplish red and there can be as many as 16 or so flowers in the umbel and there are multiple stems over the growing period.

    In common with some other members of the Amaryllidaceae, it often flowers in a leafless state in summer and early autumn when there are fewer flowers to be seen in gardens, otherwise the leaves are persistent. I have noticed that leaves will die off in dry times even during peak growth times so some watering and mulching will be beneficial during dry periods. In my experience, Calostemma will tolerate some shade.

    Calostemma makes a delightful rockery plant that could be used as a massed planting or planted in pockets where it would grow taller than lower or prostrate plants and so add another dimension to a rockery display. 

    Propagation is easy, the fruits can be collected green or as soon as they fall and they sometimes begin germination in a storage envelope. I have not noticed any particular pests but I’m sure slugs and snails would enjoy them.

    REF: ANBG article,

  • 6 Jun 2019 7:57 PM | enewsletter Editor (Administrator)

    Cover of Autumn 2019 issue of Australian Plants with alpine herbfields

    The Autumn 2019 issue of Australian Plants was mailed to members and subscribers in late May. Members of the Australian Plants Society NSW receive Australian Plants four times a year as part of their membership.

    The Autumn issue contains articles on:

    • Update on the Terra Australis garden at the National Arboretum
    • The role of Aboriginal people in the dispersal of plants
    • Wild horses and Kosciuszko’s workaholic plants
    • Travelling stock routes: not just for livestock
    • Native orchids of the Blue Mountains
    • The AusZen portable garden
    • Australian native flower photographs in ultraviolet light.

    Subscribe now

    Non-members can subscribe. Annual subscription (four issues) is $30 including postage. Overseas subscription is $45.

    Online payment is now available here.


    Subscription Officer

    PO Box 3066

    Bowenfels NSW 2790

    Single issues

    Limited supplies of recently published past issues are available for $5 per issue plus $2 postage in Australia. Email

  • 30 May 2019 5:04 PM | HEATHER MILES (Administrator)

    This article first appeared in the Garden Design Study Group Newsletter, May 2019.

    More information on the study group managed by our 'mother' organisation can be found here

    Since moving here in 2000, the temperatures have varied from 47 C in Summer to -6 C in Winter. 

    The use of appliances to modify temperature, such as an air-conditioner or heater, impacts on expenses and on the environment. However, their use can be minimised or even made unnecessary, by planting deciduous native trees, Melia azedarach along the north of the house.

    In summer, Melia trees are a mass of foliage, so reducing the heat that can enter the house. 

    In winter, the trunks are completely bare, thus allowing full sun into the house for winter warmth. 

    Planting a row of Melia to the north of the house has meant that in summer, a comfortable temperature is reached with the use of fans or an evaporative air-conditioner. There is no heating in winter, other than in the bathroom for early morning showers.

    Melia azedarach not only modifies the temperature of our house but provides seasonal changes not often seen in the sub-tropics. The perfumed flowers in Spring attract a range of butterflies. The stunning foliage in Autumn is a reminder of the bare branches to follow in Winter.

    Perfumed flowers in spring

    Lush foliage in summer  Golden colour in autumn

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