Writing the previous blog post about Wahlenbergia from photographs taken almost a year ago actually inspired me to photograph more. While writing it, I realised I didn't have any good photos of Wahlenbergia gloriosa, the royal bluebell. And why the royal bluebell? Because it is the floral emblem of the ACT.
I think when most people think of the floral emblem of the ACT, any old bluebell will fit the bill. But in fact, the royal bluebell is almost exclusively a mountain species, common only along the Brindabellas to the west of Canberra. You won't find this one in your local reserve.
So on Monday, the coldest day in many months, I headed up into the Brindabellas in search of our floral mascot. A quick search of the Atlas of Living Australia revealed records all along the range but clustered around Mt Franklin and Mt Ginini. I decided to focus my search around Mt Franklin, as I knew the summit is quite open and I wanted to get a shot with the mountains in the background.
Walking up the track to the summit, I found many bluebell flowers but most were not fully open - I am blaming the cold weather. With a bit of perseverance, I managed to find a few that were open.
These bluebells are unlike other species in having flat leaves with wavy margins at the base of the stem, almost in a rosette. The flowers are also large and have a very deep purple colour, much deeper than most other bluebells.
At the summit, I searched far and wide for a fully open flower that I could juxtapose with the mountains in the background. Most of the bluebells were growing under and around snow gums, so it wasn't easy to find one that would stand out. I got lucky with this one though: