A year ago I wrote about my first experiences with the Firewood Banksia, or Banksia menziesii. Funnily enough I called that blog post "Banksias up close: a post script", as reference to a previous blog post about Banksia ericifolia. Rather than being a post-script, I think it may have been the beginning of something new; the beginning of a love affair with Banksia.
This year I am once again back in Perth, building on the fieldwork I did last year. Mostly my 'fieldwork' for this past month has involved chemistry work in the lab. But not that long ago I found myself with a spare Sunday afternoon, searching for my first helmet orchids (Corybas recurvus) just north of Perth. As luck would have it, I found my helmet orchids, and it was on the way back to the car that I chanced upon a small Firewood Banksia tree that was full of inflorescences at different stages: buds, flowers, and old, woody fruits.
The more time I spend with Banksias, the more I realise that so much beauty can be found before and after the actual flowering. The colour of the buds and how the colours change before flowering, and then after flowering the shedding of old flowers and the 'pimples' on the inflorescence which turn into woody fruit called follicles that eventually break open and release the seed.
The wonderfully talented Phillipa Nikulinsky created a beautiful small book with exactly this wonder of the Firewood Banksia. Each painting represents one small step along the flowering journey, from small buds to the release of the seed from their hard woody capsules.