During eleven years of researching Georgiana’s life, I’ve learned just a little about the topic that became her life’s work but it’s a tiny fraction of what there is to know. Gardeners, horticulturalists and botanists all seem to have their own particular interests and specialisms so it’s always a great pleasure to receive feedback and information from the people who really know about the indigenous flora of the southwest, where Georgiana was collecting and gardening herself. Like her, they devote their own time with great dedication to seed collecting, propagating and promoting the welfare of the incredibly diverse species of the Capes region in southwest Western Australia.

I’m still learning and still being amazed by the plants, trees, funghi and mosses that grow here around my own home, and in the protected rural places like Bush Reserves, even in remnant bushland that’s retained within developed areas like housing. Here are some of the memories I’ve collected along the way.

Botanical collectors in the southwest

There are so many resources available in our wonderful archives, museums and libraries and, increasingly, many of them are also available online as digital images. Documents I’ve found using the Internet have been invaluable over the years but there’s really nothing that beats the pleasure of holding the real thing in your hand – whether […]

Molloy & Mangles

It’s a bit late for an update on the last year’s work but I really have been busy on other writerly things – not to mention the rolling wave of visitors who all come in January to escape the European winter. First, very good news, a new book being published later this year that will […]

The botanical desiderata of Georgiana Molloy

It’s a year since my new biography of Georgiana Molloy was published by Pan Macmillan in Australia and New Zealand (May 2016) so it’s probably time to move on but history just will NOT let go of me. It was exciting to discover so much that was new in the story of Georgiana’s life but […]

Flowers and finds

It’s wildflower season in WA’s southwest and it’s been impossible not to think of Georgiana Molloy in the last few weeks as we’ve watched the bush blooming. Winter’s long wet tail has been good for so many of the native plants and this has to be one of the most spectacular displays for years. We […]

June 6th 1830 and 2016

On 6th June 1830 Georgiana collected some ‘little blue flowers. and placed them in her baby’s coffin before she nailed down the lid. She wrote later that there was very little else in flower because it was the beginning of winter. A few weeks ago Mike and I went to Augusta with botanist Dr Alex […]

Endurance

This brilliantly coloured Beaufortia squarrosa (Sand bottlebrush) has been flowering steadily now in the bush at home for at six months. It’s growing in very dry, sandy soil and it receives no special care from me, even during the summer when temperatures are in the thirties and there has been no rain for three months. A few […]

Little blue flowers

The research journey of discovering more about Georgiana Molloy and her life has been a long one – more than a decade – and it continues now, even after the publication of the new Picador edition of my book. I think that’s what it is about research that fascinates and motivates and keeps you going […]

Seeds

It’s the day after Christmas and it’s hot. This weather has a remarkable effect on some plants. It took a while for us to realise that the loud bangs we keep hearing in the garden during summer are the native hardenbergia pods popping open to disperse their seeds with a fierce little explosion. This morning […]

A botanical story

It’s late spring in Western Australia and that makes it difficult to post anything that isn’t botanical!  So many WA native plants are flowering profusely and I can’t look through the window without seeing new blooms appearing nearly every day: this morning, blue sun orchids. Among the most vivid colours are the boldly-coloured ‘red and […]

An online resource for researchers

I was very excited to receive an invitation to contribute a Guest Blog to the Biodiversity Heritage Library. I’ve been following this fantastic organisation for a while on Facebook and on their website, viewing the regular postings and information they share. Managed by the Smithsonian in New York, the BHL is a collective of major libraries including […]