Published on 20 June 2019

Memorial for Forgotten Plants

The beach is an essential part of Australian culture, and often the source of many of our treasured memories.

But growing populations, development and our love of the coast has unfortunately disturbed fragile environments, increased pollution and opened the door to weed invasion and feral animals.

The sadness experienced when moving around suburbs and seeing little native vegetation is part of the inspiration behind a new exhibition by Adelaide artist Louise Flaherty, launching at Sauerbier House on Saturday 22 June (1:30pm to 4pm – details here).

Memorial for Forgotten Plantswhich runs until 27 July, features ink drawings, stories and paper installations “memorialising” the native flora of Port Noarlunga and its “vanishing” natural environments.

It follows her three-month residency at Sauerbier House, during which she participated in the Resilient South Cimate exChange initiative, which partners artists with southern councils to access climate change data and science and interpret it through art.

As an artist in residence, Louise undertook research with the City of Onkaparinga’s Sustainability and Natural Areas Conservation Teams to identify the original species of local native flora in Port Noarlunga’s dunes and their vanishing natural environments.

She held studio-based art sessions with the local community, inviting them to discuss how climate change is affecting vulnerable native species, before they created artworks of their own to be included in the exhibition.

Louise also took inspiration from the local volunteer South Port Noarlunga Coastcare Group, which helps conserve and rehabilitate the dunes.

She says some of her favourite plants from the dunes include Running Postman (Kennedia prostrata), muntries (Kunzea pomifera), Pelargonium australe, pig face (Carpobrotus rossii) and the vulnerable Coast Fanflower (Scaevola angustata), which is threatened by coastal development and rubbish dumping.

“My hope is that my work can assist in raising awareness in what local plants are around and highlight the beauty in them, and perhaps a few more people might look at including them in their gardens,” Louise says

Fellow artist-in-residence Kirsty Darlaston will exhibit alongside Louise, presenting the exhibition Samphire Test Pattern, which investigates local Samphire plants using the textile sampler as a site of exploration.

Protecting our local native plants

City of Onkaparinga Nature Conservation Project Officer Nikola Manos says council reserves contain a number of rare plant species.

“Many of these plants are also hosts to other species including native butterflies, bees and birds by providing homes, food and shelter,” Nikola says.

“If these plants are lost, it has a significant impact on the survival of other species that are dependent on them.

“The Natural Areas Conservation Team has been working on protecting important habitats through strategic weed control and revegetation programs so that native ecosystems, including rare species, can survive in our coastal, urban and creek line reserves.

“These reserves may be small, but as a collective they can act as island refuges and corridors, which are connected to larger conservation parks.”

The City of Onkaparinga protects 334 hectares of coastal vegetation, with the goal to improve its health and make sure local animals and plants survive for future generations to enjoy.

If you’d like to play a part in conserving rare plants and encouraging native birds and butterflies to visit, there are many species suitable for you to grow at home.

See below a list of native plant species rated rare for the Onkaparinga region, which are suitable for home gardens and available from specialist native nurseries.

For more information on what to plant, contact the Natural Areas Conservation Team on 8384 0688.

  • Acacia cupularis (Coast Umbrella Bush)
  • Acacia rupicola (Rock Wattle)
  • Alyxia buxifolia (Sea box)
  • Callistemon sieberi (River Bottlebrush)
  • Cullen australasicum (Native Scurf-pea)
  • Cymbopogon ambiguous (Lemon Scented Grass)
  • Goodenia albiflora (White Goodenia)
  • Kunzea pomifera (Muntries)
Louise during her residency at Sauerbier House