One of the best things about living in Perth is being able to explore one of the world’s biodiversity hotspots; the Southwest Australia Ecoregion. One of the most well-known examples of this biodiversity is the wildflowers and orchids of the southwest, something that lots of Boffins have experience with – almost all our customers can tell us about their last trip to Margaret River or Albany, the encounter with a wren they had in the karri forests, or when the first wildflower appears on their property. September and October see an explosion of colour as these wildflowers begin to put on a show, and everyone, from amateur photographers to experienced botanists, loves the feeling of getting that perfect shot of a rare or delicate flower. So what are the best books to have on hand to help with your hunting?
Simon Nevill’s Guide to the Wildflowers of Western Australia is finally back on our shelves, having been out of print for a few years. We’re really pleased that it’s available again as it’s easily one of the best guides around, covering over 1150 species with ‘on-location’ photographs to help you work out where best to look. Although it’s a large (A4) size, it’s slim and light enough to pop in your pack and take out in the field.
This year also saw the publication of a new fourth edition of Orchids of South-West Australia by Noel Hoffman and Andrew & Justin Brown. Noel has been hunting orchids since the 1930s and this book is a true labour of love. Since the third edition was released, 70 new species have been named, and this new edition also has detailed maps and descriptions as well as the flowering period for each species. It’s quite a tome to take with you on a walk, but well worth it if you’re looking for some of the rarer plants, or want to know exactly which orchid you’ve found.
If you want something pocket-sized that will help with the animals and plants you’re most likely to see, the Bush Books range is perfect. They don’t have the range or depth of the books above but are great for day trips, first timers, or little Boffins.
Another brilliant new addition to our range is Malcolm French & Dean Nicolle’s Eucalypts of Western Australia: The South-West Coast and Ranges. A few years ago Malcolm French published one of the only books on the Eucalypts of our Wheatbelt, and this new book picks up where it left off to provide full coverage of the 147 species of Eucalypts found in the South-West region. Some of these species have never before been described in a book format, and it includes a reference guide to the flowering times.
Keen to get into the cutting-edge of cooking? Feeling hungry after a long day on the trail? Or maybe you’ve read Dark Emu and want to learn more about the plants used by the Noongar. Grab yourself a copy of Noongar Bush Tucker (the follow up to Noongar Bush Medicine) and discover just how useful and tasty our native plants can be. These two books are real treasure troves of knowledge.
Check out Mushrooms & Other Fungi of South West Western Australia (or Field Guide To The Larger Fungi of the Darling Scarp) if you want to catch the end of the mushroom season.
Western Australian Plant Names and Their Meanings is back in stock. Having last been printed in 1996, this book has now had a thorough update – in the years since then, about 2000 plants have been named and added to the WA flora list. This book is an excellent way to discover the hidden stories behind the Latin names of plants.
Once you’ve spent a bit of time looking at wildflowers and orchids it’s hard not to want to go further – of course, picking them and taking them home is illegal but you can photograph to your heart’s content. With enough practice you could even end up in the Australasian Nature Photography Awards! Because so many of the native flowers are very petite, it can be hard to get a clear shot of them, but patience (and a steady hand) goes a long way and we’ve found even an iPhone camera can get pretty stunning results. It helps that the subjects are so photogenic! And with a little tweaking in Photoshop, Lightroom, or your preferred editing software, even some of the rejected shots can be used.
At Boffins we’ve also noticed more and more of our customers turning their hand to botanical illustration. The satisfaction of completing one of these detailed drawings is immense and even simple techniques with a bit of practice can get stunning results. There’s a wealth of books available on the topic but we especially love this one from the Society of Botanical Artists. Because they offer Diplomas as well as Society membership they’ve got the teaching technique down and of course, the book is also packed with inspirational work from past and present students. This book also covers some of the historical techniques used for botanical work, such as egg tempera, although I think most of us prefer to stick with modern paints!
Another great reference to have on hand is Botany for the Artist. It’s an older book, but one that we continue to stock and sell because it’s simply a great introduction to many of the techniques you’ll want to use for this type of artwork.
If you need a little inspiration to get pencil to paper, One of our favourite artists to turn to is Philippa Nikulinsky, whose botanical artwork is recognized around the world. As well as her books, we stock a range of gift cards featuring her art that are perfect for overseas gifts, or even to keep at home. And if you had the chance to see her show at Lawrence Wilson Art Gallery, we now have the accompanying book Nikulinksy Naturally in store. This book is a celebration of Nikulinsky’s career and as well as the gorgeous works themselves, the essays provide insight into the work process and habits of this brilliant artist.
We’re lucky enough to be attending the What On Earth Open Day at the end of September and if you’re interested in botanical art you should make the trip to Mundaring Arts Centre for this event. There will be plenty of other wonderful activites – including natural dyeing workshops and plant sales, a wildflower walk and a historical display of WA flora highlighting the various ways that it has been used throughout history. We’ll be at the Mundaring Hall with a collection of our botanical books for you to browse, and we look forward to seeing you there!Share on Twitter Share on Facebook