Eastern Hills Annual Native Plant Sale

Once again we are staging our annual bonanza of a plant sale. This sale offers hundreds of local plants grown by local enthusiasts who will be on hand to offer lots of advice. There are plants suited to a range of soil types.  All plants are subject to rigid quality control, so they have well developed roots and will thrive in your garden. Ranging from $2.50  to $6 they are a very economical way to start or develop your native garden. And it’s a perfect time to plant.

Chittering Wildflower Show

A Three Day Celebration of our beautiful West Australian Springtime of Colour.  Chittering Landcare Centre (175 Old Gingin Rd off Great Northern Hwy just north of the Brand Hwy lights) has a display of named wildflower specimens.  Assistance with identification of wildflowers is available, copies of the book “Wildflowers of Chittering and surrounds” and native plants will be available to purchase.   Refreshments, weed identification and landcare advice each day and Saturday is family day with extra attractions for children.


The town of Bindoon celebrates with its annual Spring Flower Festival with its gardens out in colour and other festival activities.  There is the Bindoon Tale Trail for those wishing to take a stroll through the history of Bindoon and Chittering; Quilts in Spring and Bindoon Museum, both located in the historical Brockman Centre, 6 kilometres south of the town; and other activities within walking distance of Bindoon Hall include Art and Photography Exhibition and Sales, Historical Vehicle Day, Bindoon Op Shop, Plantation Wildflowers and Market Stalls.


Filled with hope and possibilities: The Art of Vanessa Liebenberg

On 2 February 2017 local artist Vanessa Liebenberg will speak at the first gathering of the Murdoch Branch for the year.

Flora plays a major role in Vanessa’s work as an artist and textile designer. Since moving to Western Australia, she has been fascinated by the plant life and wildflowers of WA. Vanessa will discuss some of these influences and the influences of botanical artists on her work, as well as the process and media she uses.

Vanessa spoke recently with Viki Cramer about her art.

New Season. Pyrography on wood.

It all begins with burning the wood. Vanessa Liebenberg loves this phase of developing a new work. “I love wood, the feel of it, the ‘organic-ness’ of it, and when I’m burning into it it’s just got a beautiful look. I find the whole process really meditative. I can do that for hours.”

She works on specially made panels of wood veneer onto which she first makes a detailed drawing, burning out the wood with a pyrography pen.

Her works are then built up, layer upon layer, much like the native bushland that is home to the wildflowers and birds that tangle and flit through her paintings in a cycle of birth, death, rebirth and new beginnings.

“I’m originally a textile designer so I think that’s a big influence because textiles can be quite layered and, especially because I was a woven textile designer, I also did the construction of the fabric as well as the design.”

What lies beneath. Mixed media on wood canvas.

After burning the wood, Vanessa does separate detailed sketches with a calligraphy pen that are transferred onto silk screen and then screen-printed onto the panel. Then she begins to “pull it all together”, beginning with a layer of a medium that allows her to paint onto the wood.

“It’s a really complicated way of doing it,” she admits with a smile, “as now I have all this detail and then I have to sort of paint in between it with the medium, and then I have to paint it again with what I’m doing next, which is mostly acrylic [paint]. Then when everything is really dry I would do the last layer, which is the oil paint.”

Her technique of layering different media is an important part of how Vanessa creates her artworks. Developing this technique has been a gradual process. “I used to do mostly oil painting, mostly quite traditional detailed flowers and portraits, but then I think I got a little bit bored with that. I missed the textile design part and I wanted to add more layers. I missed drawing. I like all those different ways of creating – drawing, painting, printing – and I was thinking of a way of how to combine it into one piece. So gradually it evolved into that process.”

She likes the unexpectedness of where the process takes her. “I will have an idea in my head, but I won’t have a complete picture,” she says of the initial phase of creating a new work.

Somewhere. Pyrography and mixed media on wood.

Vanessa draws inspiration and comfort from the resilience of nature; in how plants and animals endure and adapt to the changing environment around them with what she regards as quiet and joyful determination.

“You look at nature and it just goes on, it doesn’t matter what happens,” she says. Flowers grow in obscure places under the most difficult conditions. “It makes me think that I sometimes take life a bit too seriously, and then when I see that I feel comforted. I think it’s beautiful and soothing and calming, and filled with hope and possibilities.”

Hope and future possibilities, for humanity and for nature, are recurring themes in Vanessa’s work. Several of her paintings feature children surrounded by a kaleidoscope of flowers and birds. “I often think about children and how they’ve got this world of possibilities in front of them, of what can still happen and what they can achieve,” she says. She muses on that feeling of looking back on your own life, especially as you get older, and remembering just how exciting the world was when you were young, when you believed anything could happen.

Possibilities. Pyrography and mixed media on wood.

Vanessa has painted and drawn since she was a child, and continued to do so even while working full-time as a textile designer. At times her obsession with painting has felt something of a curse. “It’s not an easy occupation, so sometimes I’ve thought why, why, why do I always feel this need to create something?” She laughs. “Can’t I just be a doctor? Why the struggle?”

The upside of her constant urge to create is that she is never bored. “I have a million things in my head that I want to do, but I just don’t have enough time.”

Since emigrating to Perth from Cape Town in 2007, Vanessa has developed a fascination for kangaroo paws and banksias.

“It doesn’t matter how many times I look at the kangaroo paw or the banksia, I just have this intense desire to draw it or to paint it. I think it’s the amazing form and colours, but mostly the form. I also love the eucalyptus trees, the shape of the leaves and the colours, and the way that they hang.”

The choice of which plants or birds she will incorporate into any particular piece is not a calculated decision. “I see something beautiful and I want to recreate it” she says.

Vanessa provides sound advice to budding botanical artists about how to approach such complex floral forms. “When I paint or draw anything, I don’t look at and see ‘this is a flower that I’m going to draw’, I look at it as shapes and light and dark; as shadows and light. And if you do that and you really look at what you’re seeing – the shadows, the light – you can draw anything.”

“If you practice” she adds.

All artworks are by Vanessa Liebenberg and are reproduced with her permission. You can see more of Vanessa’s art on her website.

Author: Viki Cramer


Spectacular Flora of Hyden

Our Dear Member Dr Eddy Wajon has been commissioned to write a colour guide book to the Flora of Hyden. Unlike his series of Colour Guides to the Spring Wildflowers of Western Australia, which covers only those plants flowering predominantly in Spring, the Wildflowers of Hyden will cover what may be found in flower at any time of the year. This has entailed visiting Hyden for 4-7 days every month for the past 15 months, photographing whatever is in flower within a 40 km radius of Hyden. As expected, spring is peak flowering time, but there is always something in flower, with the least in late autumn. Some groups of plants seem to flower in abundance in particular non-spring flowering times, eg Eucalypts, Acacias or Melaleucas.

Eddy will share the stories behind his photos of some of the spectacular, interesting, common and less common wildflowers in flower. His recent camera hunt proves that there still a lot to discover in this under-appreciated eastern section of the Wheatbelt.

The door opens at 7.30 with $3 raffles that can win you something natively interesting! Eddy’s talk will start after the Wildflowers’ “Show & Tell “at ~ 7:45 pm. See who is coming on our Facebook Event Page too.