Grazing kangaroos overlook the little nodding flowers in powdery earth putting on a brave show.
On a spindly, 30cm-high stem in decomposing granite, the Royal Bluebell, the ACT's floral emblem, is flowering at Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve.
Acting senior ranger Murray Aston said the roos might not like it, but sugar gliders snack on it at night because of its high sugar content. Blue tongue lizards don't mind it either.
Retired architect, industrial and graphic designer Derek Wrigley, 88, has a dim memory of why this bluebell's dainty design captured his attention more than 26 years ago, when a committee short-listed it for Canberra's floral emblem.
He was asked to assess its merits after a committee headed by then director of the Australian National Botanic Gardens, Robert Boden, had evaluated local species as potential floral emblems, but remembers little about its selection.
Except somewhere in the back of his mind was another emblem, possibly for Alice Springs or the Northern Territory.
''I thought if we could have one as good as this, we'll be right.''
The bluebell was prolific, which helped.
''It was a nice and dainty little flower. It had a delicate thin stem, and it was not very big, about one and a half centimetres across. I think it was a good choice,'' said Mr Wrigley.
So did the Royal Australian Mint, which produced a medallion in 1983 bearing the Royal Bluebell.
The National Botanic Gardens says its species name, Gloriosa, is Latin for superb or glorious, a reference to qualities of a plant worthy of cultivation.
It grows in sunny or semi-shaded positions in shallow pots or hanging baskets and likes well-drained soils which can be enriched with humus or soluble fertiliser.
Even so, the steep stony slopes at Tidbinbilla above the 1897 Rock Valley homestead is no place for spoilt pansies, only a true blue Australian flower which turns to the north to stare at the sun.
Mr Aston said it was not the most ''out there'' flower and only grew sparsely in the reserve. In areas where it did mass, mowers often cut it down to clear paths.
More people came to Tidbinbilla to see the animals, even though there were notable orchids and flowers, including the Royal Bluebell, one of three bluebell species. ''We're an untapped market. We get a lot of birdwatchers [and] for a short time we get the flower people. They're more for bushwalkers or researchers.'' Mr Aston said the annual was also found on Mt Majura and Mt Taylor.
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