Saturday, 8 August 2009

It's Spring!


Would these magnolias in the beautiful gardens of 'Claremont' in Pymble be flowering if it wasn't spring? Would the wattles be in full bloom across south-eastern Australia to the degree that the cabbie in Canberra tells me it must be spring, if it wasn't? What are the hardenbergias and boronias flaring purple in the bush for if it isn't spring?

Well there are a few responses to this of course. Firstly, perhaps, one wattle/magnolia/boronia does not a spring make. Then, there's plenty of other things not in flower. And on to, it's different for me because I live in Katoomba/Hobart/Darwin. And so on.

Of course 'seasons' vary across the country and the vary from year to year. But as I say every year, we don't have an early spring this year in Sydney, we have the usual start to our peak flowering season, in August.

So what to do about it? I've argued for a rewrite of our seasons - see specifically my suggested Seasons for Coastal Sydney or a few other mentions here.

Today I spoke on this topic at the Easy Care Gardening Garden & Market Day at the lovely 'Claremont' home in Pymble. I outlined my case for five seasons - spring (August, September), pre-summer (October, November), mid-summer (December, January, February, March), kind-of-autumn (April, May) and winter (June, July).

You've got to agree that it's appealing to have two months for winter and four for summer! But seriously, the seasons in most of our regions don't, and shouldn't, be the same as the old country. The trouble is that head just 100 km inland (and upland) from Sydney, my system won't work properly - for a start they have real autumns. And then there is the problem of temperatures and the like (climate) having cycles slightly different to the plants (which use day-length as well as water availability and temperature).

In any case I said today, as I've said before, that if we can't change the seasons let's at least celebrate the start of critical times in the botanical cycle. The first thing to do would be to move Wattle Day to 1 August rather than 1 September. I'm aware of the history of this day and that it was proclaimed nationally in 1992 to be 1 September, but...

I got some feedback today that Wattle Day is still celebrated (as it was more or less officially between the two World Wars) on 1 August in places like Orange.

It's a discussion we need to have. Before we can talk about changes in our gardens or the bush due to climate change, let's sort out our seasons or at least the recognition we give to the long-standing cycles that we live with every year.

Image: From the garden of 'Claremont'. For more about Easy Care Gardening see their website. Easy Care Gardening Inc. is a community based (not for profit) group assisting elderly and disabled pensioners to stay in their homes for longer. The support is through teams of volunteers weeding, mulching and pruning gardens. It's well worth supporting.

1 comment:

Tim Entwisle said...

In case you are wondering, when I did a straw poll of botanic gardens around Australia last year I got the following response (any misinterpretations are mine...):

o Peak wattle flowering and spring begin c. 1 August (BRIS, SYD). Although one later Herbarium response from Brisbane in disagreement...
o Peak wattle flowering begins c. 1 August, spring begins c. 1 September (MEL, CANB) – still cold…
o Peak wattle flowering and spring begin c. 1 September (HO)
o Peak spring begins c. 1 September but good to have Wattle Day separate celebration such as 1 August (PERTH)
o Peak wattle flowering and spring begin in September and prefer equinox as start of spring (AD)
o Peak wattle flowering and spring begin mid-way between 1 August and 1 September (ALICE)
o Spring not really relevant (DARWIN)