It’s early winter here. I grew up in Seattle and there you could tell the season and even the month just by looking out your window. At this time of year (December, after northern hemisphere seasonal adjustment) the trees would be bare, no flowers anywhere, the sky would be grey. December was Winter with a capital W.
Now I live in Sydney and I hope I can be excused for sometimes scratching my head and looking at the calendar. It’s not always easy to determine the season by observing plants here.
Part of the problem is that most Australian trees aren’t deciduous. I don’t think any natives in my area lose their leaves over winter. Or at least not all at once. They shed throughout the year, just like pine trees. Of course there are a lot of imported plants that do a better job of communicating the seasons, like the pecan trees. They are sensible old things and have ripe nuts in autumn, lose their leaves in winter, have flowers in spring and wear leaves all summer. The orchard in the photo above has almost lost all its leaves but is still holding on to some nuts which means early winter. The cockatoos are happy about those lingering nuts and help the trees shed their burden. They certainly understand the pecan seasons because they come in the scores only when ripe nuts are still in the trees.
So when I look at the pecan trees I can judge the season. But the other plants in my garden are more of a mystery. Here’s the flowering pear (or that’s what I call it – it could be anything really).
Half of the tree lost its leaves in autumn and now seems to think it’s spring (it’s skipping winter entirely). The other half still has its summer leaves but is getting flowers anyway (why not, I say).
There are heaps of flowers in the garden, right now the tree dahlias are my favourite because they stand near the flowering pear tree and make me realise that a white winter need not mean snow. Not being a fan of snow (or cold and wet in general) this kind of winter suits me fine.
The bees love both the pear and the dahlias and seem as confused about the seasons as I am. They’re still bringing in pollen and nectar for all that brood the queen is producing. No rest for the weary in my apiary.