Winter White

Pecan orchard in winter

Pecan orchard in early winter

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.

Sulphur Crested Cockatoo eating a pecan

Sulphur Crested Cockatoo eating a pecan

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).

Flowering pear in early winter

Flowering pear in early winter

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).

Flowering pear in winter - last summer's leaves aren't falling

The same flowering pear in winter – last summer’s leaves aren’t falling off this branch

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.
IMG_5488-001IMG_5482-001The 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.


About Laura Rittenhouse

I'm an American-Australian author, gardener and traveller. Go to my writing website: for more. If you're trying to find my gardening blog, it's here.
This entry was posted in bees, Garden, Nature and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to Winter White

  1. The difference between your winter and a Colorado winter is almost like night and day. 🙂

  2. I think I would be very confused living in Australia. Amelia

  3. Perhaps the season’s name should be changed from ‘winter’ to ‘wonder’, as in “I wonder what the trees think is going on?”

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