Canberra is having a very windy spring this year…
Quite a few of us have had many bad hair days..
The rain clouds rising from the Brindabella Mountains in spring
We have also had an incredible amount of rain this year. After ten years of drought, everyone is collectively holding our breath and hoping it will continue…
Canberra is cool Temperate and Alpine Zone 8-9. In theory we have:
mild or warm summers (I would say, often very hot summers)
cold winters (heavy frosts)…Yes!
and spring is a pivotal event…Yes!
Tim Entwisle, the Director of the Royal Botanic Gardens in Melbourne, has written a book about Australia’s changing seasons, called Sprinter and Sprummer.
He says we should adopt a five season approach, early spring should include August and be called Sprinter (August September)
And late spring should be called Sprummer (October, November)
He bases his seasonal categories on the timing of the plants, the activities of the animals, and the unsettled weather before we move into summer.
It is true that much of Australia has no real spring or a very short spring, and not many of the flowers and plants common to the European spring.
However, in Canberra, as you can see, we do have a joyous spring, after a cold winter. (by Aussie standards, of course..)
Paul suggests that we have should have our own season called Sprindy because we do have a lot of windy weather in spring.
However, during our Canberra spring, we brave the windy, often cold weather , to plant and enjoy English cottage garden flowers like Jonquils, daffodils, aquilegia, tulips, Iris.
Many flowers only come out in late spring, (November) and then we can smell summer in the air.
However, during the spring and summer the real stars of the garden are not the pretty spring bulbs and flowers, but the flowering long lasting, ”foot soldiers” of the garden. I’m coming to appreciate them more and more. For example..
The Orange Sparaxis, grows in poor soil and has survived through drought and wind and rain. They are striking to look at, and these flowers, right by the walkway, are often admired by passers-by.
This is a Native Geranium ground cover, which will flower and flourish in all conditions, and brings the bees. I have seen a photo of a Geranium just like this called Wild Geranium on Jason and his wife Judy’s great blog called garden in a city .
The Lemon-scented Geranium is another plant that tolerates almost any conditions, and brings the bees and the butterflies too. Another foot solider.
We have three Bottlebrush bushes in our garden, but this one deserves a special mention, for hanging in there, behind the cabin for many years. The winter and spring rain have made it sit up and take notice and it is lovely to see its flaming red colour across the garden.
And now for my spring change of heart……the Iris is lovely, but……. here today, and gone tomorrow. In autumn I spent ages re-planting the Iris into this part of the garden, and very soon the plants were leggy and falling over in the wind and rain. We were away for a week, and the flowers had died off, and the weeds had taken over.
Enough already! In autumn we will dig them up, and keep a select few and replace the rest with the hardy native plants.
Of course I’ll always grow some spring flowers, they are such a joy and sign of hope in a garden.
As Peter Cundal, the previous presenter of Gardening Australia, said one day, as he bent over a some spring plants..
”when I see the first signs of a spring plant coming up, my heart gives a little leap!”
..and I feel exactly the same way.
This has been a big week for our family, as my older brother had a long and serious heart operation and is now successfully recovering. He is a dedicated reader of my blog, and is extremely knowledgeable about birds and plants. He lives in a beautiful part of the world (Port Macquarie) with no winter or sprinter, and I know he will be glad to be back there very soon, and I look forward to him being well and able to enjoy his own green spaces again.
Copyright Geraldine Mackey all rights reserved.