Australian seasons are all wrong.
In the third week of July, I thought, Spring is in the air. ‘Technically’ it was actually the middle of Winter. The application of the traditional four seasons to much of Australia can be questioned.
As a kid, I was fascinated by the idea of the English trying to establish crops in their Australian colony and not knowing the seasons were the opposite. I am sure I was taught this in school – but it seems unlikely. They had been out and about colonising for long enough to at least know summer was in December. But what of the actual vagaries of the seasons?
Indigenous communities describe the seasons based on what they observe and experience. Dr Tim Entwisle considered these descriptions and his own experiences in his book Sprinter and Sprummer. He proposes five seasons for southern Australia.
Sprinter – August and September. This he calls early spring when he observes bushland (wattle in particular) in bloom. Here, in southern Queensland, our wattle is out in July.
Sprummer – October and November he calls changeable with a second wave of flowering.
Summer – December to March – a long and hot four months
Autumn – April to May – The season is changing but only in far southern Australia are the leaves changing as well.
Winter – June to July – short and sweet.
This rings true for me in my part of Southern Queensland and matches my gardening habits. I am doing my spring jobs in August. Some of them, in late July if there has been some rain and a few warmer days.
However, Summer can well and truly here by November. I know this because it is my birthday and my son’s birthday and the icing always melts on our cakes. It is too hot to garden except very early and very late in the day. Thirsty plants start to need daily water. In fact, some October’s are summery. Spring is so short if I don’t start while it is ‘technically’ winter I will never be prepared.
Summer feels like it will never end. It is certainly still here in February though we get some relief in March. All I have to say about winter is: I love winter in Brisbane – last year it was on a Wednesday.
The point is gardeners are better to observe and follow what is going on around them, not what the calendar or a traditional view of seasons expects.
What do you think are the real seasonal pattern where you live?