Strawberries in the Desert

Story telling from Australia

Who needs winter?

Why do some plants lose their leaves in winter and others don’t? I know the science (sort of). I accept some plants are deciduous and others evergreen, but why? Why do some power through when others need a break?

Thank you Django Zazou for your gorgeous pic of snow covered hills in northern England.

Django Zazou’s pic of snow covered hills in England

 

I’m not an evergreen. I need winter to recoup, to hunker down and store energy, to build up reserves for a growth spurt come spring. The jonquils I planted last weekend won’t look like they’re doing anything on the surface but underground the bulbs will be storing energy, biding their time until the warming soil and spring rain encourage the first green shoots to push their way through the dark, nudging aside whatever lies in the way as they search for the light. I know how they feel.

But winter in Sydney is barely noticeable, not compared to the northern hemisphere. The sun often shines, there’s barely any frost to speak of and temperatures rarely dip below double digits. And snow? Most people have never seen it. The roses are shooting even now.

It’s winter all the same though, and I feel it in my soul just as I imagine the trees must feel it in their brittle leaves as they colour and fall. It’s time to pause. I’ve had my finger on the fast forward button for so long – get rid of the boring bits, show me the highlights NOW – that I’m in danger of forgetting to look back and appreciate how far I’ve come.

The courtyard garden I’ve so often railed against is quietly establishing itself. The citrus trees have bulked up (although the grapefruit is suffering from every disease known to citrus), the climbing rose has reached the edge of its frame and the honeysuckle has made it to base camp at the top of the sandstone wall. By next summer it might have covered those ugly concrete blocks.

SONY DSC

It’s time to pull up the last of the weeds and put down compost; prune the hydrangea; spread mulch and, when the last leaves have fallen from the plum tree in the front garden, unfold the step ladder  and climb up to lop the long branches. In spring there will be blossom to bring indoors.

Winter doesn’t always arrive at the right time, or leave come to that. To any deciduous friends facing what feels like it could be a long winter, I suggest you hunker down, rest up and remember spring will surely follow.

When it does, we will blossom.

 

 

17 comments on “Who needs winter?

  1. Val Lord
    June 13, 2014

    I hear you Deb “I need winter”..me too! This living where to us there is no change in temperature…unreal…I can’t wait for the frost on the ground, the chopping of wood, the stoking of the fire, a glass of red in hand, dogs laying at my feet as we take in the warmth of the fireplace…bring it on!! Only about another year to go!

    Like

    • debhuntinbrokenhill
      June 13, 2014

      Aren’t we contrary creatures though? If I had TOO much winter I’d be begging for spring! Look forward to your return to Oz

      Like

  2. Eliza Waters
    June 13, 2014

    I am definitely deciduous! I like to hunker down come the cooler weather and cozy up to the wood stove. I welcome the break from gardening, but our winter is too long by a couple of months. My buds sprout well before the warm weather returns!

    Like

    • debhuntinbrokenhill
      June 13, 2014

      Eliza I’m with you. If I could physically hibernate I’m sure I would. And those places which experience what I still think of as a ‘proper’ winter would probably all like to shorten it! Enjoy your summer 🙂

      Like

  3. candidkay
    June 13, 2014

    “It’s time to pause. I’ve had my finger on the fast forward button for so long – get rid of the boring bits, show me the highlights NOW – that I’m in danger of forgetting to look back and appreciate how far I’ve come.” Brilliant! When my mother was dying, the doctor told us that it might not look like she was doing much–she was unconscious a lot–but that she was doing the hard inner work she needed to do to let go. I guess winter is a time when we can allow bits to die, those that must, and make room for new sprouts. A good way to think of it.

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    • debhuntinbrokenhill
      June 13, 2014

      Thank you for your comments Kay and what a thoughtful doctor you must have had with you when your mother was dying. It sounds like such a sensitive way of looking at the approach of death. Your comment about winter being a time when we can allow bits to die will stay with me as I contemplate what I would like to leave behind this winter, in order to make room for something new. Thanks Kay 🙂

      Like

  4. nantubre
    June 13, 2014

    What? It’s winter now for you?

    Like

    • debhuntinbrokenhill
      June 13, 2014

      Yes Nan, although you’d be hard pressed to notice when you compare our winter here in Sydney with your winter!

      Like

  5. Django Zazou
    June 13, 2014

    I saw that pic and thought it looked strangely familiar. It should: it’s the view from my bedroom window! We didn’t have snow like that this year, and although when it’s here it quickly goes from postcard to pain-in-the-arse, nonetheless I do miss it. Winter without it seems like a great long smear of brown, but happily the summer months are here now, and maybe that might even mean summer weather – eventually!

    Like

    • debhuntinbrokenhill
      June 13, 2014

      Hello Django, hope you don’t mind me using your beautiful pic! I can imagine those long drawn-out summer evenings you must be enjoying in the far north of England now, hope the sun eventually comes out to play too!

      Like

  6. bkpyett
    June 13, 2014

    Love your look at hibernation and winter, makes sense to rest, I do think that is a great idea!!

    Like

    • debhuntinbrokenhill
      June 16, 2014

      Thanks Barbara, having posted about needing a rest it sort of rejuvenated me and I spent the entire weekend gardening!

      Like

  7. entwinedlife
    June 13, 2014

    Hi Deb –
    You just answered my question about Winter in Sydney. And I have just written words of renewal…
    Same page again!

    Look forward to more! Jayme

    Like

  8. monsoonwendy
    June 14, 2014

    Loved this post so much Deb. Incredibly, in an email to another friend I was talking about how I needed a pause button. Talk about a message from the universe! So….this weekend….here’s to pausing. Love you, Wendy

    Like

    • debhuntinbrokenhill
      June 16, 2014

      Thx Wendy. Sometimes, even when that pause button is right there in front of me, I can’t press it for fear I might be slacking! There goes that Protestant guilt ethic again. So having written about the need to pause I then spent the entire weekend gardening, but it was ‘good’ gardening – slow, meditative, peaceful and restorative. Love you too and hope you enjoyed your pause!

      Like

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This entry was posted on June 12, 2014 by and tagged , , , , , , , , .

I'm a writer based in Australia with a passion for gardening, remote places and people with a story to tell.

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