Story telling from Australia
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?
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.
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.