A whisper from the woods

Ask me (almost) anything, May 2022

May 13, 2022

Recently, we asked Mark to tell us more about the different seasons. We were curious about how the seasons impact planting.

Mark commented that, although he is not a weather expert, he is happy to share his experience in Australia. To help us understand this subject better, Mark wrote the following article. He cautioned that this information only “Scratches the surface” of the topic.

“My Country: its climate, weather, and environment for trees”

In 1904, Dorothea Mackellar, aged 19, penned a poem called “My Country”. The second stanza depicts the most famous lines in Australian poetry. When I was young, every lower school child learned it by heart.

I love a sunburnt country,
A land of sweeping plains,
Of ragged mountain ranges,
Of droughts and flooding rains.
I love her far horizons,
I love her jewel-sea,
Her beauty and her terror –
The wide brown land for me!

The fourth line captures Australia’s climate character. Each year, some part of this huge continent is in drought or flood. This year is no exception, although, now, we call the weather a “La Niña” event.

A La Niña is when warm, moist air from South Asia draws down from the equator due to a cooler Pacific Ocean. It travels across the land from North-West to South-East bringing heavy downpours on a weekly cycle for about three to four months. These cycles are still occurring although they seem to be more frequent with climate change.

From our “European eyes,” Australians see climate as just the rise and fall in temperature and rainfall. We “see” four seasons, like in the Northern hemisphere. However, our Indigenous brothers and sisters were attuned to the weather. They understood six or seven seasons based on winds, plant growth, and food availability.

In my Southern mainland state of Victoria, we are now in mid-autumn. Victoria is on the same latitude in the Southern hemisphere as Sicily, Italy in the Northern hemisphere. The climate is called “Mediterranean” for that reason. However, it is difficult to compare our seasons with the rest of the planet.

Light rain falls every three-four days as low-pressure systems move from the West and the vast Indian Ocean. This rain is enough to spur the new grasses to germinate before the cold of July.

Our cold is nothing like Europe or America. The mean minimum daily temperatures only dip to about four to five degrees Celsius (40 degrees Fahrenheit). This means that trees can still actively keep growing.

We experience only light snowfalls. Frosts are mild, occasionally lasting for just a few hours.

In our peak summer of January and February, the heat, dry winds, and lack of rain cause many plants to cease active growth. Then, they hold on until the usually reliable autumn rain break in April.

Our typical planting season is early autumn for crops. Many vegetables can be planted all year in the open.

Autumn and spring are the main times for growing trees. On my land, if I take particular care, I can plant trees all year round. If I water them through summer, they can continue to grow despite the heat and wind.

With the changing climate, we are seeing many irregular fluctuations in our weather patterns with more extremes in rain and temperature, just like in other parts of the world. We shall have to see if our tree planting approach needs to change in the future.

Thank you for telling us about your country’s climate and environment, Mark! We appreciate learning from you!

Where in the world do you live? What climate do you experience in your country?
Please, tell us more in the comment section below so we can all learn!

A recent photo of Mark, planting trees in Australia.


Please share this. Thank you!

1 Comment

  1. Anrich Bester

    Thank you for sharing your experience, Mark!


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