Saturday, 21 June 2014


 It’s winter, it’s cold at last, but it’s been balmy (with more records broken) until very recently, and not a hint of frost. Climate change? Maybe. I think so.
The string of warm weather in autumn was enjoyable but the effect on gardens was interesting. Some trees – a few - sported autumn leaves in May; many (most it seems) are doing it now, at last – in late June; it’s utterly bizarre. May and June also saw some strange spring blooms I can’t recall flowering at this time before, notably Viburnum plicatum.
It’s the shortest day, so I shall go out and look at this phenomenon with interest.
I see the usual suspects: flourishes of candy-pink Bergenia; camellias getting into full swing; grevilleas flowering like there’s no tomorrow.
But also: Elms with about a third of their foliage clinging on, chartreuse, tattered (strange); A few lilac tree dahlias flowers still, not all beaten by the few cool nights; loads of salvias; and the start of the colourful hellebores, perhaps a little early – by several weeks (in my garden), that’s all.
I’ve only gardened seriously for about 24 years – not long! – and odd spring flowers are one of the delights of a Melbourne winter (although a little less common up here in the foothills of the Dandenong Ranges). But these persistent – and very beautiful - autumn leaves on most of our deciduous trees are simply extraordinary. And frankly, a little scary.

Jill Weatherhead  is horticulturist, garden designer and principal at Jill Weatherhead  Garden Design who lives in the Dandenong Ranges east of Melbourne, and works throughout Victoria (

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