Sunday, June 14, 2009

Autumn in Australia

Australia is a pretty big country with a diverse range of climates. In the north there is basically summer and winter, better known as "the wet" and "the dry", but the further south you go, the more noticeable the four seasons become.
Here on the south coast of NSW, we experience a cool temperate climate with the seasons differentiated mainly by day length and temperature. There is no colour change in our native trees. And there are lots of them! Look at the picture of our area.

It's basically green all year round. If it weren't for the exotic deciduous trees that people have planted in their gardens and our grapevines we wouldn't have any 'autumn colour' at all.
Australia has only a a few winter deciduous trees. A number of eucalypts in the tropical north are deciduous in winter for a short period before the wet season, but they are basically drought deciduous. Two other trees that do lose their leaves in winter are the Red Cedar (Toona ciliata) and the White Cedar (Melia azedarach). Both of these grow in the subtropical rainforests of Queensland and New South Wales.
Some Australian trees can be partly deciduous in that they can lose foliage on a half or more of the tree just prior to flowering while retaining it on the other half. The Illawarra Flame Tree (Brachychiton acerifolius) is a good example of this. Sometimes it can be observed on the Silky Oak (Grevillea robusta).

In Tasmania there is a very rare tree called the Deciduous Beech (Nothofagus gunnii). It's the only deciduous native tree in Tasmania and is one of the oldest genera of flowering plants in the world with a fossil record stretching back 80 million years. It's regarded by scientists as one of the keys to understanding how vegetation evolved and migrated throughout the southern hemisphere.
However we can appreciate one of the many Liquid Ambers (Liquidamber styraciflua) the previous owners left in our garden (see above) as well as our vines at this time of year.
This means that pruning time is near and although the Cabernet has yet to lose all its leaves (above), the Semillon, Pinot Noir and Tempranillo already have and are ready for their annual haircut.

1 comment:

Yira said...

First off, It's just so strange to hear someone speaking of winter between the months of June through October. I am waiting for Summer, which seems to be sort of confused these days. We had 90 degrees, high humidity then 65 degrees, back up to 70...just crazy weather.

Second, that's beautiful country but I think I would miss the fall colors we get to see, particularly around the Blue Ridge Mountains in Virginia.

fyi: Another great article on Wine Tasting. Thanks, I uploaded it today!!