August is here and it is birthday month. First is Chie, Martins wife of 10 months who is looking after our accounts, then mine then Di's and then my mother's. It is also that month where spring is here then not here and so many plants are just waiting for those first warm nights. Those sunny days where the temperature slips over 20C, the sun is out for 8 or 9 hours and the night time temperature doesn't dip below 10C. This is when the plants come to life, all the new buds start to burst, the wattle is in full flower and the spring bulbs start show themselves.
As nursery operators we wait nervously to see which way the weather is going to go. Over the years I have been watching the Melbourne weather and we seem to run on a seven day cycle from mid August to mid January. Every week these cold fronts move through. Sometimes they are severe and delivery nasty, cold wet conditions and other times they are mild and just dump a load of rain. However they are 6-8 days apart and if the first one around mid August comes through on the weekend the rest will also. Last year they came through on Wednesday or Thursday leaving us with beautiful weekends and nice moist soil.
The fine weekends and mild temperatures meant we all had a good spring. I hope we have the same again in 2015. This leaves us with the other questions, have we got enough stock on the ground? Have we got too much? Have we grown the right varieties? Are the home gardeners going to want some new plant trend or will they stick with the old classics? Will one of the gardening gurus display a beautiful garden with one of their favorite plants that suddenly becomes this year's must have?
Last night we, like a lot of Australians watched the final of Masterchef 2015. First it was great to watch a competition with so much positive emotion. There were none of those bitchy contestants that the producers develop so we can all hate and wish to fail. There were none of those 'poor me' I have had such a hard life I deserve to win contestants. The finalist were just simple, honest people with a passion for food and a cool temperament under extreme pressure. However who would have guessed that one of our garden favorites,Salvia elegans or Pineapple Sage would be front and centre? I bet there will be a lot of people asking about this plant on the weekend.
Even with all these fluctuations in demand we still find our best selling plants are old stalwarts like French Lavender, Nandina, Buxus etc. Photinia 'Red Robin' is one of these. It rarely seems to make a splash in magazines or on TV, it is not a huge landscape plant but year in, year out it just keeps selling. It is a tough long lived plant that just looks good, is easy to grow and is recognisable. I bet it is also a standard seller in Europe, USA, NZ and most other temperate regions. I just wish we had more of these types of plants.
I wonder how many of this year's new releases will still be as popular in ten years, after the hype has all gone. We introduced a couple in mid nineties that have just spread over the country and are still two of the best in their style. Lavandula 'Avonview' has become the bench mark for ornamental lavenders and sells tens of thousands each year and Sisyrinchium 'Devon Skies' which is just one of the prettiest ground covers.
It is August and the weather is warming which is good after what has been Melbourne's coldest July for over 20 years. I saw a headline that said it was only 14C in Darwin one day last month. I think that was a day when their low was above our maximum but they still thought it was far too cold for comfort. Which is a funny concept as it is just what you are used to. I did hear one radio caller saying that she was hanging out for summer but knows that by mid January she will be wishing it was winter again.
Seems like waste of energy waiting for different weather. First we can't change it and second life is too short to be bothered by it. If it is cold put on more clothing, if it is hot wear less. If it is raining use an umbrella or rain coat and if it is too sunny stay in the shade. Remember there is nearly always someone who is hotter or colder than you and they are dealing with it. So just dress for whatever the weather is and get on with life.
We need to concentrate on the really important things in life: Will we win the Ashes?, Will St Kilda make the finals in 2016? Can we keep Collingwood out of the finals in 2015? Will Melbourne Storm make the NRL finals this year? It is also time to start planning for our Herb and Chilli Festival 2016. We had a great festival this year and are already getting enquiries for stalls. Graham Ross and his team were there on the Saturday and filmed a great clip for the June 26 episode of Better Homes and Gardens. If you missed it you can follow this link and see the whole clip. There are of course a few adds to sit through first but it is worth it: https://au.lifestyle.yahoo.com/better-homes-gardens/tv-and-video/video/watch/28572046/chilli-festival-victoria/ What surprised us was the number of hits on the website in the 20 minutes after the clip went to air. The website wasn't mentioned so people must have been watching the TV with their Ipads and Smartphones at the ready. As soon as they saw something of interest they were 'googling it'.
We do live in a new world. Have a great August and lets prepare for a busy spring.