In the mid eighties I lived for a year in San Diego where 'it never rains southern California'. Yes it was pleasant living in a world where you could plan an outdoor function six months or even four years ahead and be confident it would be fine weather. I lived on the beach at La Jolla and it never dropped below 15C and never got over 28C. After about six months I really missed the changes in weather. I was hanging out for a decent storm, some cool weather and even some wind.
I am sitting here in the cold Melbourne weather and looking forward to a fine weekend. Thinking it would be nice to be in Port Douglas enjoying a warm sunny day then I remember how nice it is to have seasons. I look out the window and see the colours of the deciduous trees and the rich green of the smaller shrubs after a decent rain. San Diego was nice but away from the home garden was quite barren and harsh.
A couple of years ago we were talking to a landscaper from southern Norway and he was saying that his winter drops to minus 20C. We thought that was cold but his friend from the north says winter was down to -25C. Our reply was 'what's the difference?' and he said a lot. To him the difference between 30 and 40 is minimal, but we know it is huge. It is all about what you get used to.
The reality though is to enjoy what we have. You will adjust your life to what you have around you. It is the people that make your life, not the weather, not the local politics and not the local shops. It is the local sporting club, the local service club and your friends and family. It is what you do with your time that gives the greatest rewards. At the IPPS conference in Newcastle Wes Fleming opened the proceedings with a discussion of his involvement at the Chelsea Flower Show and how it has taken him down a path of understanding of the importance of plants to our communities. During his presentation he also said that the plants are important but it was how we related to the plants and how they effected our lives that was most important.
We in the garden industry have always known that plants are important to a healthy life style. However this was a hard message to sell. Some people grabbed the concept quickly and found enjoyment and health in their gardens but many did not. In Europe renters will often plant, maintain and beautify their gardens because they get benefit from it. However in Australia there is a feeling that this only benefits the landlord so they let the garden fall away.
With the boom in edible gardening the health benefits are becoming more obvious. People are seeing that producing their own food has health benefits that are not just 'chemical free'. The satisfaction of growing your own and the reduction in stress and tension from spending time in the garden is improving their life balance. Once a garden is looking good and producing food and flowers and natural pesticides people will spend more time there, They will also use it a s a discussion point and a meeting place with other like minded individuals. It is a place where quality time can be spent with the children doing things that are fun and healthy. Even on a cold winter's day the garden is a great place to just sit and share a cup of tea, a fresh coffee or glass of wine.
Going back to the start it is the changing season that really give pleasure to the home gardener. It means the garden is always looking new. There are always new colours, scents and sounds to 'feel'. There is a never ending parade of changing food and herbs that taste their best when eaten as they ripen. It is a well accepted premise that the best way to manage our diet is to eat what is in season, as it ripens naturally. It tastes best and uses the least amount of energy to produce and distribute it.
Wes' message to constantly promote the use of plants to improve our lives and benefit out relationships with people is a good one and as an industry we should get behind it. "Gardening is good for your health", " "Hit the G-spot - Get Gardening" and "Grow Healthy - Grow it at Home" are three catch phrases that could help make our world a better place.