Days warm and the rain comes in fits and bursts. In fact, crazy November weather days can be hot, stormy, wet or full of pollen, giving folks with asthma an extra spring challenge. This is when the Orion constellation is setting in the western sky around sunrise. We are on Kulin Country, and right now is the local indigenous season of  Buath Gurru – Season of flowering grasses.

Kangaroo and wallaby grasses at our place bend gently together as the weather builds before rain. This season we are careful to check the doggos paws for grass seeds.

Over the years of migrants calling Australia home, we have brought cultural notions of season with us from other places. To really connect with our green spaces, and adjust what those seasons describe, it is helpful to understand what is really happening across the country we are on. To do that, local indigenous seasons are super helpful. They and the influence of climate change together surely give us the best guidance about growing food and gardens where we live here in cool temperate western central Victoria.

Wherever you are in Australia, please do seek out knowledge of local seasons.

The signs of Buath Gurru

Local Buliyong (microbats) are catching insects in flight. You may see them just after dusk. ‘Balayang’, the indigenous creation being brother to Bunjil the wedgetail, is also referred to as the bat, and features in first peoples’ stories at this time of year.

Male Common Brown butterflies are flying up in the tree canopies and also right down amongst the kangaroo grass right now, and in our area of Victoria, are likely the most common native butterfly you’ll see in the garden this month.

Coranderrk (Victorian Christmas Bush, Prostanthera lasianthos) is coming into flower.

Cherry ballarts are fruiting, with their fascinating structure of a dark seed perched on the end of the fruit flesh rather than inside it. They fruit in multicolours – orange, pink, red and purple, on the one bush. So beautiful.

Kookaburras call at dawn and dusk, marking out their family plot proudly, with breeding now in full swing. In favourable conditions Kookaburras can live for more than 20 years and have the same partner for life.

Buath Gurru in our garden

  • Flowering grasses means potent pollen abundance – if you get hayfever, it will really kick in this month.
  • Tempestuous weather can be a pain with young seedlings around, especially if they have been transplanted recently; keep an eye on weather reports. A plastic planter pot with the base cut out is handy to push down over young plants for extra protection.
  • Securing garden items at night is a good idea too.
  • Hot days happen in this season, but many plants are not yet strong enough to withstand it. Some hession sheets or bags can be great temporary heat shade held up with short canes.
  • Early tomato flowers can be pollinated effectively by seasonal winds this month, getting a jump on early nightshade treats.
  • The changing climate is intensifying storm activity, with wind speeds really up a gear. If you have tall trees with canopies way up higher than the surrounding rooftops, they may take an increasing beating. The combination of drought years followed by high winds may spell trouble for trees, as their outer rootplate can die back, leaving not much holding them physically in the ground.  We have found some success, rather than removing trees altogether, taking the canopy down to roof height, and thinning out bulk and dead wood, to catch less wind and reduce the weight burden on trees in those storms. Perhaps chat to your local arborist about how you might be able to preemptively reduce the canopy height and bulk of trees at your place and manage the regrowth.

There is a lot to learn yet about Murnong Yam Daisy, a staple starch of our first people in Australia. Once prolific across the country, our local species here are Microseris walteri and Microseris scapigera. Late Spring is said to be peak harvest time for Murnong, which could be loosely described as native parsnip. We are growing both local species here at our place to help researchers increase stocks of local seed, toward making a start at some level of revegetation in future projects. We also have found M. scapigera wild here on our block, which is a wonderful treat.  You can read more about this plant in these local resources:
Friends of Geelong Botanic Gardens
Murnong – the local staple
Fed Uni Murnong Project