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7 Signs Spring is Here

What are the signs spring is here for you? Is it the footy grand final? Father’s Day? The first whiff of jasmine. An echidna on the move? The first buzz of a blow fly?

Or is it when the spring blossom lines suburban streets and their gentle waves of petals lap at the shores of springtime. We did a whip around the dinner table and this is what we thought.

Get your picnic baskets ready, here comes spring!

1. Freesia

Yes a very usual suspect! The first freesia spotted dotting the verge and overhanging the gutter is cause for celebration. The smell from the boring little common white one is unforgettable. Picking a posy and handing it to Mum is an annual ritual that I have passed onto my children. Life’s good like that, isn’t it? Grow from a handful of tiny bulbs, you can literally just throw them at the soil and they'll thrive, appearing every spring, forever.


Everybody's favourite spring sentinel, the freesia. Photo - Sergey Moskvitin/

2. Flowering Quince

Often mistaken for cherry blossom, this shrub is in the same family. Born of bare stems they come in either red, white or pink. I’m sure they could withstand an intergalactic explosion, they’re indestructible and yet fragile all once. Known also as Japonica (Chaenomeles japonica) they are thorny unsocial plants, so place them to prevent burglars and uninvited guests.


I'm sure the Flowering Quince could withstand an intergalactic explosion. 

3. Magnolia

Have you had enough of magnolia yet? We haven’t. They are just too good to be true. Shaped like goblets, flutes or butterflies, they range in colour from shiraz, to ivory, lemon and every shade of pink. Now is the time to buy one, in flower, so you know what you get. Most of us can only fit one, so choose wisely.


Too much Magnolia is never enough. Photo - Nailia Schwarz/ 

4. Plum blossom

Hello gentle waves of flower lapping at the shore of springtime. Hello black-leaved cherry-plum blossom. What a mouthful. This sweet tree often lines streets in older suburbs. She reminds me of walking to school in the seventies. Gee that makes me sound old. She’s timeless and again indestructible. She's called Prunus cerasifera nigra.


Plum blossom. Photo - Matej Kastelic/ 

5. Pride of Madiera

Not only are these shrubs good fillers, bulking up to a generous 2 x 2.5m, they tolerate salt, sand, heat and dry. They attract bees and butterflies and their handsome form, colour and shape suits most styles of garden (if you like purple). The flowers, well they’re the cherry on the cake, often reaching 3 feet up into the air in the most brilliant shade of purple. Funnily they are related to Patterson’s Curse, look closely and you’ll see the resemblance. (Echium fastuosum syn. E. candicans)


No, it's not Patterson's Curse, but it is a close relation. Pride of Madiera. Photo - Romiana Lee/

6. Jasmine

When I was ten I loved getting a scratch-n-sniff sticker from my teacher. What a reward! Some lasted well after the actual sticker itself had rubbed off – they were little miracles, those ones. Crazy smells, my favourite was dill pickle. Still is. No wonder I got into horticulture. Free sniff games to play every day with a walk around the garden. The best smell now is Jasmine (Jasminum polyanthum). No arguments here I imagine. The weird thing is that this unobtrusive little tramp-of-a-vine literally throws its scent at you, reaching 100m to lure in its insect pollinators. So I say, grab it, pull it towards you, cut armfuls and drape it all over your house, your chandeliers, your four-poster bed. It’s a thing. And this thing lasts a week. And you can measure this thing with how many years you have left on this planet.


I can't imagine spring without jasmine. Photo - Nailia Schwarz/

7. Dutch Iris

The best value bulbs are indeed bulbs once planted are never touched again, only to grow bigger and wider with more and more flowers each year. Oh happy day! We have delicious clumps of these plonked throughout the garden, they come up through other plants, So what! They last 4 weeks and disappear from whence they came. Blue, purple and white with yellow wings. Buy bulbs mail order come autumn.


Dutch Iris. Photo - Wendy Meder/