Think local ... Dr Entwisle in the Botanic Gardens.

Think local ... Dr Entwisle in the Botanic Gardens. Photo: James Brickwood

TO AN amateur, the eruption of flowers around Sydney in the past few weeks might suggest spring has already sprung. But the flowers are not early, the seasons are just late, says botanist Tim Entwisle.

''The seasons we use in Sydney and Australia are seasons that we have imported from Europe and those four seasons don't make a lot of sense in this country,'' said Dr Entwisle, the executive director of the Botanic Gardens Trust, Sydney.

Plants such as magnolias, boronias and early orchids always flower in August, he said.

''Not only do our gardens start to come out into flower but the Australian bushland starts to come out, particularly the wattles. So many different wattles start to flower in August.''

Dr Entwisle suggested Australia adopt up to five seasons, which reflect changes in the local environment, particularly the plant world.

An early spring, which he has nicknamed ''sprinter'', would begin in August and run through September; October and November would become a pre-summer called ''sprummer'', while summer would span December through to March.

Autumn and winter would last only two months each, running April to May and June to July respectively.

In the past, Aborigines had six to eight seasons.

''Anyone who has lived on this land for more than a few hundred years has realised that those four seasons don't make sense,'' he said.

Although most people considered seasons a cultural phenomenon, they needed to reflect the local environment to ensure subtle changes due to climate change could be detected.

''There is good evidence around the world to say spring is coming early in a lot of places and in Australia we need to know what we mean by that,'' Dr Entwisle said.

A plant physiologist, Russell Sinclair, agreed that the current seasons don't make much sense and added that the climate and environment differed around the country