The bane of anyone living without a mulched garden particularly out of town would have to be dust. A car pulls up and the dust just keeps going. Open the car car door too quick and one breathes in ones own dust.

A chook having a dust bath becomes more like a dust shower. A month ago I noticed my dog walking along with a cloud of dust behind him. The crows fly backwards to keep the dust from getting in their eyes. I think I like dust. It’s Australian as blow flies around the barbie. The endless horizons, open clear skies and beautiful silence when one camps in the middle of nowhere.

What I like even more is those first few heavy drops of rain under a ominously dark sky making patterns in the dust. It is not so much the patterns as the smell. After a long dry spell (like months) the smell of rain on dusty earth is like having the strain of bearing a great weight lifted off your shoulders, straightening up and taking in a magnificent view that no one has ever seen.

Then I notice that dust coated plants are washed clean, the birds think it is Christmas all at once and ones mood lifts instantly. No one that lives in northern Europe could really understand. Maybe it could be similar to having months of snow, sleet, rain and heavy cloud and suddenly the sun coming out for a day or two.

For avid gardeners the effect is enhanced as we trundle around the garden to see not so subtle changes taking place. New growth appears. Buds appear where only days ago any growth was struggling. Then for the unprepared potential disaster strikes. WEEDS appear. For those who have not mulched, weeds will appear quicker than ants at a picnic. Attack them with all vigour before they nick all that unrestricted free water that now is in your soil ready to keep your desirable plants healthy.

Something else happens to avid gardeners after rain. The uncontrollable impulse to plant something. Anything. Now. The urge to put your hands into moist soil is almost irresistible. Ask any child. (Mine display this tendency, except with them it doesn’t stop at hands!)

This is the time that gardeners need a nice cup of tea and a plan. It is just too easy to buy and plant the first thing that tickles your fancy and then realise tens years later that perhaps the twenty metre tree next to the house wasn’t such a good idea after all.

So after your walk in or after the rain in the garden, go inside and take a piece of paper and make some notes about the sorts of plants you think you need and like. A plan for larger areas can be very handy when you are describing an area to someone else and seeking advice.

Yes, it is an excellent time to plant. I’d say any time is an excellent time to plant. As keen gardeners take the time as usual to enjoy your garden (and others) but also take the time to plan your next planting be it a single plant or a whole garden or the back paddock. So you can enjoy it even more next time we have a decent rain after a long dry spell.

This article first published in the Riverland Weekly © May 14, 2009.