Much of the country receives its maximum rainfall in midsummer, so although the weather in June, July and August can be very warm, it can also be unpredictable. For more settled weather with sunshine and comfortable temperatures, late spring and early autumn – May, September and early October – are the best time to visit: the Germans don’t call the harvest season “goldener Oktober” for nothing. The ski season in the Alps runs between Christmas and the end of March. Germany’s climate straddles the maritime climates of the western European seaboard and the more extreme conditions found further east. The prevailing wind is from the west, so that the mild climate of the Rhineland and North Sea coast quite closely resembles that of the UK or Ireland. Winters are more severe further east, while heading south the effects of steadily increasing altitude ensure Munich’s summers are no warmer than those of Berlin. The balmiest climate in Germany is found in the wine-growing southwest, where it’s not unusual to see lavender, Mediterranean pine, almond and even lemon trees.