Britain in Bloom are coming to judge us tomorrow. So we are having a tidy up. A lorry load of woodchip arrived yesterday, and today we wheelbarrow it around the garden, and spread it over the paths and between the raised beds. But all this tidying up sets me thinking.
We have put down more artificial grass by the side of the back staging. I become aware of how much we have of it, patches here and there. Why do we use it at all? Well, it covers bare earth, it is tidy, OK to sit on, and requires no maintenance or watering. But artificial grass is simply a plastic carpet. No plants can grow through it, and no bird is going to peck at it to find a worm. It is barren for bees and butterflies.
A garden good for wildlife has to have areas of untidy growth. But untidiness is anathema to some gardeners. I noticed this on our recent Garden Trail. Some gardens were clinically tidy to my mind, others more chaotic and intriguing.
Our garden is a compromise. We want spaces where people can sit and babies crawl. But we want wild flowers and wildlife too, and these are in opposition.
These are the days of the hollyhock. We have them in bloom around the pond and near the front of the container. Mostly yellow trumpets, but some pinkish blooms. The leaves have holes in them and snail trails, but the hollyhock flowers on in spite of these night munchers.
There’s acanthus by the side of buddleia. They have candelabras of white flowers with purple bracts, the leaves long and arching with deep inroads. The common name for the plant is bear’s breeches. I take a long look at the plant to get the reasoning for this appellation. And I can’t see it. I am reminded of constellations, like Ursa Major, which is nothing like a bear either.
The pond is low and green with algae. Water boatmen are everywhere. I search for water fleas but I don’t see any and suspect they have been eaten by the water boatmen. There are so many of them, I wonder if they will deplete their food supply and die off. Nature takes no prisoners.
The garden is so dry. The small cherry is gasping. We had a week of rain three weeks ago, but these hot days are drying off the remnant. We water and we water, mostly in the evenings. Today, it’s 27ºC. I am fearful we could be in for another drought like last year’s, which lasted for two months. Are hot dry summers now the pattern? Climate change hitting us.
All we can do is water, and keep alive what we can.