Saturday 1 April 2023
Forest Gate Community Garden
It’s cold, with a biting wind. I look at the tadpoles in the pond; the mass of them are clustered under water over the remnant of the jelly. I am surprised they are not nearer the surface. Are they clustering to keep warm? I would expect them all over the pond in large numbers, but there are just a few outside the mass, here and there.
The pigeons muscle out other birds in our bird feeders. The others have to rush in between pigeon forays. Outside my window on Earlham Grove, there’s an ash tree with pigeons eating the buds. In our garden, there’s the cherry tree, but I haven’t seen the pigeons going for its buds. Perhaps the food in the feeder is so much more nutritious that they don’t bother with the buds. Or ash is nicer.
The willow tree is always the first in leaf, and obliges this year. The silver birch too is in leaf, tiny as yet, not that the leaves get any great size. Last week, there were only male catkins, yellow like dangling earrings. But all of a sudden, the female catkins have arrived. They are reddish, quite a bit smaller. Pollination for the birch is via a combination of wind and insects.
Here and there, in pots, are the blue grape hyacinths. Actually, neither grape nor hyacinth. The clusters of flowers are tiny bell-shaped blooms, but look spherical like minute grapes. Hyacinths, I suppose, because of the spike of florets. They are Muscari; I can’t say which species.
It has been a wet March, the wettest since 1981, following on from the driest February in 30 years. Dry Februaries are no problem, as it is usually cold with not much growing, so little need for water. March has more than made up for the dry month preceding it. Our barrels are full to the brim. A man popped in to say he has another IBC. Did we want it? These are the large plastic cubes we have in the garden, roughly one metre cubes. We have three, he’s offering another. He’s a wine importer, he says, and still has to finish off the wine. I hesitate to accept the offer and refer him to someone else. Where will we put it?
Last week, Thames Water came and informed us that the small manhole in the street, by our sycamore, is connected to the mains. Surprising us, as we were expecting a hefty connection fee to the middle of the road. Just inside our fence, about three inches down, we found a large, rectangular metal plate. When lifted, we saw lead piping obviously connected to the street manhole. Fine on one level, the connection, but we are concerned about the lead pipe. Is the water OK for drinking? I have just looked this up on Thames Water. They say there is little risk, but perhaps we should get it replaced anyway. Thames say they will come and check for contamination. Watering the plants is no problem, whatever the pipes are, nor with hand-washing, but if we wanted the water for drinking, then we should be more cautious. And get Thames Water to test samples.
The green Euphorbia (Euphorbia characias) by the wooden fence and bathtub is in bloom. The pale green flowers are clusters of tiny trumpets. It is quite a show, not objecting to the chill or all the rain we’ve been having. Though they are drought resistant. A common name is Mediterranean spurge, and in that region, it is a necessity to thrive in dry seasons.
In the greenhouse an aloe vera is about to flower. There are two flower spikes ready to pop in a few days. Our greenhouse can be quite dull, so that will be a novelty.
Next Saturday, April 8, we have our fair, Welcoming Spring, with food, music and egg hunts for the children, for it falls over the Easter weekend. Come one, come all.