image of a bulrush

Bulrush – Saturday 4th May, 2024

It’s a warm, sunny morning and I have come along to the garden overdressed. You are never quite sure what to wear this weather as it is so variable. April, they tell us, although feeling pretty chilly, was about average temperature for the time of year. But we have had strong winds and they whip the heat away making it feel colder than it is.

A group are working on the scrapheap challenge. This is to make features for the garden out of scrap material. You might see it as a green initiative as, other than for garden use, the scrap might go into landfill. Today’s though is quite a challenge. We have an old upright piano, which is no longer playable. We’ve had it a couple of years but it went downhill pretty fast, even though under cover, in the extremes of hot, cold, damp, and dryness in the garden. Some keys stuck, wouldn’t play, until it was no longer a useful instrument. The group are taking it apart. It is surprising how intricate a piano is, with its 88 keys, each with a hammer to a different length of string to give its sound. The strings are backed on the iron frame, which is why pianos are so heavy. There’s the woodwork, housing the instrument, the keyboard, and the three pedals. I see the piano being dismantled and wonder what the bits and pieces will become.

The Up Garden were on the One Show on BBC TV on April 30, having won the Growing Together competition. They were interviewed as various shots of The Up Garden were shown. But some of these shots were of Forest Gate Community Garden instead. No reference was made to us, so anyone watching would assume it was all The Up Garden. We did wonder why a BBC film crew visited us last week. It seems that film of The Up Garden and ourselves were jumbled by the film editors and all labelled The Up Garden. We have asked for an apology from the BBC. Some think we won’t get one or it will be one of those non apology apologies (‘We are sorry you feel let down…’), without admitting any wrongdoing themselves. We shall see.

In the wildflower bed a number of flowers are in bloom. We have the powerful yellow of the California poppy, the blue borage flowers, lots of buttercups and pink campion. We haven’t seeded the bed this year, so it will be interesting what comes through. Survival of the fittest.

The pond remains murky with algae, with algae growth on the sides too. There are tadpoles all over the pond. I cannot yet see any with back legs, the first external signs of their metamorphosis. They should come in the next week or two. The tadpoles are eating machines, consuming algae, to energise the development of skeleton, sex organs, limbs and muscle. They fascinate us in their three months of change, from fishlike tadpole to froglet.

About the pond, I see backswimmers which I really want to call water-boatmen as they are so like a rowing boat with oars, as I have done in the past. Next time I come I shall look for daphnia, as their plenitude is a sign of a healthy pond.

The first pond iris is in flower, and others are almost there. The bulrush is over a metre high, but has a fair way to go before we get that distinctive brown sausage of a head.

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