Derek – Friday 11th November 2022

We have had a lot of rain recently. October had over 100 mm, twice the usual rainfall. November too is giving us daily showers. All our water barrels are brimming, which is ironic, as when you have lots of water, you don’t need it. But Thames Water informs us the hosepipe ban is still on. Because it was so dry over the summer, the surface layers are soaking up the rain and too little is getting into the groundwater.

The weather is warmer than usual, during the day but especially at night. This time of year we should be expecting our firsts frosts, but night temperatures have been in the low teens. The Met Office say this is due to the jet stream bringing in warm air from Southern Europe. Seasonal mildness does bring in visitors to the garden. When it’s not raining.

Sophie’s funeral was last week at the City of London Cemetery in Aldersbrook. There were over 200 in attendance, all seats filled and many standing at the back and along the sides. Quite a number watched the ceremony online too. From the orations and the tears, it was obvious she was loved by family, friends and those she worked with. For my part, I feel the best of Sophie was yet to come in terms of service to the community and artistic achievement as she grew in confidence. But the sand in her hourglass ran through too quickly, so we must be grateful for what she achieved and for having known her. The community garden is creating a raised herb bed in her memory.

The sycamore still has most of its leaves, though they are turning yellow. They will all fall in the next few weeks assisted by high winds. There are signifiers of the seasons; for me it is winter when leaves are gone from the trees.

I see little animal life in the pond, beyond snails. There will be dragonfly and damselfly larvae in the mud at the bottom, dormant now. We get lots of backswimmers (aka water boatmen) in the warmer months, but they die off as it gets colder. Their eggs have been laid though, and we’ll get them again in the spring. I am curious how we’ll do for tadpoles in March. The summer heat must have killed off many developing frogs, who leave the pond in late spring. This should mean fewer coming back to breed, hence fewer tadpoles. I should put a bet on with William Hill.

We are in the midst of the 6th great extinction. The effect of the heat on frogs is a single example, from the many animals and plants who will be unable to adapt to climate change. It is already likely that we can say goodbye to 1.5ºC increase as fossil fuel usage rises.

The pond is higher, just four inches below the brim. In the heat of summer, the level had dropped more than a foot, with all the underwater plants squashed into the smaller volume. Now they have space again. Visitors often remark on the clearness of the water. This is due to the oxygenators, hornwort and elodea, which keep the water healthy for animal life and stop the water going murky and green.

There are a few flowers around in this mild weather. A couple of pelargoniums, Japanese anemones here and there, marigolds of course (deadhead them and they’ll last all year), giant scabious, and a single honeysuckle flower. There’s a cotoneaster, I haven’t noticed before, with clusters of bright red berries. Michaelmas daisies, here and there, are in seed, with heads like miniature dandelion clocks. And a vine, whose leaves blaze green, red and yellow as the life is drawn out of them.

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