Derek – Friday 12th November 2021

It has been a typical November week, with rain and temperatures slightly above average, and lots of leaf fall. Most fall this month, some in October, a few in the first week of December, but November is the month when the mass comes down.

Most of the fallen leaves, so far, are from the big sycamore which still has quite a few remaining. Many of its leaves have tar spot, black circular spots on the yellow of the leaf, reminding me of dominoes. It is a harmless fungal disease which affects other acers too.

The birch has reputation to keep and is holding onto its leaves. I have noted in previous years it is one of the last to go. Partly, I suspect, because the leaves are small and so are less likely to be blown off by high winds. The cherry tree at the front is also hanging on to its leaves. They can turn a brilliant red which is not so noticeable this year.

Yellow, red and browny-orange are the autumn colours. The ginger cat, now a regular visitor, fits the colour scheme. A couple of months ago, it was wary of us, but it has realised we are no threat and mostly ignores us, as cats do, as it stalks the garden. We cannot see what holds its attention, insects most likely, though from time to time it rushes into a shrubbery, perhaps at the sight of a mouse.

The coral berry (Symphoricarpos orbiculatus), by the big sycamore, has its purple berries, though you have to look closely to find them in the foliage. The shrub is in the same genus as the snowberry (Symphoricarpos albus) whose white berries are more conspicuous. White is an unusual colour for berries, the only other I have come across is the white berried Skimmia japonica. Red, purple and black are the common colours.

COP26 is coming to an end. Greta Thunberg calls it a failure and the Guardian headline today is: Cop climate targets are too weak to avoid disaster. It seems everybody is waiting for everybody else. ‘Why should we hit our industries when you lot aren’t?’

The government that most appals me is Australia’s. The country has suffered extended droughts with crop failures and dried up rivers, along with forest fires consuming whole towns. Yet Scott Morrison, the prime minister, referring to coal, said in September, ‘We will keep mining the resources that we’re able to sell on the world market.’ A head-in-the-sand statement, when Australia should be at the forefront of countries exhorting the world to keep global heating down.

On TV on Wednesday was a programme called Life at 50ºC. In Mauritania in West Africa, a herder was feeding his goats on cardboard; there was no grass. I was particularly struck by the situation in Kuwait. It is a rich Gulf State, where most people have air conditioning. But to go out, a woman said, she has to turn on the air conditioning in her car 20 minutes beforehand and put ice on the seats. Her young son wanted to go to the playground, but as soon as they got there, it was too hot to stay. Kuwait’s major export is oil. What can one add?

We have been kindly donated some trees, shrubs and herbaceous perennials including wisteria, forsythia, hydrangea, magnolia, lilac, crocosmia, arum lily and clematis. Most of which we’ll plant about the garden. We are, though, having a tree giveaway on Friday 4 and Saturday 5 December. Do come and get one. Plant a tree to suck in some of that carbon.

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