Derek – Friday 19th August 2022

It feels like autumn in the garden. There’s lots of leaf fall and leaves on the sycamore and birch are yellowing. This is the effect of heat and drought. The trees are distressed. Getting rid of leaves helps alleviate water shortage, but it is at a cost as the early shutdown of photosynthesis means less stored sugar going into next year. But it’s now that counts, let the future take care of itself, as all living things behave in response to hardship.

We hoped the drought was over, with rain on Tuesday and Wednesday in the week, but it doesn’t appear to be so with little sign of rain in the next week or so. Possibly some in the next few days: will it miss us?

The low pond is crammed with elodea and hornwort, so jammed that you can see little in the water. Are there newts there, or some undeveloped tadpoles? Impossible to see in the cram of foliage. I am told adult frogs are in the pond. I saw one a couple of weeks ago, but none today, nor any froglets, so tiny and vulnerable, and with this dry weather to boot, how can they survive?

There’s lots of helicopters on the sycamore, all but ripe with just a suggestion of green, ready to be flung by the wind about the garden and further afield. There are many seedheads, always a sign of autumn: on the hollyhocks and the globe thistles, for example. The latter has had a short flowering season due to the heat, a great pity as I love the intense blue of the prickly globes. The buddleia of course remains in flower. What a survivor, a Darwinian force, evolved to grow quickly, to get its roots deep down to find the water and set myriad seeds. A garden escape from the 1890s, it loves it here. A plant both admired and hated. Chop it back hard in autumn or it will overwhelm you.

We have apples and pears on our dwarf fruit trees. They add colour to a sparse garden. We are preparing to crowdfund for a mains tap. First step is to get a quote from Thames Water. We expect 3 to 4 thousand pounds, and hope it’s not a shocker beyond these figures. It is a small signifier of how we have to adapt to climate change, as well as doing what we can to keep down the greenhouse gases invading our atmosphere.

There are few insects in the garden. Lack of water has culled them. This should also be the beginning of spider time with lots of webs about the garden. But there are few; heat and drought has severely diminished their numbers.

There are some tiny bunches of grapes on the vine under the small pergola. We have kept them watered. Not enough for Earlham 22 vintage. We live in hope.

Near the globe thistles a lone pink flowers steadfastly, a deep crimson. I deadhead marigolds to keep them coming, so we have a little colour in the garden.

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