Derek – Friday 19th November 2021

We have got our 2m strip back from Gateway. This was ‘loaned’ to the site as they needed it for access for their building work. For us it meant flipping over our roofed pergola, and moving any plants in pots. Plants growing along the boundary in the ground such as ash and Russian vine were lost.

Our re-acquired ground is currently covered in artificial turf, going from the front door to the container. Our plan is to make a wider pergola, the one we have now plus the artificial turfed area, which could be used as a teaching space. The wide pergola, with the increased roof area, will drain into our new metre cube, giving us a large reservoir in dry times. The work to widen the pergola will start early in the new year. For now, we are putting larger pots on the artificial turf to break up its blandness.

The front of the strip, behind the fence on Earlham Grove, will serve as our area for bins, bike racks, and baby buggy park. Along the boundary, by our container, we’ll be levelling the ground for a workbench, which can double as a refreshment table at events.

The cherry tree at the front of the garden has bright yellow leaves. There is the odd red tinge, but I note the spectacular reds are on the ground with the fallen leaves. The colour change is part of the decaying process. The chlorophyll cells in the leaves die, going from green to yellow, and then the red coming out as these colours fade. Finally the leaves go brown when they are completely lifeless.

I tour the garden to look at plants that keep their leaves. There are conifers, either dwarf varieties or confined in their pots, mostly cypress. There’s the ice plant, Sedum spectabile, here and there. It has cabbage-like rosettes of foliage, and has just finished flowering. We have Sedum spatulifolium in our succulent bed, its leaf clusters like knots.

We lost a lot of ivy in the last month or so as next door’s fence went up, but we still have some remaining. It is a survivor. There’s bergenia, commonly called pig-squeak, because if you rub one of the large leaves between forefinger and thumb you get a squeaking sound. Privet, the remnant of the hedge when this site was a house and garden, is in various places along the fences. We have holly, though few berries, and spiky yuccas demanding a sword fight. It is the exemplar of a desert plant.

By the compost bins is a green and yellow Euonymus japonicus, and next to it an Euphorbia characias with its bluish green, thin linear foliage. If there were a competition in the garden (and I the judge), it would be my winner.

COP26 is already fading. Drilling licenses for oil are being granted in the Gulf of Mexico. It is business as usual, along with floods in British Columbia, the same places where they had temperatures near 50 degrees in the summer.

More hopefully, a company in Israel is working to make artificial milk. This is not to be confused with oat or almond ‘milk’. Cows make milk from grass, but with an awful lot of wastage, much of it methane, a greenhouse gas around 80 times more powerful than CO2. The Israeli company, Imagindairy, is working on cutting out the cows. They will make milk proteins (whey and casein) from fungi and various microorganisms. They will then add plant-based fat and sugar. Imagindairy claim the pollution from its milk will be 1% of a cow’s mighty hoofprint. They hope to be on the market in two years.

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