Derek – Friday 25th March 2022

We’ve had some very warm days for the time of year, touching 20 degrees. There’s lots of wriggling in the frog spawn. Heat accelerates hatching time, as the various chemical reactions are sped up. I wonder how much of the mass is unfertilized. Some to be sure, with so much of it, and fertilization such a hit or miss affair. The male squirts his sperm on the eggs, some which are bound to miss out. But any leftovers will soon be munched by dragonfly larvae, water boatmen, and birds. There are snails amongst the spawn but commentators say they don’t eat the spawn but any algae around, being strictly plant eaters.

I spot a coloured butterfly, but it won’t stay still. Could be a painted lady or a red admiral, the former more likely. There’s a couple of blue tits in the sycamore and the elder by it. I am watching one of them, it is so speedy, only on a branch for a few seconds. And suddenly the bird disappears. Where has it gone? There’s a nesting box on the fence, could it have gone inside? I watch it for a minute or so, and out it comes. I suspect it was just curiosity, maybe the smell of past visitors, or could this be an inspection prior to moving in?

The spiraea has come into bloom, with its masses of tiny white flowers. Always quite a show. The daffodils are fading, some still bright but others beginning to shrivel.

There’s willow flowers in the willows about the garden. Willows are dioecious, which means male and female flowers on separate plants. The ones by the greenhouse are male, quite furry but not enough to be called pussy willows. Willows are in the genus salix, which makes me think of the Yeats poem, Down by the Salley Gardens. I used to think it was short for Salvation Army, but no, it’s for the willows growing there.

In the tin bathtub where we had dwarf irises, their place has been taken by purple tulips. Outside the tub but overhanging there’s a euphorbia with its cluster of green flowers. I know it from past years, it is long flowering, one of those reliable perennials.

About ten days ago, I found sand splattered on my bedroom window, and on the flat roof outside. It had come from the Sahara carried on winds. Many locals have noted it on their cars. The sand is high in the sky, and is washed down by rain. The rain dries out, leaving a dusting of fine sand. The Met Office says such sand from the Sahara is a regular occurrence, but I am awestruck the sand has come so far, 1500 to 2000 miles. I look around the garden to see if we have any. I look on the greenhouse windows, but can’t tell if there’s grains of sand or just regular grime. I might find some on top of the container, but reject that as a hassle. I give up, but while looking at the pond, searching for newts, I see a fine dust on the surface. I have found Sahara dust.

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