Derek – Friday 4th June 2021

It has rained all morning and much of the afternoon. Although May was very wet, the rain stopped in the last week of the month, and the temperature climbed to the mid 20s at the beginning of this week. Such hot, dry weather threatened to dessicate seedlings in our wildflower bed, and dry out our raised beds and pots, large and small. So we have been watering this week, right up to today’s deluge.

Maybe we could have got away without the watering, but you never can be sure with weather as any farmer will tell you. We have a water tap, but wonder if we’ll lose it as it comes courtesy of Gateway next door. In the next couple of months, the Gateway site will be getting its first residents. When the builders go, no more raging machinery and cement lorries, will we lose our tap, and be back to struggling through dry weeks, getting dribs and drabs from friends and neighbours?

Or will they leave it in place?

The pond irises are in full bloom. No shortage of water there, the dry week lost the pond an inch or so, but the flags are deep down, a proud yellow, signalling long summer days. There are fat tadpoles around but a large drop in numbers. I have noted this in previous seasons. Where, oh where, do they all go? It is unlikely they are all culled by predators. If that is so, that leaves disease and whatever weakness to cut short their lives, akin to a miscarriage, as tadpoles can be envisaged as the frog’s embryo stage.

It’s been half term this week, so no Kay Rowe children have been in. Next week, they’ll come again. The art class has a regular Sunday afternoon session. I popped in to water Americana, and noted how they welcomed the warm weather, but like wild swimmers, they had braved the cold days too. *Ars longa, vita brevis*. A garden makes one philosophical. All that growing, maturing, dying off, new life in its season. We play a cack-handed god on this small stage.

There are a few pink hybrid tea roses out in the arch over the centre seat. They are part of the Rosaceae family, mostly recognisable by five-petalled flowers. But not these multi-petalled blooms. Breeding and polyploidy have multiplied the petals from the basic form.

Other Rosaceae members in the garden are apple, pear, plum (poking over the fence), hawthorn, bramble, alchemilla and Herb Bennet. The latter is also known as St Benedict’s herb, which accounts for the Bennet appellation. And then one thinks, why St Benedict. Answers disappear in the mists of antiquity.

By the mid stage are two huge pale pink peonies, like a bundle of crinkled serviettes. It is way too much; the stalks can hardly hold them up. I go for the smaller flowers, like Herb Robert (who was Robert?), with its small pink flowers, growing here and there about the garden. I used to like anchusa with its forget-me-not like blue florets, but there is so much of it. It is a bully, and I pull some out of the wildflower bed to give the rest a chance.

Near the rose arch are two very tall purple irises, like Edwardian ladies with their large hats. I am surprised by the small cherry in the children’s area. It has cherries. I thought it was ornamental, and sterile like its big brother. Not that many, and as yet they are green like small olives. I’m sure the birds will get them before we do.

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