Derek – Friday 8th April 2022

This weather is typical of April, see-saw temperatures, chilly followed by warmth and back to chilly. ‘Don’t shed a clout till May is out,’ goes the old saw. It is not referring to the month but to the may tree (hawthorn) which will flower in late April, depending on the weather. If we took it as the actual month, we’d be wearing our winter woollies until the beginning of June.

Which brings up the other misunderstood ‘may’ reference: Here we go gathering nuts in may. Well, you won’t find any nuts in May, they are autumn fruits. A few hundred years ago, people brought ‘knots of may’ into their houses and churches, bunches of hawthorn flowers.

A shrub which has flowers like the hawthorn is the spiraea with its sprays of tiny flowers. A striking sight as you enter the garden. We have apple and pear blossom around. The white cherry is in bloom near the front of the garden, the pink cherry nearby would like it a little warmer.

There are so many tadpoles in the pond, mostly clustered around their jelly from which they have hatched. They are eating the remnant of yolk from their eggs. After a week or so, they will be eating algae, tiny plants in the water or attached to larger plants and stones. Once they have developed back legs, they begin to become carnivorous, eating small insects and water fleas. Ours are mostly still in clusters, but very soon they’ll be all over the pond.

Our new pergola has been built. It doubles the size of the existing one and runs parallel to the Gateway wall. Yet to be added is the guttering and downpipe which will enable us to collect runoff water from the new roof. Water we will be needing, though we’ve had welcome rain this week. Climate change is telling us we are going to have dryer summers. Let’s hope not too dry as we are dependent on the water we collect.

In the next few weeks, our wooden fence comes down. It has been up since 2016, and recently suffered in the high winds of storm Eunice. The old fence will be replaced by a metal, see through fence. We crowdfunded for this, getting in about £5000. Thank you to all contributors. With an addition from Gateway, we have enough money for the new fence. It will be interesting, the effect of being more visible. Will that bring in more people?

The Herbs and Spices project is underway. Already on the sleepers between the pond and the greenhouse are: mint, marjoram, herb germander, sage, chives, rosemary, bay, parsley and lemon balm. There will be others to join them: ginger, mustard, dill, camomile, cumin and fenugreek.

Herbs have many different uses: flavouring for cooking, dyes, cosmetics, teas, and herbal remedies. Too many for the project, so we are concentrating on the culinary uses. The definition of a herb in everyday parlance is a non-woody annual or perennial whose leaves or flowers we use in the above ways. If it’s woody and the usage is not leaves or flowers, then it’s a spice, such as ginger where we use the root, or pepper the seeds. Bay leaves you might call herbs, as we use the leaves in soups and stews, but they come from the bay tree (woody), so fit it where you will, I won’t argue.

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