Derek – Sunday 19th March 2023

I look at the frogspawn, the embryos are growing in the jelly. We might get the first tadpoles next weekend, if it doesn’t get cold again. We will have thousands of tadpoles, very popular with school visits. They begin as a large black patch on the jelly. If you look close, you see it’s made of hundreds of wriggling forms, eating what’s available before they venture into the expanse of the pond.

I spot an adult frog in the pond. It’s under water, so my photo of it is poor. I wonder why it is there. Has it come too late to find a partner? A newt larva has also been spotted. They are a lot larger than tadpoles, and the resemblance to adult newts can already be seen. This must be one from last year, which will fully mature this year.

Our magnolia is in flower. And it is white, not yellow, so my information last week was incorrect. It was most definitely yellow as the buds were swelling, leading me to think the flower would be yellow too. But no, the flowers are white, like most magnolias. So this is not Magnolia Yellow Bird, from Brooklyn botanical garden. A pity, as it is always interesting to know the parentage.

Around the garden are lots of daffodils, large ones and dwarf daffodils too. Their bright yellow is always heartening. There’s also grape hyacinth and the bergenia, just below the birch, in flower. Near the greenhouse, there’s a three-cornered leek in bloom. I call them white bluebells (no one else does), as they look so bluebell-like, apart from the colour. The stems are triangular in cross-section, which is unusual. Also called wild garlic, but that name is also given to ramsons, a different plant. They will be seen in woodlands in a few weeks’ time, often amid carpets of their white flowers.

It is spring, unarguably. We are very close to the spring equinox: 12 hours day and 12 hours night. From then on, the day wins out until we get to midsummer. It’s the beginning of astronomical spring (as opposed to meteorological spring, which always starts March 1). From the equinox, we can date Easter, a moveable feast. The first Friday after the full moon, following the equinox, is Good Friday. The next full moon will be on Thursday 6 April, so Good Friday will be on 7 April.

Thames Water are coming this week to give us a quote for a standpipe, as we’d like running water. It is quite likely we’ll have a drought this summer. Last year, we had about a month without rain. In 2018, we had two months with not a drop. Our barrels are full, but in a drought, they’ll be empty in three weeks. It is thought Thames Water could quote us the order of £4000, a pretty hefty sum. We’ll have to consider how long we have the garden for. Can we get an extension on the lease to make a standpipe worthwhile? And how do we raise the money? Though funding bodies often prefer to finance capital projects such as this, as they are one-offs and so don’t need future funds.

If we get a standpipe, our water bill is not likely to be great, as we’ll make full use of our water reserves before using it. Hand-washing and drinking water would be handy, but protecting the Garden plants is the main priority.

The plum trees over the fence at the end of the garden, by the pond, are a sprinkle of white blossom. I am keeping an eye on the cherry trees at the front. I have been surprised in the past how quickly their blossom comes. But with high winds, the pink blossom is soon scattered like a carpet of confetti below the tree.

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