Derek – Sunday 27th November 2022

Leaves are falling. The few left in the cherry tree are yellow and red. A fierce wind will clear the branches. The sycamore is two-thirds gone, its yellow leaves continually swept off the paths. Its helicopter seeds are scattered, like invading forces threatening to overwhelm us by sheer numbers.

Our birch still has its leaves. The small leaves are less vulnerable to the winds, unlike the wide sycamore leaves, so it has a few more weeks of life, but by early December all will be gone. On Woodgrange Road, the liquidambar trees are impressive, their three-fingered leaves yellow and red on our busy high street. Amidst the traffic and shoppers, I suspect few notice them.

We have been pulling up anchusa (aka alkanet). It is deep-rooted and fast-growing. We are not wooed by its forget-me-not type flowers, as it squeezes out other plants when it colonises flower beds. If the garden were left to its own devices, there would be sycamore competing with buddleia and anchusa, and little else.

Thames Water have withdrawn their hosepipe ban after a drenching two months. The garden has hosepipes, but nothing to attach them to. We are awaiting a quote from Thames Water for putting in a standpipe, as the way things are going, hot dry summers are on the cards. COP27 was a flop, with fossil fuel interests taking up too much of the agenda. Even claiming that gas was green because it is not as bad as coal, which is like saying being caged with a rattlesnake is safer than being caged with a tiger. Well, the tiger is roaring, the snake is spitting. No one sincerely believes we can limit global warming to 1.5 degrees.

The pond is, of course, full to the brim. No animal life is apparent apart from immobile snails. In one corner, a stand of papyrus is doing well, able to keep growing in spite of the falling temperatures. Deadheading a marigold, a large frog bounds out and sits on the path, as if immobility would save it from a predator. We may yet see tadpoles in the pond in the spring. I should hold off my bet with William Hill.

In the Fothergill raised bed, daffodil bulbs are coming up. A few flowers hang on, the perennial marigold, a few Japanese anemones, the odd rose here and there, valerian and pelargonium. The acanthus has a dome of deep green leaves like an igloo. In summer, the leaves will be munched by snails back to the stalks, but it is chilly and the snails are dormant in spite of all the rain. So the succulent leaves survive.

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