Derek – Thursday 19th September 2019

This weekend is the Autumn Equinox when we have 12 hours day and 12 hours night. After the equinox, night wins out until the shortest day in late December. The already longer nights give us chilly mornings, although it is very pleasant when I arrive at 2pm.

Waiting for me is a wheelbarrow of grass and other weeds pulled out of the beds at the Learning Zone last night. The other option was to bin the weeds, which is not only a waste of green matter, but it would end up in landfill, where with less oxygen it would give off methane as it decays, a greenhouse gas roughly 30 times more potent than carbon dioxide as a heat trapping gas. Much better to put the weeds on our compost heap.

This has been a very dry month, and we are almost out of water. We have one full barrel left, the others are empty, even the metre cube is almost drained out. Many of our plants are gasping, and we wonder about getting more water as in a few days there’ll be none. There’s the Fire Brigade option, and we consider the site next door, now ultra busy with big cranes and diggers, and connected to the water mains.

The pond is so low, we think about covering it to reduce evaporation. But then it won’t get rain water, and surely it must rain soon. This is autumn, in England. Surely?

There’s a few flowers hanging on: lychnis, verbena, marigolds, California poppies, gazanias, achillea, dahlias and Japanese anemones. The list makes it sound like the garden is full of colour, but they are scattered, and diluted considerably by greenery.

The yucca by the door fence at the rear is a hangout for spiders on autumn days. The leaves are long, stiff spears, good attachment for a web. I see three garden spiders there in their orb webs. Another yucca, not far away, but in full sun, has no spiders. They like the shade; it is cooler and they are less visible to birds.

We begin the long job of cutting back our buddleia jungle with secateurs and loppers. And do maybe a fifth of it. There’s no rush as the work can be continued through the autumn and winter. The long stems we trim, to use as garden stakes next season.

Tomorrow is Climate Strike day. School children will be going on strike and there are various actions up and down the country for their elders, as well as actions across the globe. The garden’s policy is to encourage activities that mitigate climate change. Nationally and internationally, we are not taking climate change seriously, hence the need to get on the streets.

There are now 409 parts per million of CO2 in the atmosphere. A year ago, it was 405 ppm, ten years back 385 ppm (figures from today’s Guardian). Individually and collectively, we have to raise climate change high up the agenda, if we are not to condemn the younger generation to a lot of misery.

Tomorrow, I’m going with Barbara to the London in Bloom Awards at the Arts Pavilion in Mile End. London in Bloom came to assess us in early July. I have no idea how we’ll do. We could do well, we could be one of the many also rans. I’ll tell you in the next blog.

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