Derek – Thursday 13th June 2019

The afternoon is chilly, around 14ºC, and breezy, making it feel even colder. It had just stopped raining when I arrived. The sky is still grey and glowering. I know we will have few visitors.

Last Thursday, we were worrying about the lack of water in our barrels, after three dry weeks. But from then on, it rained almost every day. On some days for six hours or more. From the height of the pond, I calculate we’ve had about two inches of rain in the week. That’s the average *monthly*rainfall in the south east.

I take a spade and I dig into a bare patch of earth. I want to know how far into the soil the rain has penetrated. At spade depth, about 8 inches, the soil is still damp. The rain has permeated deep down, which is good for the longer term as it will take longer to dry out. All the plants in the garden have perked up. I recall last week, the small cherry by the children’s area was suffering, the valerian beginning to curl, and the herbs in the tyres shrivelling. All are now in good health.

The monkey flower on the ledge of the pond is in full bloom, its yellow, snapdragon-like flowers almost alight. There are no pond skaters on the surface. I suspect rain drives them away as it breaks up the surface they glide on. There’s only a couple of bees from the hive attempting to drink. They don’t like rain either. Or the cold.

The giant scabious near the pond are over seven feet tall. The hollyhocks in the same bed are a few feet lower but prolific too. This bed is the smaller wild flower bed, but I doubt many can compete with such rampant neighbours.

The California poppies in the wild flower bed are closed because of the cold, the red poppies too. I have been bothered by the tall daisy-like flowers in the bed. I have been calling them ox eye daisies, but the flowers aren’t big enough, though at two feet high they are tall enough. The leaves are wrong. I scour my wild flower books. They belong to the family Compositae which includes the daisies, dandelions and chrysanthemums. The head we take as the flower is actually composed of many florets. Each floret produces just one seed. Take a closer look at a fairy from a dandelion clock. At the tip you’ll see a single seed.

Compositae are a huge family, over 25,000 worldwide. So easy to confuse individual members. The best I can do with the wrongly named ox eye daisies, is rename them scentless mayweed and hope I am now correct. They don’t have a smell and the leaf is the same. The flower is like too many other flowers of the family.

Throughout the afternoon, we hear the two huge earth movers next door. I look over the fence. The machines are flattening the area and digging out concrete with their great arms and attached buckets. I wonder at the cost of hiring those dinosaurs for a day. Must be many hundreds with a driver too. They started work on Monday, the beginning of Gateway Housing Association’s work, which is expected to take two years.

There are two other developers who own neighbouring sites. Having ruined our high street, they are too busy looking for opportunities to sell on at a profit to be bothered with such trivia as building.

Near the container in a raised bed are a group of poppyheads, flowers that have gone to seed. They look to me like a crowd of dolls demonstrating. For the vote, I am inclined to think, as the few poppies in flower are like the hats on Edwardian women.

Over the afternoon, we move water from full barrels to empty ones, and water the plants in the greenhouse and those undercover. The weather doesn’t improve. It remains chilly and drizzly, and we close the garden at four.

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