Derek – Thursday 16th August

It is raining as I get the key for the garden from Durning Hall. We’ve had it all morning, but as I am walking to the side gate of the garden, the rain stops. A pleasant coincidence. I open the door, and am hit by greenness. The garden has grabbed the rain and light, and come to life.

I go to the pond, definitely higher, fresher, vibrant with plant life. The water is a faint green, which says microscopic algae. But I look for animal life and, apart from water snails, I can’t see it. No frogs, no water boatmen, not even daphnia. Larvae lurk beneath the water plants, I’m sure, but I wonder about the rest.

I tie back the hollyhocks at the back of the pond, a job left over from last week when it was raining. Nearby a yellow honeysuckle is in bloom, but there are only a few remaining flowers in the garden. The coreopsis by the book corner are still going strong. There are a few lychnis flowers. The plant is closely related to the campions. Look closely at the purple flowers and you can see the family connection with red campion, long gone in our wild flower bed.

A few monbretia blooms by the main door. I learn it should be called crocosmia, but it took me long enough to learn montbretia. Naming, and renaming, is an International committee thing. I am way behind.

Our water butts are pretty full and we decant four buckets full out of the bulging canvas over the back stage. And then I look for flowers around the garden. There’s a few hawkweed in the small wildflower bed. In appearance, it’s like a tall, untidy dandelion. I hope it’s a hawkweed; there are so many related plants in its sector of the compositae, so difficult to tell apart.

A campanula is flowering by the fast fading globe thistle. As I look closely, I take in the spearmint smell from the nearby plants. I spot a single micklemas daisy, near the compost heap. It’s not a flower I like much, they do take over if you let them. There’s not a lot else in bloom but plenty of seedheads. We have the spikes of the teasels, the pod-like iris seedheads, and the heads of the phlomis (Jerusalem sage) which remind me of lawyers’ wigs.

There’s something wrong with our pear tree. Some of the leaves are curling, a few are black, others have black patches. It could be as simple as slow drainage in the container, an effect of all the rain we’ve had today, or a more serious virus. One to watch. The tree though has a good crop of fruit. Still hard, like the ones you get from the Co-op and have to leave for a week before eating.

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