Derek – Thursday 16th May 2019

It’s warm and sunny today, with a mostly blue sky. Volunteers and visitors are in a good mood in the spring sunshine. The garden is busy, there are parents with toddlers, some with pushchairs, and volunteers who have been to the Methodist Church on Woodgrange. The community centre is due for demolition and we have been given permission to take any plants we want from their garden. Our squad brings back two wheelbarrows’ full, comprising irises, yucca, wisteria, roses, marigolds and a few others. We can’t leave them to dry out and so set to planting them. Some into pots, others here and there where we can find spaces. We water them in. It’s likely some will die, as it is not a good time for transplanting. The best time is the colder months when the plant is dormant. But we don’t have the choice. It’s take them now or lose them. We’ll cross our fingers and keep watering.

We water too the plants in the greenhouse. Many are in small pots and it certainly heats up in there. There’ll be lots for sale at our plant stall over the next few weeks, the bumper time for plant sales.

The level in our water barrels is going down quickly. Working in a garden, with no running water, makes one very aware how dependent we are on water. There’s no life without it. We have more succulent beds than last year. Succulents are thick leaved plants which are more resistant to drought. But they make up no more than 5% of the garden. Last year, the drought began at the end May and lasted until early August. It’s impossible to predict how this summer will go. Could be rained out, could have another drought. Whatever we get, we’ll have to manage.

Today is full on spring, with many flowers in bloom around the garden, the warmth and last week’s rain bringing them out. There’s a patch of herb robert by the container door, a mass of small pink flowers amongst light green foliage. Someone will class it as a weed and rip it out, the pessimist in me says. I dislike the appellation ‘weed’. It damns too many plants unthinkingly.

There’s white stocks in the bed near the centre bower, and a crimson, blousy paeony near the birch tree. There’s hedge mustard with its tiny yellow florets in the wild flower bed and some by the book shed too. There’s a single foxglove in the raised bed at the side of the pond, with its spike of pink and white flowers, the insides speckled. It would have to be the tiniest of foxes to get its paw inside. More suitable for a rabbit or hare.

The first water irises are out in the pond, yellow with droopy ears. There are many juvenile water boatmen darting about the pond, growing week by week. On the surface, we still have pond skaters, fewer than last week. I’ve given up on seeing any tadpoles. Two water lily leaves have reached the surface, a third close. The leaves lay on the water like green and purple islands, visited by pond skaters and insects that fly in. Soon we’ll have the first water lily, that most perfect of flowers. They don’t last long, a few days, but they keep coming over the summer.

I stand near the birdbox on the sycamore and listen. There’s squawking from inside, which means the eggs have hatched. But I don’t see the parent blue tits going in and out. I hope it’s simply that I’ve missed them.

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