Derek – Thursday 18th July 2019

It rained this morning, not a lot, a few millimetres, but enough to liven the plants for the day. And limit our watering to the greenhouse plants and those under the pergola walkway. The month has been very dry; we have come in during the evenings to water, especially those plants in pots which dry out quickest. Last night, the forsythia near the big sycamore was wilting, its leaves forlorn, but looking OK today.

The pond is so low. It’s a greeny brown colour, concentrated, not healthy at all with so little water. Quite pathetic. We have not added any water to it, reluctant as we are to add tap water, but if the rains don’t come, we will have to. This dryness makes me feel like a Woody Guthrie character in the Oklahoma dustbowl. Time to load the truck and head off to California to pick peaches and fight the Pinkerton men?

There’s a great show of yellow hollyhocks in the raised bed in front of the buddleia. They are over six feet tall. But the show-off buddleia are twice the height, in full purple flower, the florets making up the lance-like flower. There are cabbage white butterflies dotted about, plenty of nectar for them here. Over the fence, in Durning Hall’s former site, is a white flowered buddleia, competing with ours for height and flowers.

And over that fence, two earth-movers push soil around Gateway’s site. There are three blue containers for the workers. All this is preparatory work, without a brick or concrete being laid. It is surprising how long this has been going on. They are one of our options for water should the drought continue.

There’s a small vine under the pergola. I note it has its first miniature grapes, perhaps ten in all, hardly enough for a fruit salad. But there’s other fruit too, small apples and pears from our fruit trees which will ripen late August. I sample a few blackberries from the bramble coming over the fence, and try an apricot, hanging over the fence of doors. A little hard, not bad though.

The wild flower bed is very wild, great for insects, all sorts of bees and butterflies. I note bumble bees, honey bees and solitary bees. Hoverflies too, some of which look so like bees. It’s a defence mechanism to discourage birds. Such smart mimicry. In the bed are lots of wild carrot, hawkweed (dandelion-like flower), thistles, California poppies, and common fleabane, a yellow daisy type flower.

Blue globe thistles are popular with bumble bees in a raised bed with various mints. They are so round and prickly, almost like tiny blue planets, which reminds me of the moon landing. 50 years ago, July 20 1969, Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin were the first humans to set foot on our barren neighbour, with Michael Collins in orbit, patiently waiting for the moon lander to take off again and dock with the command module for the journey home.

I listen for birds, and don’t hear them. They are not seeking mates or battling for territory, so why sing?

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