Derek – Thursday 20th September

It is mild in the garden, about 20ºC, the skies threatening rain without delivering. Over night, the wind has blown down the large gazebo between the nursery and the pond. The billowing canvas has the power of a sail and its thrashing snapped one of the poles, bent another, and broke a joint fitting. We take the gazebo down. It is the end, becoming more obvious as it is disassembled, ending up like an adult Meccano with its poles, screws and nuts.

The small wild flower bed is all seed-heads apart from a few hawkweed, hedge mustard and California poppies. The golden rod is still in flower near the container, and by the middle gate there’s a couple of scabious and white hellebores. On Saturday, the raised bed close by had been cleared ready for succulents. Rocks and stones had been put out in a neat Stonehenge pattern. But it has been ravaged. Soil was scattered over the stones and holes have been dug at the corners. The likely culprit is a fox.

The olive tree, which never looked well, is looking particularly sickly with its curled leaves. I am sure its broken roots have not connected with the soil and it is slowly dying. I feel sorry for it, a strange anthropomorphic sentiment. The tree has no feelings, no concept of pain, of life or death. It’s just what we hang on it. Like Prince Charles talking to his flowers.

The pond is cloudy with algae. There are sprinklings of daphnae but no sign of last week’s solitary water lily. There are a few water boatmen swimming just below they surface. They have compound eyes, like most insects, which don’t see detail, but any quick movement and they dive swiftly away. If you want to photograph one, you must move very slowly closer. Speed up and it will dive.

Autumn is a time of spiders. I see a number of garden spiders with long hairy legs, in the centre of their webs. And a wolf spider too. Most spiders die in the winter, but by then the females will have laid a sac of eggs. These hatch in spring, and the tiny spiders grow to adulthood by late summer and autumn, which is why there are so many spiders now in the garden.

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