Derek – Thursday 21st June

Another warm summer’s day, which is not as good as it sounds, even with the sunshine, as we have had no rain at all this month. The garden is gasping, especially problematic as we have no running water. For the past couple of weeks we have been discussing what to do in case of drought. And now we are in the midst of one. The forecast for the week ahead is more dry, sunny weather.

Enough already!

The day is saved by Steve, who lives on Earlham Grove. He offers to take our flatbed truck, along with various large containers and fill them up with water from his outside tap. Gladly, we take up the offer. He returns half an hour later, adding his own full (with water) wheelie bin to the mix. Over the next hour, we use up all this water, concentrating on pots, small containers and raised beds. It isn’t enough, but will have to do. Steve says he’ll do the same tomorrow.

Any professional rain dancers on the mailing list?

A lorry load of woodchip comes in, dumped just inside the front gates. A huge heap of it, from a tree gang, chipped in their machine from a tree they have cut that morning. It takes us several hours to clear enough of the woodchip away from the gates so they will open and shut. The woodchip will be laid on our soil paths, a sort of mulch, to keep down weeds.

The hollyhocks are out this week: yellow and pink, in various places in the garden. Snails love their leaves, eating slimy holes, but the plants survive.

There’s ragwort in the wild flower bed, at head height with yellow, daisy like flowers. There’s fat hen too, along with the poppies and ox eye daisies. And the thistles with their patina of black fly.

In the pond, I watch the few tadpoles we have; none yet have legs. There are many water boatmen, but no pond skaters at all this summer. I wonder if it is connected to the crisis in insect numbers, thought to be caused by pesticides on crops. It affects whole food chains, from birds to frogs whose numbers are falling as there is less food to maintain them.

I spot a broad-bodied chaser dragonfly by the pond, and nearby, in a blackberry flower, there’s a hoverfly, one of the Eupeodes. Don’t ask me which; they are too similar. Hoverflies often mimic bees or wasps in appearance, a strategy to discourage birds from eating them. There’s also a swollen-thighed beetle (Oedemera nobilis), without swollen thighs, as it is a female. I see a cabbage white, but no other butterflies.

I have been busy today and haven’t noticed birds at all. It is so easy not to notice them. You have to actively look.

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