Derek – Thursday 25th April 2019

It’s 15ºC and overcast. Pleasant when the sun is out and a little chilly when it’s in the clouds. Fairly quiet today. One group of nursery children from Maryland Children’s Centre haven’t come, although we had about eight children from Durning Hall, who haven’t been here before. The adults with them said they had enjoyed the visit will come again.

The blossom on the large cherry has almost all gone from the tree, scattered and trodden like slush on the ground, as the canopy fills with leaves. The Japanese celebrate the time of cherry blossom. But don’t hang about; it’s a short flowering.

The wild flower bed is doing well in spite of the dryness. There’s the first bright orange Californian poppies, bright blue borage, pink campion and anchusa. There was a little rain yesterday, but it’s made next to no difference. The soil in pots and raised beds is dry. The sedums in the new bed though are cheerful; they don’t expect rain. We do a lot of watering, but at this rate our water butts will soon be empty.

A major effect of climate change in the UK is drier summers. This though is still spring. Last year, I noted we had 58 days without rain, from the end of May to the early August. Is that the pattern to come?

The buddleia is healthy in spite of the dry soil. And the hollyhocks are in full leaf. There are few insects about, apart from lots of bees drinking at the pond. I don’t see any adult water boatmen today. Have they been eaten too? I am told of a magpie eating tadpoles in a back garden pond. I dare say water boatmen wouldn’t go amiss, too, in the avian diet. There’s pond skaters on the surface, bouncing along as if there’s a rubber skin.

I see no butterflies today. A run of dry days cuts down insect numbers in the garden. And they are too low anyway. While it’s true some insects are a nuisance such as midges and flies, others like blackfly are major pests, but still others are responsible for pollination of our food crops. Last year, the journal Biological Conservation reported that insects numbers are massively down worldwide. This inevitably leads to losses, down the food chain, of birds, reptiles, amphibians and mammals too. We are killing the planet with our unrestrained use of pesticides as Extinction Rebellion have been making clear in their demo.

As if climate change is not enough.

There’s lots of bird song in and around the garden. I see a robin by the back stage; they are less timid than other birds. The sycamore poking over the fence is popular with birds. Is that a wren? I spot the small bird through the foliage but it is away too soon. That’s the problem with bird watching, unless you are in a hide, they don’t stick around. Could also have been a goldcrest which is the smallest British bird, marginally smaller than a wren.
There’s an attractive cultivated cranesbill with purple and white flowers growing in a tyre near the children’s area. These are a variety of geranium, not to be confused with pelargoniums which we too readily call geraniums to the annoyance of botanists.

The wind chimes are now hanging from the arch to the back stage area. Out in the open, the breeze catches them, and fingers too give them a flick. Only one side of this willow arch has taken. Perhaps it’ll go all the way round. Or maybe we should take some willow cuttings, start them off in the greenhouse and have another go.

Comments 1

  1. Thanks Derek, I can’t get to the Garden at the moment but your description is almost as good as being there. Better in some ways as you know the proper names of insects and plants. Until now I have been calling pondskaters waterboatmen!

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