Derek – Thursday 26th August

At 34°C, it is the hottest day of the year. We collect water from Kevin, but don’t work too hard as we have sufficient for a few days, and it is too hot for extended exertion. We have had no rain since 29 May. I keep a journal and on that day, I wrote:

‘Lots of thunder and lightning, one blast so close it shook the house. We have had six hours of steady rain. I bet it filled the community garden pond.’

And so it had, to the brim. But that was eight dry weeks ago, and now the pond is very low. We have been adding water to it, and if we hadn’t it would have dried out. I look for the small frogs but I don’t see any. If they leave the pond, they will certainly die in this heat. Although they have lungs, frogs breathe partially through their skin which must stay moist.

A visitor remarks on how green the garden is. I am surprised as I don’t think it is that green, but these things are relative. And we certainly work to keep what we can alive and well. There are Californian poppies in bloom in both the wild flower beds, a few red poppies too. Apart from a scattering of camomile, the rest have gone to seed. In the smaller ones, there are rusty dangles of dock seedheads. A very metallic colour.

The hollyhocks continue to bloom, and the yellow coreopsis by the book shed. We have apples and pears on the fruit trees we planted last year. I count 17 pears on the pear tree. Nearby, in a tyre, oregano is in flower, with white florets. Lychnis, here and there about the garden, has been in bloom for over a month with its deep purple flowers. It is one of the first to suffer from water shortage. We water in the evening and the next day, it is wilting.

The globe thistles are the flower of the moment, enhanced by the nearby spearmint. There’s a single tiger lily, orange-red, in a raised bed near the container. In the raised bed next to it, all the plants died in the drought and we stripped it. We have planted instead various saxifrage. These plants in the wild grow in mountain regions and semi-desert. They have fleshy thick leaves with fewer stomata (holes for letting carbon dioxide in and oxygen out) and so lose less water.

In the buddleia jungle, by the play hut, a burdock is in flower. The blooms are purple, quite thistle like, but you can already see the burrs beneath the flowerhead. Fairly soon children (and gardeners) will unwittingly carry them off.

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