Derek – Thursday 25th July 2019

The hottest day of the year, peaking at 37ºC in the garden. It’s a record for July in the UK (38.1ºC in Cambridge) but that’s no cause for celebration. These hot days are a prelude of what is to come, payback for our reliance on fossil fuels, on our meat consumption and the population increase. The UK climate is becoming like the Mediterranean with hot, dry summers. In a few decades, these exceptional summer temperatures will be the everyday as the carbon dioxide in the atmosphere continues to rise.
Climate Emergency.

Get out there with Extinction Rebellion, join Greta Thunberg and forswear flying, go veggie.

It all depends on you.

We have few visitors this afternoon. Those at home are slumped out, drinking cool drinks in front of fans. We work slowly, finding you get accustomed to the high temperature. Though we are not digging roads, but tying hollyhocks and watering. We have a lot of tomato plants in small pots. Most of these were donated, friends giving us their seedling surplus. Some we have sold off on our fortnightly stall at the Sebert market. But we have around twenty left over, and these will not sell. You buy tomato plants in May and June, not late July. So we decide to pot them on.

There’s a broken wheelbarrow. We fill it with compost and put in five tomato plants, spaced out, each with a stick. The wheelbarrow has a cracked bottom, fine for drainage. We have lots of empty largish containers, about two litres capacity, which held bird seed. We pierce the base with a nail and hammer. And transplant more tomato seedlings.

Cabbage white butterflies are flitting in and out of the buddleia. I glimpse a painted lady butterfly, wings orange, a flutter of black white and red. There’s bramble scrambling over our fence full of ripe blackberries. Vitamin C for free, and sweet too. We’ll get some before the birds have them. I hear the cheep of sparrows in the sycamore by the front of the container, but I can’t see them amidst the leaves intermingled with the white florets of Russian vine.

I am minded how we give plants nationalities: California poppies, French marigolds and French beans. There is a Mexican bush (a type of salvia), Spanish onions (and French ones), Chinese cabbage, Chilean bell flower, Spanish bluebells, Himalayan balsam, Canary Island ivy, Persian ivy. I could search the index of a flora and find lots more I am sure. The country appellations are rather hit and miss, often one country from a wider region. Botanists have to be internationalists in their nomenclature, though the California poppy is Eschscholzia californica. I have remarked before on the six consonants of Eschscholzia. It looks like a typo, but it is, in fact, named after the 19th century German botanist Johann von Eschscholtz.

The pond is very low, at least a foot below its spring height, and a murky greenish brown. There are snails and waterboatmen. I can’t see any other fauna apart from the honeybees, always buzzing at one end. There’s a single water lily close to flowering.

We close early as no one is about this hot day.

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