Derek – Thursday 27th September

A bright sunny afternoon, 23ºC, following a chilly morning. The autumnal equinox was on Sunday (23 September). Now the days grow shorter until late December. The sun rose at five to seven this morning; so late, no wonder the morning was cold. But a great afternoon and, in the sunshine, the garden fills with mothers and toddlers, a few dads, and primary school kids. It is quite a bustle, with so many taking advantage of the lovely afternoon, knowing we won’t get many more this year.

I check our sundial. Not to be relied on to catch a train, even with Forest Gate station just a few minutes away. It’s difficult to tell the time to less than ten minutes accuracy. On top of that the earth’s orbit is elliptical. That horrified Johannes Kepler, in the early 17th century, when he discovered the fact, as he so badly wanted the planetary orbits to be perfect circles. Being an ellipse makes sundials up to 15 minutes out, depending on the time of year. So, if using our sundial to catch a train, my advice is allow 20 minutes. And run.

It is certainly spider time, with lots of webs about the garden. Most of those mid web, rather than behind a leaf, are garden spiders (Araneus diadematus). They have yellow and black stripy legs, and less visible stripes on the body. There are plenty of bees too making the most of the remaining flowers: tall verbena, various herbs, hellebores, and a few coreopsis.

The buddleia has been cut down. A little early perhaps, but it’s an arduous job and we had to take advantage of the extra volunteers we had last Friday. The play house is now visible, and popular today. Several of the children are playing a game, involving locking each other in. But they can easily get their finger between the door and the jamb to flip up the latch. It makes a useless jail-house.
The leaves on the sycamore, poking over the fence at the front of the container, are crinkling, going yellow and brown. The tree is sprinkled with a frosting of Russian vine, that vigorous climber, also known as mile-a-minute plant, running up the sides and even over the top of the tree.

The water iris seed-heads are open, dropping seeds onto the pond surface. They are small, brown discs. Perhaps the frogs play roulette in the night. I see a few water boatman which swim just under the water utilising the surface tension, but also an insect on the top surface. It’s not a pond skater. Might it be a water measurer? There’s small brown larva swimming by stretching and U-ing, a centimetre or so under the pond surface. I think it’s a dixa midge larva, whose adult is a mosquito looking fly, without the bite.

The greenhouse at the back of the container has, at last, its full frame. It has been quite a jigsaw puzzle, with the pieces having options on how they fit. A heroic effort in assemblage. We are going to use perspex sheets for the ‘glass’. And with luck it will be in use by the spring.

As we are closing the garden, mothers and toddlers gone, I see a robin by the side gate, always one of the boldest birds. Are we its territory? You are welcome.

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