Derek – Thursday 6th September

It is pleasant in the sun this afternoon but a little chilly when it clouds over. The wild flower bed has been cleared. Seeing it bare, I think it would make a good area for a sundial with the small stakes around it marking out the hours. It would still be a wild flower bed, but with an added feature. To test it as a sundial, we put in a temporary post for the gnomon, which is the part that casts the shadow. And mark off the hours of 2 pm, 3 pm and 4 pm on the appropriate posts. The sun is obliging, coming out as needed. There is the iron artefact, a bird on a post about 2 metres high with coloured streamers in the bed, which would make a good gnomon. I try to get it out of the ground to move it to where it is required but it is deeply embedded. I give up and will have a go next week.

We have been given a number of large clay containers. Some of these we have planted out with ferns, also donated. A number of the ferns will not survive as they were planted with too little root ball, after over enthusiastic splitting. In the summer months, herbaceous plants and shrubs must have a firm root ball if they are to be transplanted. Or they will die as the roots have not time to grow into the the soil to sustain the plant.

Children have gone back to school this week and we get a flurry of parents and children after 4 pm. Last summer, we closed at 4 pm and so had no after school visitors. So the later closing is proving worthwhile.

It has been a tough summer for flowering plants. Peak flowering was in June. The wild flower bed was spectacular. But the drought curtailed many blooms and now there are only a few flowers here and there. There are hellebores which we keep watered, and the golden rod in the centre is thriving. In the small wild flower bed, Californian poppies are coming again, and there’s yellow honeysuckle at the back, near the pond.

The pond has little visible activity. The only flowers are a few water forget-me-nots on the ledge. If you look carefully, you can see daphnae and and a few water boatmen. And of course, snails, easy to overlook as they are static. Last year, we had many pond skaters on the pond surface, this year I have seen only one, back in late spring.

There are lots of honey bees on the symphoricarpos bush (snowberry family) near the large sycamore. The flowers are tiny, but this time of year bees can’t be choosy. Flowering plants have evolved to offer nectar, a sugary liquid, to draw in bees and other insects. Pollen sticks to their bodies as they forage and is carried to other similar plants to fertilise them.

At the end of July, we had a few tomato plants, intended for sale, but which no one was going to buy so late in the year. So I planted half a dozen in a large plastic container. They are all plum tomatoes, green now, but we’ll likely get some ripe fruit in a week or so. Alongside is a tall, round tomato variety with ripe fruit. A little colour in all our greenery.

As I leave the garden, I spot a pot of golden marigolds, just outside the pergola. How did I miss them?

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