Derek – Thursday 9th August

It has rained all day. Our awnings are dripping into buckets which we add to the water butts. We watch the rain in fascination like children who are seeing snow for the first time. It has been ages since we’ve had a prolonged downpour. I stick a garden fork in the earth to see how far it has penetrated. Several inches. The leaves on plants are ringed with droplets, each elderberry holds a drop like a jewel with an upside-down view of the world. The garden has perked up, so welcome after all these dry days.

The pond is several centimetres higher; only yesterday I was thinking how pathetic it was, just a fifth of its May level. Of course, this rain may be a one-off, but we hope for more. It’s chilly too, such things are relative, no more than 20ºC, which means the soil will retain the water instead of much of it evaporating away.

I mean to tie the hollyhocks at the back of the pond, as they are arched over at 90 degrees, but it is raining and it isn’t an urgent task. I’ll do it next week. We have had only three visitors today because of the rain. And on that subject, a correction. In the last blog, I wrote that London averages 25 ml of rain a month. That should be 50 mm (two inches). I was converting from imperial to metric and confused myself. And definitely not millilitres, but millimetres.

We have had an olive tree sapling for a month. It is in container near the herbs in tyres. The sapling is several years old, about a metre high, the trunk about the diameter of a 500 ml water bottle. It was removed from a garden and given to us, but it is struggling, the leaves curled and distressed as if suffering a virus attack. But it’s not a pathogen, simply that summer is not a good time to transplant a tree unless it has a firm root ball. Winter is best, when the tree is dormant. And to add to its problems, the sapling has broken roots, damaged when it was lifted from the ground. To survive, it must make new roots to take over from the injured. We hope it will recover, as it would be a welcome addition to the garden.

Most of the flowering plants have gone to seed, but a few are still in flower: hollyhocks, lychnis and buddleia. The montbretia is still in bloom by the front gate and the golden rod near the container. We close early today as it is chilly and still raining. There won’t be any more visitors.

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