Derek – Thursday 5th April

It’s a warm sunny day on the first Thursday afternoon the garden has been open in 2018. The garden is tidy after the winter clear up and the new shed, donated by the library, is amid the waisthigh buddleia. There are two great tits on a feeder in the children’s area.

In the pond, there’s frog spawn in three stages. A clump about the size of a tennis ball, laid last night with black circular embryos, is at the bottom. Above it, a week old clump, the size of a bath sponge, is floating. The frog spawn are like commas, and floating, I think, because the embryos are respiring and giving off carbon dioxide, and so making the clump lighter.

There’s a third clump, three weeks old, in which the tadpoles have left the jelly. Many are in a black bundle on top feeding on the jelly, others stationary are attached to plants further away.

I see four water boatmen in the pond. They swim upside down, attached to the surface tension, their centre legs swinging back and forth like oars to propel them. There are clouds of daphnae (water fleas) here and there. In a few weeks, the tadpoles will feast on them. Iris leaves are six inches above water level, two months from flowering. Under the water masses of hairlike algae bind the hornwort.

About the garden, daffodils are hanging on. I see tulips in a pot that have been shattered by the recent rain. There are variously coloured primulas here and there, and forget-me- nots enjoying the spring sunshine. The forsythia by the fence is awash with bright yellow flowers on leafless stems. The birch tree by the shelter has catkins dangling like earrings and tiny leaves unfurling.
Nearby is a patch of purple violets. Nettles are emerging by the back fence and, in a wild flower bed, red dead nettle, not the stinging kind, proliferate..

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