Globe Thistle – Sat 29th July, 2023

The pond is a green oasis. Under the surface are a forest of two oxygenators: hornwart and Canadian pond weed. It is difficult to see any animal life in the density of foliage. I am curious about our Peter Pan tadpoles, those that refuse to grow up. The usual state of affairs is that tadpoles, which emerge from the spawn in March, become froglets by June and leave the pond. There are always some that don’t mature, the Peter Pans. For some reason a hormone doesn’t kick in and so they remain in the juvenile state. Though, they say, if they survive the winter, they may yet become froglets in the spring.

I take out a full bucket of pond water. It is so full of water weeds that it is difficult to see the animal life. I remove most of the plants and throw them back in the pond. There are two water boatmen. In the pond, on seeing movement they dart to the bottom of the pond. In the bucket, they don’t. I think because it is so light. There’s nowhere to hide.

There are three tadpoles. One is small, as if it has hardly developed at all since leaving the spawn. Two are fat, twice the little one’s size. And one of these, I note has back legs. Is it developing, or has its progress to frogdom halted. Although, there are legs, it doesn’t use them but swims with its tail. I watch them for a few minutes and then pour the bucket back in the pond. It will be interesting to see if we get froglets from these Peter Pans in early spring. Though, I wonder if some are forever held back; tadpoles till they die.

About a month ago, we were donated some Japanese pumpkins seedlings. The plants were small, no more than 6 inches high. We planted them out in an empty raised bed. And the snails homed in, munching all but three of them. It’s always distressing to see the wreckage left by snails. In this case, they stripped them back to stalks. Three didn’t get attacked, and we have put them under a cold frame, not to keep them warm, but to protect them from gastropods.

We have been fortunate this year in terms of rain and heat. Last July the temperature reached 40º, this year a cooler 30º, with most of this month in the low 20s. Seeing the heat and forest fires in Greece and other Mediterranean countries, I am quite content with our cooler summer.

How will gardens adjust to climate change? Will many people get rid of their lawns? Dead grass isn’t at all attractive, even if it recovers later. Plastic grass for some is a temptation, but it really just a carpet, literally. It will attract no bees nor butterflies, and no insects. It is as sterile as concrete.

Year on year, the climate will heat up if we continue as we are. Currently, we are at 1.1º above pre-industrial level, and predicted to be 2.7º by the end of the century. And that figure could prove optimistic, as our government, like too many others, is too keen on placating its citizens in order to get their votes. In the meantime, the world burns, and will continue to do so.

There are lots of hollyhocks around the garden, pink and yellow are their colours. Snails like them, but they flower on. The current ace plant in the garden are the globe thistles. The plant’s flower heads have been globular for a couple of months, but only now are they blue, a prickly blue. Spherical shapes are not common in flowers. Pompom dahlias are almost spherical. The dandelion clock is spherical but that is a seed head. Enjoy the globe thistles while they last.

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