Reedmace. Sunday 16th July, 2023

We had eight hours of rain on Friday. Most of it gentle, but heavy in patches. It was very welcome, after a dry week. The pond hardly looks any higher but our IBCs (big tanks) are fuller. And the rain was everywhere, all over the garden, which sounds a little obvious, but if you are dependent on watering cans, then everywhere doesn’t get watered. We do the pots and a few especially suffering plants. Though, the vegetable beds are getting a regular water, and that shows in their rich, green fullness.

Thames Water are coming this week to put in a meter. So they say. Last time, they just came to inspect, this time, we hope, to do the work. Once the meter is in, we can instruct the plumber to put in the standpipe. When it is done, we should put out the bunting, have a brassband playing, and invite the Mayor to make a speech, and unveil the tap.

The wildflower bed has suffered in the dry weather. Its show of flowers virtually gone. We had some corporate volunteers on Friday. My first thought was to strip the bed, the most visible plants were tall poppies gone to seed and hedge mustard with its tiny yellow flowers. Hardly a  showing. But then I looked closer and saw, just above the ground, black medick, and here and there nipple weed with its small dandelion like flowers. I thought if we cut down the tall plants, there might be a second flowering. So that is what we did.

I had six volunteers, and they cut back all the tall foliage. What I hadn’t thought about was the effect of six people in the bed. It got thoroughly trampled, squashed flat; whether anything will come through is a moot point. Let’s leave it a couple of weeks and see.

The globe thistles are going blue. The many spheres make me think of a solar system of planets for the Little Prince, Saint-Exupery’s hero. We are told, he grew up on a tiny planet, which is impossible in terms of physics and, you may well ask, what about his parents, but it doesn’t do to interrogate such tales, they break too easily. By the large pergola, there’s over 20 poppy seed cases on long stalks. They are like a crowd watching a tennis match, oohing and aahing at the action. A further example of my anthropomorphic tendency.

Our reed mace (aka bulrush) in the pond has been wired upright. It’s height and weight had caused it to fall almost to the water level. So it has been tied. It’s brown sausage, 1.5 metres above water level, is a mass of female flowers; atop them are the feathery male flowers. Quite a few of the water lily leaves, instead of being flat and floating on the water, are about four inches above it on stalks. This is because of the drying out of the pond. They were floating, but the level has sunk, leaving the leaves aloft.

The damsel flies are gone from vicinity of the pond. No doubt they have mated. I didn’t see a single dragonfly all season. Nor have we had many butterflies, though I spot a cabbage white, but no red admirals or painted ladies. This is said to be due to last summer’s drought killing off many of the adults, leaving fewer to breed. I note a few ladybirds but not as many as usual. We’ve had bumble bees around, especially favouring the giant scabious.

The vegetable raised beds are packed full and verdant. There are pea pods and crimson runner bean flowers, and lots of foliage filling out the beds. Nearby, on the smaller pergola, is our grape vine. It has bunches of tiny green grapes which should ripen by September.

In one of the Fothergill beds are the spiky blue florets of veronica, very easy to confuse with the nearby salvias. The penstemons are in flower too, with their purple red trumpets, rather like fox gloves, but the achillea has gone to seed. The evening primrose has been flowering for quite a few weeks. I haven’t been in the garden in the evenings to note its evening behaviour when flowers are said to open but only live a day or two. They don’t remind me of primroses at all, except for the colour which is very like the cowslip’s.

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