an image of people playing the Ukelele

Ukelele – Sunday, 23rd June, 2024

A warm, sunny day, with the possibilities of more days like this or warmer. Last Sunday, we had rain, but have had little in the week. Today, it’s 24 degrees, and could get close to 30 later in the week. More than that is uncomfortable. I think of Dehli and Mecca with temperatures of 50 or more. Deadly temperatures, climate change in action. I hope our next government takes the issue seriously.

Hotter days means we’ll be getting the hose out, soaking the garden to keep it alive. But weather is changeable. Predictable for only a few days at a time, so we may get cooler, wetter days after this. Or we may not. Let’s hope for a dry Forest Gate Festival on Saturday, July 6th.

The ukulele class is in full flow as I come into the garden. There’s 27 of them. And for novices, they don’t sound bad, though Misty, their instructor, sings and plays with them. I like the way she works with them. Instead of playing Three Blind Mice until they are sick of it, she takes them through a range of songs including He’s Got the Whole World in His Hands, London Bridge is Falling Down, and a host of others, some well known and some I don’t know. They have song books with the words and chords. Our new shelter just about holds most of them, seated in rows, spilling out into an overflow gazebo.

It is such a small instrument, the ukulele, very portable, only four strings. I am sure the session is hard work for novices. I see strained faces, concentration, almost anguish. But that’s the way of all art. It takes time and effort, before it becomes easy and practised. I wish them all well.

A tadpole was seen with legs. I don’t see it, the pond water is still green and a little murky, though not as bad as it was a few weeks back. A couple of days ago, I saw blue damsel flies, none today. I see no sign of a bulrush stem, plenty of leaf, higher than the pond irises leaves, but a reluctance to flower, for that’s what the bulrush sausage is, an intense cluster of female flowers. There’s two pairs of water lilies. A grand, surprise of a flower, like a white regal boat, seeming to be floating on the water. They have stems, of course, sometimes visible but more often under the water, hidden under the lily pads. The pond irises have developed their seed heads, like long green lozenges.

I watch the backswimmers. Don’t move and you can watch them ‘rowing’, or so it seems, but any movement from the viewer and they dive into the weed.

The hollyhocks are out, talls spires of yellow flower bells, we have some pink ones, though they are not out yet. Hollyhocks leaves suffer snail damage, but flower they must. Like the acanthus, flowering now, snail damaged too, but the purpose of the plant, if we can talk in such a way, is the flower, the seat of further generations. I await the globe thistles, as yet the globes are green prickly things, reminiscent of conker cases.

Hot days are not good for a garden. Heat hurries plants through their cycles. Flowering becomes short lived. Mid 20s, stop there.

The wildflower bed is still delivering with corn marigolds, California poppies, just a few reds, there’s nipplewort, buttercups, hedge mustard, scentless mayweed and wild carrot. I have done two of my three wildflower rambles. The first was to Wanstead Flats, the second to Forest Lane Park. My last is on 21 July. I hope there’s still some wild flowers around. June is the best month through for wildflowers, and a drought will certainly not help. I hope my pessimism proves wrong.

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