Spring broke early this year with a gloriously warm April that got seeds germinating at speed and had plants showing off their glories prematurely.
May continued cooler and then June and July pitched their heat at us, full tilt. Blasts of heat, day after relentless day and, sometimes on into the night where no relief could be found from the high temperatures. Plants withered and shrivelled before our eyes. Green grass became the brown grass of Gregory Porter’s song. https://youtu.be/hoIHOnkisuw
Vegetables vegetated and stopped growing for weeks and weeks. Scarce were the tomatoes that did make it to fruition but how sweet they tasted with all that sun. The pond dried up almost completely but it gave us a chance to take out some of the more boisterous water plants that were making a bid for pond domination. Water butts were drained of their very last drops of precious water to carefully spot water peppers and melons growing in the polytunnel. The water butts too were then cleaned and cleared of the leaves that had collected in the bottom along with the odd remains of an unfortunate lizard who had slipped by the filter.
Then rain came, just in time to refill water butts and to half fill the pond so that one of our dogs, who is a water lover, could once again dunk her belly to cool off after a walk. The garden started to reawaken, to shake itself and to continue on the road to full flowering, to the production of fruit.
Above, two of our five cockerels enjoying the cooler weather.
New for me this year, Tithonia in orange and yellow. Mexican sunflower. easy to grow from seed.
On the left above, Belle de Nuit and on the right a salvia, ‘magenta’.
We noticed that autumn was arriving towards the end of July. Trees were losing their leaves. The Montpellier maples were famously starting their turn to flame, they having the most striking colour in autumn. The shades of autumn were arriving well before summer had ended.
Now, in the middle of August, mornings and evenings are chilly, days are shorter and there is that feel in the air that a change of season has arrived. Temperatures soar during the day showing a sometimes 20-25C difference from that of the morning or late evening.
Morning walks with the dogs demand a fleece be worn and fingers are chilly as we pass along the shadier paths. The cobwebs of autumn-working spiders strew our path and have to be constantly brushed away from the face. Heavy dew wets the shoes. Fields are starting to be ploughed. Heaps of manure appear there ready to be ploughed in. It will be a race against the seasons to see if we can harvest some of the vegetables that were stopped in their tracks by the heat.
Will we be lighting the Rayburn early this year? Will the heating go on before the end of October? Will winter come early and will it be a long, hard one? I’m already feeding the wild birds which doesn’t normally happen until later in the autumn as there is usually plenty of foraging for them. Significantly, earlier in the year, they stripped the fruit trees of their fruit, an indication that perhaps they knew they were in for a long, hot summer with lean pickings, so they were stocking up when they could. Last year, they left our cherry trees alone so we could enjoy the fruits as they ripened. So are the birds telling us that hard times are ahead? That remains to be seen.