We have had erratic weather, sometimes very warm, sometimes cold and windy, a lot of sunshine, a bit of cloud, but on the whole, not enough rain. The garden is unusually dry, and what is particularly annoying, it has done nothing to discourage those well-known wet-lovers, slugs and horsetails, which are flourishing mightily.
Fortunately, so is almost everything. There is a good set of fruit on the gooseberries and redcurrant, and a massive crop of rhubarb. The tulips are over, except for the fabulous black parrot ones, but the aquilegias and peonies are looking wonderful, and the first rose – a pink zephirine drouhin, is out.
It has been a wonderful year for bees and butterflies. I have just seen an orange tip male knock a small white – that was about twice its own size – off a rocket flower it fancied. Orange tips seem to have the same feisty reckless spirit as Jack Russell terriers. There were so many bees on the rowan blossom that for two days the whole tree was humming, and they are making the most of the thyme flowers.
The birds are loving the new bird feeder, and several broods have fledged – sparrows (of course – the hedge is a yelling tenement of lust and gossip, and they are on their second brood already), starlings and goldfinches. There are blue tits and great tits too, but they are shyer, and only seen in glimpses among the leaves, and chaffinches and at least one robin nest somewhere, but they are slower off the mark.
Further afield, I’ve seen goldfinches even on the most silent stretch of the road out of the village, and whatever the long-term situation of the planet (it’s not looking good, whichever way you look at it), it does seem that last year’s good summer and the mild winter and sunny spring, have really strengthened the wildlife of this patch.