Brighten up your day with Sue Grant’s final weekly update about her garden this spring.
“Summer has arrived. Correction: an English summer. Temperatures drop, winds blow and rain splatters. For the first time since I started these observations, early morning walks around the garden have been risky, dodging squalls and deluges.
“Happily Mother Nature is well equipped to cope with all of these and just gets on with life. So, flowers bloom, fledglings fly, bees buzz, fruits appear and … the grass grows! Too much lawn-mowing to be done now.
“As the last rhododendrons explode in a burst of crimson, so the early ones fade. Pride of place now rests with roses, peonies and delphiniums, all heralding summer in a variety of distinctive shapes and colours. I am especially gratified that I took the time to stake and tie up the poppies and peonies this year. Even Thursday’s hailstones failed to destroy the cabbage-sized clusters of peony petals or the perfection of the ‘Golden Anniversary’ rose on the patio.
“Bird life in the garden has also changed dramatically since the early weeks. The woodpeckers frustrated me by eventually raising their young in a distant oak tree across the field. For a while I could hear them screaming for food, as they do, and now they perch in the garden trees while the parents demolish the fatballs in the feeders. I feared for the tiny young dunnocks in their south-facing nest subject to the almost scorching heat of the sun. But at least one survived and sat long enough on the edge of the bush for me to take the photo.
“The hedgerows have been quivering with the tentative flutterings of chattering baby bluetits while thumb-sized young coaltits have tried balancing on the feeders for themselves. I have been able to follow the comings and goings of nesting wrens, robins and blackbirds and now my attention is fully focussed on the house martins and, to my relief, our one pair of swallows. They seemed so late in arriving this year, and even then were showing only brief interest in the usual nesting place in the porch. However it seems that they have preferred a site just a little higher, under the roof tiles close to the bathroom window. Perfect!
“If you have followed my ramblings from the beginning you will remember our herculean attempts to replace the old pond lining, with the accompanying pictures of destruction. I am pleased to say that the pond is now approaching its prime, with green saucers of water lily leaves gradually spreading over the centre, bringing hope of exquisite flowers to come. Water boatmen and skaters skim across the surface and it seems that at least one little newt has survived our intrusion.
“Someone asked recently about the massive pile of wood-chippings. I was successfully spreading it out to dry and carting away barrow-loads to a sheltered place, and then the rain came. About half of the load still resides in our drive, so if anyone would like to keep a social distance while shovelling it up, it is free!
“In this strange time of lockdown the other half of the team here has managed to rebuild a wooden greenhouse, repair a garden gate and reconstruct the roof of the log shelter – now, I remind him, there’s just the decking at the top of the garden to see to. At the same time he has encouraged broad beans, leeks and onions to flourish but fought an almost losing battle with mice and insects on his peas and spinach.
“So, it seems that spring has come and gone while we have all pottered around on home ground. So this will be the last of the early morning reports and I will just join with everyone else in fighting the ‘Battle of the Weeds’ for the rest of the summer.”
See all articles from Sue Grant’s column about what’s happening early doors in her garden.