Wednesday, 21 August 2019

late summer

Autumn Bliss raspberry
Little, naked pink flags of Cyclamen hederifolium flowers emerge and signal late summer. The vegetable garden's generosity continues. 76kg of food brought into the kitchen since March. A further 40kg of Kestrel and Charlotte potatoes bagged and stored. Red Duke of York and Sarpo Kifli remain in the ground. Ever-frugal, I oven-roast the small potatoes that I don't store with garlic and courgettes, add green lentils and top with dill. Visitors avoid eye-contact lest they be offered courgettes. The apple trees begin to shed windfalls. Plump autumn raspberries. Our worst-ever year for tomatoes. Young toads hunt beneath the big leaves of the courgette plants.

Garden birds emerge from moult. The soundtrack of the garden is now the trickle of robin song and the contact calls of tits . Mixed groups of small  birds moving through shrubs and trees. 500g of seed per day into the feeders.

Red and black ants nurse 'ant eggs'. A juvenile green woodpecker yaffles in delight - they love to binge on ants. 

My uncle shared memories with dad of family times in Radford, Nottingham. A mile from the centre of our city. Victorian slums with no electricity until after 1946 and a single cold water tap in the kitchen. Some neighbours without even a water tap until the 1960's and having to use the shared standpipe. Communal toilets. My grandfather (Daddar) growing flowers on his allotment to sell in the pub so that he could buy a pint. He entertained the children by candlelight telling them the fantasy of the cottage in the country they would one day live in. Always gales of laughter when my mammar protested her role in the dream: that of mucking out the animals.

Today dad with us in the kitchen looking at the garden. 'Where is this place?' 'It's perfect'. We're literally living the dream that my daddar told to his children...

The Notts Wildlife Trust members' visit to us coincided with a beautiful August morning. The flowers danced with invertebrates.
‘Exploring the three acres of stunning wildlife gardens  today was magical and inspiring, such rich diversity of pollinators, birds and habitats'.
A wonderful group of like-minded, cake-eating people. Then soup for the posse of volunteers, family and NWT staff from our garden vegetables with white loaves with fennel and sunflower seeds.

A juvenile tawny left its' imprint on Judith and Rogers front door: the Turin shroud owl.

Hen pheasants scour the sections of unmown lawn with individual young. 

Out-of-place, two oystercatchers peeping to one another as they fly overhead.

A thin haul from the moth light last night. 55 moths of 18 species. Our first old lady moth. A wonderful name for the large mothy bulky Vulcan bomber of an insect.

Our new garage grows falteringly. I buy materials and pay the lads when they have a day. An eye-watering scaffolding price comes in. I sense a price hike when we are quoted. This I attribute to men seeing us as a couple and thinking that she could only have married me for my money.

A welcome (if far-too-brief) return from one of our first WWOOF volunteers. Elle comes back from the vegetable garden with a loaded basket then cooks a delicious vegan curry before dashing back to Oz.

I support a petition to repeal the archaic Weeds Act 1959. Plants targeted by the Act include common and creeping thistle - both rich sources of nectar, ragwort with its 177 pollinators and dock which is an important food plant for many insects.

A manure delivery from Poo Pete's stables  - the lifeblood of the fertile garden. But now the concern that manure may be contaminated with aminopyralid or clopyralid (a similar herbicide). Manufactured by Dow, these chemicals are widely used by farmers to kill broadleaved weeds in grass and rape straw. This herbicide lies hidden within hay and passes through the horses and does not break down in the composting process. Contamination is being reported in council composting systems. Plant leaves curl and plants fail to thrive. One of our garden visitors' young plants had all the symptoms of this contamination after planting using a peat-free potting compost. Another day, another crime against nature, another petition...


The new Prime Minister has already stated that he plans to ‘liberate’ the UK from Genetically Modified (GM) regulations.  This is probably to align us with the US approach to GM crops which is far more relaxed, and opens the way to US trade deals. Or a massive increase in growing herbicide-tolerant grain which has been genetically engineered by agrichemical corporations such as Bayer (Monsanto).

The August sky is beautiful but empty. Swallows, house, sand martins, swifts... washed from the memory of the coming generation with no epitaph? 

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