The Dog Days are over

Since coming back from Glenelg we have been gently crisping. The Dog Days of Summer had definitely arrived and the heat has been intense, settling on the garden like a lambent halo by mid morning and intensifying relentlessly to a late afternoon inferno. With the help of mum and auntie Lois we managed (just) some garden tidying for a couple of groups of August visitors but then collapsed into chairs under the pergola for a week of unashamed lotus eating. The evenings have been so warm we have been eating out at the long patio table, fortified against bugs with citronella candles, watching the bats swirling around some stunning harvest moons.

All around harvest is in progress. No question of needing the grain dryers this year! The oilseed rape is already harvested and the stubble is now being turned over for the next planting under the greedy eyes of trailing clouds of gulls. The wheat fields are mostly done and the balers are out turning the straw into neat cubes and cylinders for the winter. The blackbirds and thrushes in the garden are also very busy gathering in all the rowan berries. The tree on the back lawn has gone from completely laden to almost empty over the course of a week. The first of the little yellow plums have started to fall on the back lawn. By mid morning they are piping hot and semi stewed in their own skins. With the fallen fruit come the wasps, staking their territory around the pears and demanding protection jam to keep away from the coffee table. A serpent in every Eden..

The river is as low as I have ever seen it. A vast island has appeared in the middle of the stretch at the Lees, an Atlantis of gleaming white pebbles which has attracted a ramshackle squatter camp of gulls. Walking along on a still day we could see the pale shapes of fish just below the surface, sliding nervously past a patient heron. A large flock of Canada geese has begun to gather. Alas, the water is much too shallow for a sea plane landing or swimming. They are reduced to standing around with their feet cooling in the the water and tails in the air, like the paddling aunties from saucy postcards, dresses tucked into their knickers. At last the flashy butterfly crowd has arrived at the party (fashionably late). Peacocks are swanking all over the garden and small tortoiseshells making the most of the ragwort and mallow by the river.

The garden has been bone dry. It is interesting to see what has struggled and what survived. The dahlia are valiantly flowering, but the flowers are smaller than last year and not lasting well and our rudbeckia has struggled so badly I relented and watered it once or twice. If this is going to be the new normal I think I’m really going to have to reconsider phlox, at any rate in the dryer areas. The perovskia though is absolutely loving it, hemerocallis, achillea and goldenrod seem fairly indestructible and I have counted quite a few heads on the green kniphofia. Lots of things to think about for the autumn reshuffle…

Yesterday and today we woke to much needed rain and cooler, balmy air. All change..

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