As we enter the month of September, it’s clear summer is nearing its end. And although I’m reluctant to say goodbye to this wonderful season, there’s still much to enjoy. Continue reading “Holding Onto Summer”
I’m a man who likes his seasons. In spring, I thrive in the fresh air and those glimpses of colour in the newly dug flowerbeds. In summer, I bathe in the heat of the sun and those long, golden evenings. The tumbling leaves and changing colours of autumn warm my heart. And in winter, I relish the crisp mornings and the soft dustings of snow.
Weather has always been a hotly discussed subject on these shores, however, with Christmas a few days away, I think it’s safe to say all bets are off for a white Christmas. This unseasonable mild weather is having quite an impact on Mother Nature, and on me. As we turn to one another and wish goodwill to one and all, the outside temperature is tugging at my consciousness.
Up at the plot yesterday, I couldn’t help but notice spring bulbs piercing through the soil. Normally, the sight of something green in February would fill me with hope. To see these tender shoots so early fills me with concern. We need some cold weather, not only to improve the flavour of both my swede and sprouts, but a cold hard frost will kill off those unwanted pests currently resting in the soil, biding their time for the warmer months when once again they can wreak havoc on our precious spring crops.
I’m not going to get on my soapbox and start preaching about global warming but I’m aware of change and the bigger problems these unpredictable seasons are having on my allotment, on the environment and on our future.
On another note, Agent Soph and myself had a fantastic evening this week at Christmas at Kew. It was wonderful, not only because of the amazing lighting displays which compliment the trees and shrubs, but also to see so many young children curious about the gardens. As they cupped their hot chocolate in one hand and their lightsaber torches in the other, they were full of questions. ‘What’s that tree?’, ‘How old is it?’, and ‘Does Santa like gardening?’. They were in the open air, getting closer to nature and having a wonderful time, and so were we.
Whether it’s the bleakest of winters or the height of summer, if you’re at all interested in gardening, a visit to Kew Gardens is a must. And yes, I did get to see Santa.
From the moment I wake up, to the moment I close my eyes at the end of the day, my mind is awash with gardening and all its growing temptations. A plump marrow, a firm carrot and a sack of the sweetest sprouts. Hmmmm… sprouts.
But while I continue to daydream, there are things on the plot I need to turn my attention to from time to time; whitefly on the brassicas, ant hills amongst the courgettes; and occasionally, I must face fear itself.
In the polytunnel yesterday, I was overcome with excitement to see how quickly the aubergines were growing. But then something threw itself at me, blocking my path. ‘None shall pass!’ I heard it growl. Gather closer, fair reader, as what I say next requires but the gentlest of whispers. Anything louder will draw unwanted attention from the dark one.. it was evil itself!
I’m not going to lie, I screamed like a girl as I wet myself a little. This wasn’t a spider, it was a face-hugger! Ridley Scott never mentioned using the common garden spider as part of his Alien franchise. OK, I’m acting the drama queen, but I guess you had to be there.
You see, we live in a country where dangerous critters lurking in the shadows, preying on innocent gardeners doesn’t often happen. If something does pounce, it’s normally by accident and it’s quickly followed by an awkward exchange of apologies, ‘sorry, thought you were someone else’, and the animal tipping its hat and quickly retreating back into the shadows apologising for his outlandish behaviour. Stinging or biting just isn’t… British.
But the media loves spreading apocalyptic tales of spiders scourging the land, removing limbs, as they drag their victims into the woods. And at the eye of this storm is the UK’s False Widow Spider. Of course spiders bite, even in England. Occasionally, they can puncture skin and people can react to their poison. No doubt global warming has played its part in encouraging foreign bugs to pack their holiday suitcases, hop on the nearest warm current and come to these shores for a carefree summer. Although just how much they are running amok across the English countryside, I’m not sure.
But everything has its place, its purpose. And so long as we respect each other, we can actually help each other. Thanks to Conan the Destroyer, my polytunnel is enjoying a pest-free environment and my aubergines are thriving!