Sweet pea

Above: Sweet pea, July 2004

Garden diary: June

17 July 2005

The bright things of summer are flowering down here in the garden, with lots of red and magenta, and above the swifts are flying, very low much of the time, almost skimming the top of the apple tree.

I've come to love the swifts and their exuberant flying and calling more and more each year. Every evening, as dusk approaches, they form a great group, and circle high above for a time, then swoop down lower, with their usual high-pitched cry as they fly, and sometimes you can hear their wings move the air. They're just so splendid, and on the evenings I'm at home I try to find some time to be out there for a while just watching them.

This lunchtime we noticed the swifts high up, in a large group, circling a large bird which looked very much like a sparrowhawk. They were so high that it was hard to see what was going on, but the group of swifts were definitely surrounding the hawk, not attacking it, but almost as if they were monitoring it, following it, surrounding it so that it didn't take any of them. I've heard of this kind of thing before, but never seen it.

This symbol of solidarity seems important. Swifts are cool. We can learn a lot from them, methinks.

Something in the air

It's not just swifts and sparrowhawks in the air above the garden. The last couple of evenings I've seen a large dragonfly zipping around above the garden. It's perhaps trying to find the pond. The pond is so small, and now its surface is largely hidden by the foliage of pond plants, so it's probably hard to locate.

Something in the grass

Since last writing about how there seemed to be no froglets this year, I've found one tiny froglet in the edges of the grass, yesterday. It was perfectly formed, but so small that it must be from one of this year's tadpoles. Last year there were froglets all over the grass at this time. I'm rather glad that there aren't so many this year, as I've been needing to lie on the grass every now and then, to soak up the sun.

Webmaster worries

Having just converted this site to a tableless layout, I'm now going through the whole thing again, as I want to turn it into a flexible layout, meaning that the text will stretch horizontally to fill more of your monitor if you're using a higher resolution. It's been horrendously complicated and irritating so far, but I'm hoping to get it sorted soon.

11 July 2005

We're experiencing a heatwave here in the UK. In the garden the brightly coloured summer flowers are beginning to open, while the swifts are swooping down low near the houses, presumably attracted by good supplies of insects - many of them no doubt rising up from my garden.

At this time of the year there's often a slight hiatus in colour in the garden, between the roses flowering in June, and the other plants beginning to flower. It's been predominantly green for a week or two, but now the Crocosmia 'Lucifer' is beginning to open, and the first sweet peas.

The first of the sweet peas is a bright magenta colour, right next to the scarlet crocosmia, so it's a rather startling colour combination. It's probably just as well we're all wandering around wearing sunglasses already.
There are lots of buds, on the dahlias, the daylily, the heleniums and inula, so there should be a proper summer riot of colour imminently.

Woodland Corner was looking a bit tatty and tired, so I've trimmed back some of the old foliage, hoping it will resprout. Lots of trimming back has been necessary all over the garden, as pieces of climbers like the exuberant golden hop and the akebia tend to impede progress, as they hang down and hit you in the face.

The Francoa ramosa is flowering, with its delicate wands of beautifully marked pink flowers. Its leaves form an attractive mound which looks good in a pot, though as well as a potted specimen I've got several clumps of it around the garden, as its foliage is so handsome for most of the year.

In the pond

No froglets have been seen, and there are still a lot of tadpoles in the pond. This is rather puzzling as last year the froglets were emerging onto land by 22 June. Perhaps there was too much spawn this year, and consequently perhaps not enough food, or maybe there's some other reason for the apparent delay. I'm not worried though - as nature knows best. And there are frogs all over the place.

Many of them - of different sizes - sit around the pond's edge on these warm sunny days, as if sunbathing. Often there are four or five in a cozy frog heap. If I move suddenly nearby they are startled from their nonchalant sunbathing and jump into the pond. I'm trying to avoid moving about suddenly, not only because I don't want to disturb the frogs, but because it's far too hot to rush about.

Back to July highlights and diaries

August


Crocosmia 'Lucifer' in bud, July 2004

Above: Crocosmia 'Lucifer' in bud, July 2004

Garden diary: August