Garden Journal - July 25th 2006

Wildchicken Garden Journal - Miranda Hodgson


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25th July2006 - storms, vandalism, more wildlife and even more flowers

I still havenít tried that chilli burn antidote but am keeping it up my sleeve for when itís needed. I was hoping that it might become necessary for when we deal with the new crop of Bolivian Rainbow chillies, only theyíre not Bolivian Rainbows. No idea what they are but the flowers are white, rather than purple, and the fruits are pale green rather than dark purple. Weíll be getting back to the seed company about it.

"If I was in charge, the top temperature in the UK would be 24c and it would rain every other night"

What a month itís been. So hot. Itís a bit like being back in Taiwan, in spring. The current heat wave weather weíre having now would have been pleasantly okay there, where temperatures of 33c would have been combined with something like 95%  humidity, and at 4am it would still be 28c. Even though we got used to it, to a certain extent, that was a good while ago and I have to say that I really donít like these temperatures. If I was in charge, the top temperature in the UK would be 24c and it would rain every other night.



Hot weather brings storms, of course, and there was a magnificent one last Saturday. It was a real treat. It was about 4pm and I was pottering about outside, not thinking about anything much. The sky was blue and the air calm. Then I looked up to see clouds gathering to the south. The wind picked up and the trees started thrashing about. Within about 10 minutes, the clouds had boiled across the sky and the wind was approaching gale force. It was so thick that the sky turned almost black and the street lights came on. A few more minutes and the downpour started. It was nothing else Iíve ever seen in this country and was more like being in South East Asia. Absolutely torrential and a real treat.


A good storm blowing in

A few minutes after the clouds first appeared


Things followed course for Broughton and after half an hour or so the electricity went off and didnít come back on again for nine hours. No worries Ė the candles and lamps came out, we cooked and ate by candlelight and then, the rain having stopped some time ago, enjoyed sitting outside in real darkness, not the usual orange glow. Interesting Ė there seemed to be many more rustlings in the undergrowth. Did we compensate for the darkness by hearing more, or were there really different noises?


The weather has brought a mixture of new things to see. Taking down the sunshade is too much effort and itís been left up for most of the month. Blackbirds have taken to sitting under it to get cool, or on our chairs when they fancy a bit of sun. The furniture is so popular that we can no longer sit down without first brushing it off. Sometimes, Iíve had to get a bucket of water and scrub at it; when there's no poo, itís never looked so clean, all the green algae is gone.


A blackbird sitting in my chair

A blackbird sitting in my chair


Sitting out on warm evenings has confirmed what we suspected Ė we do have a hedgehog and have seen it several times. It comes in through the hole we dug under the fence and rustles through the beds finding slugs and beetles. We can hear it drinking noisily from the water dish on the patio, or crunching at something under a shrub. Sometimes we follow it round the garden and watch from a distance as it trots about the lawn, seeming quite undisturbed by us. They move surprisingly fast and are a real pleasure to watch. You hear about hedgehogs from being young, but donít see them very often. Realising that thereís one coming to your garden every night, one that you can actually see In Real Life, is a bit like having a fairy tale come true.


On the down side of summer, another new thing for us to see was several of the top stones knocked off our wall and onto the beds. By some strange chance, none had done much damage and only a couple of stems were broken. Amazing, considering the size of the stones, which must be at least 60cm long and 20cm wide. Contacting our insurers, we decided it wasnít worth making a claim and instead took the advice of the man who runs the DIY shop in Brigg, Brian, of Brianís DIY. He told Karl that when the same thing happened to his wall, he didnít use mortar or No Nails, he bolted them back on with 15cm long countersunk bolts. Excellent. Weíve acquired the necessary hardware to carry out the job. Hah, letís see the little turds try it next time.


Broken wall

Our poor old wall, but it won't stay like this for long


A few new pleasures are growing this year Ė I planted five corms of Crocosmia 'Lucifer' in early spring, which are just coming into flower. Theyíre glorious, the colours are incredibly rich; the buds, held in dark purple sepals, starting greenish yellow and moving through orange to bright red. Canít wait to see the clump grow.


Flower buds of Crocosmia 'Lucifer'

Crocosmia 'Lucifer' is glorious even before the flowers open


Another one is Gazania ĎSunkissí, which I saw growing in a pot on a friendís patio. Combined with purple or dark blue, I find the mixtures of oranges, yellows and red-browns to be irresistible. I bought three boxes and planted them under the hot wall in the front garden. The Rudbeckias and the Heleniums, which border the patio, are just starting to open too. They grow near to several oregano and lavender plants, each of which has about 50 bumblebees crawling over it, along with zillions of hoverflies. What a delight.


Gazania 'Sunkiss'

Gazania 'Sunkiss'


As far as the birds go, there is a certain Pavlovian development in their behaviour. What happens is, I go outside, planning on watering the tomatoes in the greenhouse, only to see a blackbird in there. I quickly duck out of the doorway and turn away, pretending not to see, just as youíd do on surprising a kissing couple, and go back later. So, this happens maybe a dozen times. The result is that when I go outside, if thereís a blackbird near the greenhouse, it seems to regard the greenhouse as a place of safety and immediately runs inside. Sigh.

© Copyright Miranda Hodgson 2006


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