This Week in The Garden... 24th July 2021
Summer arrived with high temperatures and scorching sun this week, just in time for the official opening of the gardens to the public. Plenty of time was spent watering thoroughly in the early mornings, which means that the young seedlings in the Cutting Garden and the newly-planted lavenders and daisies along Lovelace Wall have thrived in the heat rather than suffered. The old gardeners’ adage to “soak the ground, not the leaves” is especially noteworthy in bright, hot, sunlit days. Firstly, by making sure that the valuable water you are using is getting to where it is needed, ie the roots, directly and quickly; and secondly, by not leaving drops of water on the plant which could scorch leaves and petals in the strong sunlight. A good soaking twice a week is better than a light shower every day in the high temperatures and encourages the plant roots to grow deeper to where the water soaks down, rather than staying close to the surface, where they are vulnerable.
Although we don’t, as a rule, water established plants, this week the newer roses along the Friars’ Path and in the Cloister Garth also got a good soak. The generally wet weather this year has helped them enormously but the competition from the other plants all around means that in high temperatures they can soon start to show signs of wilt.
Time spent holding the end of the hose is never wasted, it gives us gardeners a good opportunity to really inspect the plants as we water. Whilst watering with one hand we are usually deadheading or weeding with the other, having spotted something we may have missed before. It’s also time to appreciate the plants and notice the small details that can sometimes be overlooked. I have been making friends with a baby robin, who has followed me around for the last few days, quickly learning that where there are gardeners there are treats to be found in the newly-turned or dampened soil.
We have also been butterfly-spotting this week, as we work, keeping a note of the species we see. I downloaded the butterfly ID guide from the Big Butterfly Count website (www.bigbutterflycount.butterfly-conservation.org) and we have been noting species as they emerge in the mid-morning sun, warming their bodies and stretching their wings. We have Large and Small Whites, Tortoiseshells, Red Admirals and Peacocks. The meadow is a favourite haunt of beautiful Common Blues and the similarly-marked Gatekeepers and Meadow Browns. We think we spotted a Small Copper as well, which was a new species for us.