Dear Readers, this was meant to be posted on Sunday, but WordPress is playing up, so here it is today, and very confusing I’m finding it all too.
Dear Readers, the weather is due to be in the mid-to-high 30s Celsius today (about 93 degrees Fahrenheit if you still think of things in ‘old money’ like I do), and so it seemed to make sense to toddle over to Cherry Tree Wood and see how things were doing. On the face of it, the woods themselves look much as usual – the mature trees have deep roots, and there has long been a drainage problem in the wood and the adjacent grassland, so maybe they’re tapping into that.
The area beside the tennis courts, which was impassably wet only a few months ago, is now dry enough to walk around – I note some purple loosestrife which has gone over and is starting to develop scarlet leaves, which are most attractive. There’s lots of yellow flag iris (which has finished flowering but is still in fine leaf), and other plants which like it damp – there’s some bistort (pale persicaria (Persicaria lapathifolia I think), and what looks like a crack willow, another plant often found close to bogs.
Last time I was in the wood I noticed a young woman feeding the squirrels by hand – she looked like some kind of rodent goddess surrounded by her worshippers. Alas, this can sometimes make the squirrels fearless of humans, and even rather demanding, leading to human/animal conflict that could easily have been avoided. This very handsome squirrel was clearly weighing us up to see if we were generous souls with pockets full of peanuts, but alas we were a grave disappointment. Still, I confess a great fondness for squirrels. If I could go back to 1876 and prevent them from being released into Regent’s Park I probably would, but now they’re here they and our native foxes are the closest that most city dwellers get to a ‘wild’ mammal.
Looking back across the grass to the mature trees on the other side of the wood, it’s easy to see where the damp patches are – whilst some of the grass is burnt to a crisp, there are still a few hollows of emerald green.
On the edge of the wood, it’s easier to see where the younger trees have been affected by the drought. These conditions also make it much easier for insect predators and fungal, bacterial and viral infections to take home – much as someone who is immune-suppressed can be more likely to fall ill, so it is with plants. Many gardeners (and I’m amongst them) maintain that making sure that plants are in the right spot, adequately watered and in suitable soil will make them much more able to shrug off most of the things that nature would normally throw at them. Of course, this doesn’t help when diseases such as Dutch Elm disease or Ash Dieback strike, as the plants have no natural protection against infections that they’ve never come across before.
And then we brave the heat and head home. I’m not sure if this is just me, but trees and shrubs seem to be fruiting early than usual – has anybody else noticed? I have never seen so many haws on my hawthorn at home, and just look at this rowan on Huntingdon Road.
I always check out one of my favourite street trees – this poor soul was badly damaged when it was struck by a swinging skip which was being manoeuvred into position by a driver in a hurry. It seems to be doing remarkably well.
And finally, although my lavender is well past its best, the lavender on the north side of the road is still in full flower, and attracting a whole range of bees. I took a quick video for your delectation. Enjoy!