Jane has been kind enough to write up a ‘diary style’ report in the absence of any activity at the Club.

May 3rd was an early start.  We had been invited to join a fellow club member (virtually, of course) for International Dawn Chorus Day.  5.15am found us in the small garden structure known as ‘Shed-quarters’, wrapped in blankets and sipping coffee from a vacuum flask.  A few miles away, our friends, similarly kitted out, settled down in their own summerhouse.  The sunrise behind Clee Hill was a spectacle of red and orange, heralded by a nearby cuckoo and what sounded like a thousand other song birds.  We sat and listened.  When light rain began to fall, the gentle sound of the rain drops on the felt roof above us and on the garden around us added to the feeling of being in some kind of tropical paradise – except for the cold beginning to penetrate through our blankets!  It was a lovely moment in time, at a time when there is so much sadness and worry in the world. 

On the 75th anniversary of VE Day last week, parallels were drawn between WWII and the war against coronavirus.  Whilst not exactly ‘Digging for Victory’, several of my neighbours are now taking up the challenge and have been able to provide homes for extra vegetable plants that I had grown for the Gardening Club annual plant sale, which would have taken place on 10th May.  However, they are beginning to realise that gardening can be a war in its own right.   In the battle to save plants from their enemies, there are defeats and triumphs, in equal measure.  There is the usual army of pests including aphids, caterpillars, mice, rabbits, birds, slugs and snails but we have also been experiencing extreme changes in temperature from a sunny 23 Celsius one day to feeling like minus 1 the following night.  And then there is also the never quite knowing whether the problem is under or over watering!  Overall, though, I think the satisfaction of eating produce you have grown yourself far outweighs the disappointments along the way and I hope that, in a couple of months, my neighbours come to the same conclusion when they are able to enjoy the fruits of their labour. 

With the good weather and without the distractions of ‘normal life’, I am enjoying the opportunity to spend more time in the garden.  Despite this, it still feels like the annual race against time:  plants are demanding to be potted-on, planted out, fed and watered and weeds are growing at an exponential rate. I never feel as if I am on top of it.  More time, however, has allowed us to make progress on jobs that don’t normally even get on the list.  Instead of my usual, last minute, desperate attempts with a few sticks and bits of netting, we have constructed re-useable bird and butterfly protection for the vegetables.  We have also refurbished the old, inherited greenhouse, cleaning the glass, replacing broken panes, rebuilding the crumbling brick base and installing a watering system.  The hope is that getting these jobs done now will help to make gardening in future years a little easier.

It is becoming apparent that a return to normality may be 12 or even 18 months away, reliant on the availability of a reliable vaccine.   It also seems likely that some of the adaptations we have made to our lives for lockdown will continue because we have found we prefer them, be it growing our own vegetables, spending less time in our cars or enjoying more time out of doors and appreciating nature.  There is hope that some good can come out of this.

Jane Cross