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

First thing each morning I do a quick check of my vegetable patch and greenhouses, mainly looking to see what has expired or been eaten overnight.   This year there has been an invasion of voles in the garden, voles with a particular liking for beetroot.  One mating pair of voles can produce up to 100 baby voles in a year, so colonies grow quickly.  Normally the tawny owls gobble up enough of these rodents to maintain a healthy balance of owls, voles and beetroot, but for the first time in a number of years we haven’t heard the familiar squawk of tawny owlets.  As a result the voles have been enjoying a population boom and enjoying more than their fair share of beetroot. 

My morning patrol for vole damage on August 31st was the first to have a distinctly autumnal feel.  The sun was up but the air was cool and crisp.  Later in the day, in the heat of the sun, it felt like mid-summer again but autumn had definitely arrived.  It was somewhat of a surprise to me but, when I look around, the signs are all there; over the hedge I can see that the neighbour’s acer has already turned a fiery red, the squirrels are raiding the walnut tree, and the swallows are gathering on the telegraph wires.

Having got used to a life of alfresco dining since March when the hot weather (and coronavirus) arrived, it is with mixed feelings that I face the change of season.  However, the prospect of harvesting damsons, blackberries and apples and being able to enjoy (and justify!) hot comfort food, such as fruit crumbles and roasted winter vegetables, are definitely consolation enough.

In the light of coronavirus restrictions, the gardening club committee has decided that it is not practical to hold club meetings for the remainder of 2020. In these strange times, the committee meeting seemed like a bit of an ‘afternoon out’.  It was the chance to catch up with fellow club members that I wouldn’t normally see day to day and we also got to enjoy an impromptu tour of the club secretary’s beautiful garden!   Garden tours are the ideal socially distanced outing and many gardens are now open to the public again, either independently or through the National Gardens Scheme (www.ngs.org.uk).  Last week, I spent a very enjoyable couple of hours visiting Ivy Croft Garden near Ivington and hope to visit the walled garden at Wildegoose Nursery in Shropshire next month, by which time autumn will, well and truly, be upon us.

Jane Cross