Blue skies again. Sunshine sparkling on the pond. A friendly breeze ruffles new leaves and turns the wind turbine merrily. What kind of killjoy would complain about the promise of yet another glorious summer day?
It does seem perverse. How often have I moaned about waking to endless cold, wet midsummer days? Now, we open the door to Mediterranean mornings – it feels heavenly but strangely disturbing. Heavenly if only it wasn’t for daily visions of hellishly soaring temperatures elsewhere. And is there another heatwave on our own horizon?
This year our Scotland’s Garden’s Scheme openings at The Pond Garden are supporting the extraordinary work of Children’s Hospices Across Scotland (CHAS). Although months of building work disrupted our earlier plans for spring walks – through snowdrops, daffodils and bluebells – we are delighted to welcome small groups by arrangement. So please just use the Contact form to fix a day and time. We would love to see you as we keep making new discoveries during this eventful summer…not least the uplifting determination of plants. They want to survive!
Magical moments bring me back to the here and now. A sudden flash of sizzling blue as a kingfisher streaks across the pond – the first we’ve seen for several years. Baby wrens emerge from a flowering shrub, perky little bundles of fluff on their first flight, not at all bothered by the human walking through them with a watering can. A pair of jackdaws raucously raise their young in the dead ash ‘wildlife monolith’. A mother blue tit feeds her fledgelings from the sunflower seed feeder outside our kitchen window. Red squirrels romp round the birch tree by the front door.
All around us, Nature springs surprises. After nine hard months of building works we viewed the wasteland round the cottage without much hope. Against all expectations plants have pushed their way through heavily compacted ground. First snowdrops. Then bluebells. Now geraniums. And in the cool shade of the Nothofagus tree the lovely open faces of Rosa moyesii put on their best show for many years.
After another unsettled spring – alternately cold, wet and dry just at the wrong time for growers – this long hot spell has brought an extraordinary burst of colour especially on our waterbank. Too dry, of course, but the latest heavy rain has helped.
Learn to adapt
I suppose we must learn to adapt (while we change our polluting habits). It’s easier for some than others in a rapidly changing climate. Standing on the pond bank we watch ducklings and moorhen chicks working their way through the reeds. Then the swans sail into view with their single cygnet. Proud and protective parents – Mother Swan hisses at us as we feed them grain. She sat so long and so patiently on her nest, it’s sad to see just this one healthy little bird emerging (broods of six or eight are usual). Perhaps that sudden cold snap in May proved fatal?
What can we do? I plan a call to RSPB, perhaps there are helpful changes we can make with pondside planting. The answers may not be unachievable. An evening walk round the garden is a kind of tutorial. Heavy clay soil on the waterbank is holding moisture well: foxgloves, ferns, hostas, rodgersias and brunnera all look splendidly healthy. Other areas need help – another load of forest bark to mulch in borders near the cottage.
We will need to mulch more and plant for changing weather patterns. Lots of weeds – wildflowers – are thriving and there are lessons there too. The red campion has gone bananas and we need to keep it under some kind of control but bees love it. Likewise the Russian comfrey. Most of the wildflowers have spread without much help from us but it’s great to see daisies, red clover and yellow rattle appearing in abundance exactly where we scattered the seeds. We’ve learned to love umbellifers of all kinds and they are hoaching with insects. Blue damsel flies, peacock butterflies, buzzing wasps, bumble bees, smart little black honey bees (from the hives at the end of our lane) – it’s feeding time for all of them.
Nature is – so far – alive and well and raring to go wherever it gets a chance. So we have lots to show and share in The Pond Garden. And – as we keep discovering – even more to learn from our visitors. Looking forward to meeting you.
The Pond Garden is open through Scotland’s Gardens Scheme. See The Pond Garden listing HERE and check sidebar for openings.