June ended with a classic hay making episode here. 4 or 5 days of sunny warm weather were promised, so half the lower wet meadow was cut around tea time on Tuesday June 29th. June 30 was perfect haymaking weather – hot, sunny and windy. But then the inevitable happened – July 1st turned out to be cool, dank, grey and windless.
The hay sat all day, changing little. By then the forecast had changed with several days of showers forecast, from possibly the Thursday evening. In the end these didn’t materialise, and the hay was safely brought in by the Friday evening.
However, this meant that we weren’t full on haymaking as usually happens mid-summer, and so really enjoyed pottering in the garden, and admiring the changing scenes in the upper hay meadow, which progresses from day to day, as early flowers finish, the next wave start to emerge, and seeds are set.
In the lower meadow, the burnet moths emerged and nectared on the Common Valerian which has really expanded in numbers, this year.(Spot the orange mite.) Encouraged by how well and quickly a clump of Iris ensata has established in the upper pond, a few more cultivars have been added.
In the garden, the trial planting of a few Triteleia bulbs in the terrace garden has worked well, adding a vibrant splash of blue, and the rambling roses have put on their best ever show, as they expand upwards and outwards.
Eventually, the forecasts started to show a high pressure system building, so on July 12th we cut the remaining half of the lower meadow on a gloomy afternoon, and this heralded the beginning of a fabulous 11 day period with stunning sunshine, rising temperatures and no rain.
Perfect for haymaking, and appreciating the glory of our upper meadow, but around July 19th, the first ever extreme heat warning was issued by The Met Office, culminating in 3 or 4 days when any strenuous work outside between 11.00am and 3pm was unbearable.
Rotational regular watering of many plants became necessary to avoid fatalities (thank goodness the very wet May had replenished groundwater levels, so our spring water supply held up, as it always has done in the past).
In spite of this, it was a wonderful month for insect activity around the garden and meadows, as the short You Tube clip below illustrates.
At last on July 27th, the weather began to break, thunderstorms ringed us but heavy rain largely missed us, and at last temperatures began to drop by 12 degrees C to the upper teens. Normality returned to upland Carmarthenshire. Though this was the first occasion I can recall that The Met Office began to talk about temperatures in the UK regularly hitting 40 degrees C in the years ahead, as climate change ramps up its apparently inexorable impacts on life here.
The month finished with a reasonable, but not an exceptional PV output, in part because of the very hot weather later in the month, and the rainfall total of just 77. 6 mm was on the low side for another month. The Met Office recorded it as being the fifth hottest July on record for the whole of the UK, though only the ninth hottest for the whole of Wales.