Garden Views-07-July 2022

After the nearly 100 mm of rain in the last week of June, we began July with no water worries, the stream restored to a more normal flow, and some pleasant respite from plant watering in the garden.

The small third cast swarm from my Swedish butter churn hive refused, for some unknown reason, to fly off to a new home – perhaps it couldn’t find one.

Eventually 4 days after I’d first noticed it, we returned from a day out to find it had gone, leaving just a few traces of wax on the leaves of the apple tree.

Cloudscapes continued to be lovely on many days, though the month started with quite cool temperatures. After a strange gap with no garden visitors for nearly 2 months, we welcomed a lovely couple who’d travelled down from Anglesey, after researching their family history and discovering that back in the 1850s the wife’s family had lived at Gelli. Fortunately, the rain largely held off and they had a wonderful time looking around the garden and meadows.

After such a dry start to the year, the annual potato harvest came early and was the most disease-free ever. Leeks and kale quickly filled the vacant space. In my move to maximise homegrown produce, our list of vegetables diminishes annually, restricted to ones we’ll eat, and which are fairly easy and productive – lettuce, leeks, carrots, squash, potatoes, kale, courgettes. I tried spinach again this year, and it all bolted, so it’ll be just kale from now on, which although it suffers from the inevitable caterpillar damage, recovers really well come autumn.

Rambling roses, continued in flower into early July, with ‘Kiftsgate’ and ‘ ‘Félicité-Perpétue’ and its seedlings taking over the baton from the earlier forms, along with our select few disease-resistant shrub roses.

Hydrangeas began to bloom in early July, a little later than some years.

As the weather turned hot and sunny after the first week, and we returned from a few days away, more hay was cut in perfect conditions, and as temperatures rose, we were once more into watering plants and water conservation mode.

This weather continued with temperatures suddenly spiking around the 18th and 19th when new maximum temperatures were passed in Wales and the UK generally, as outlined by the Met Office here.

Outside, the temperatures were unbearable for much of the day – for us and the wildlife.

Inside thanks to our eco-friendly internal insulation, the kitchen stayed amazingly cool as the temperature soared around mid-afternoon.

Whilst some individual plants suffered, much of the garden coped remarkably well with the heat and drought.

No more rain fell before July23/24th when a very welcome 29 mm in 24 hours, followed by 42.4 mm in the next 24 hours, restored things to more normality, or what currently passes as such in upland Wales.

With enough hay in the hay sheds for next winter, we prioritised spreading green hay into all of our other paddocks, to boost floral diversity there.

Already, the aftermath growth in the lower meadow was looking very floriferous, despite the dry conditions.

The month finished with more drizzle, and a rainfall total of 112.11 mm, the weather worsening just in time for a visit by some of the grandchildren. Although July 31st saw the sun emerge after lunchtime, a Hummingbird hawkmoth visit the Buddleja, and whilst down at the stream having a duck race, and kick sampling with a net for stream invertebrates, a Kingfisher flew past in both directions – the first sighting for 2022.

Clearly without the 2 very wet days late in the month, it would have been yet another very dry month. As it was, across the UK as a whole it was an exceptionally dry month, as the Met Office summary illustrates. The PV inverter record of 490KWH shows how it had quite light levels and sunshine, fairly evenly spaced throughout the month.