September 2003

Why do I always seem to be reporting on the weather? As I write in early September everything is incredibly dry. Gimswood has had only two episodes of rain all summer, because a little light drizzle doesn’t count. Those two episodes came at the exact right moment to keep the saplings alive, but now, after weeks of sunshine, the leaves are starting to turn brown and crispy or even to drop off. I have tried to fill in the cracks in the ground where a plant’s roots are exposed and amazingly some are even surviving that! It just shows that Life will attempt to continue if it possibly can. Isn’t Nature wonderful?

I am totally indebted to Karin and Evelyn. Karin trekked around with me to count all the plants and identify the survivors. Evelyn helped to collate the information. Therefore I can now report that of 3,574 saplings 202 have died, which is a loss of 5.56%. I had overplanted 11%, so there are still plenty “in hand” to cover any further deaths, for example from this drought.

I have left most of the apparently dead plants because they may sprout from the roots next spring. As I said earlier, they really do want to live if they can.

Of the successes, many of the Goat Willow look relatively huge and sturdy already. A few of the Oaks have shot up to peep over the top of the large tree guard. Just about all the surviving Alder Buckthorn have berries – and this is only the first year!

Some amazingly pretty caterpillars have appeared on Alder and Goat Willow. Trouble is, I never take my books with me, but of those seen we did identify the huge caterpillars of the Buff Tip moth and the smaller ones of Cinnabar moth on groundsel. There have been loads of Painted Lady butterflies among the myriad species that have been enjoying the proliferation of weeds. So weeds are not all bad news……

The ponds are, unsurprisingly, at a lowish level, but there is still plenty of water. In to the new pond I have planted seed from my home pond: Branched Burr-reed, Meadow Sweet, Water Plantain and something that is either Glaucous Club-Rush or Sweet Galingale (that’s the best I can do from my flower book). The pond at home has dried out: a unique situation. Surely it can never be as dry as this again??!!