Summer 2010

I write this at the end of August after coming back from a damp walk in Gimswood. I was shocked to see signs that at least one bullock has had a wander round; how it escaped from the neighbour’s fields I cannot imagine. That and the rabbits merrily digging scrapes in the trackway...... and I found that one of my wellies has a hole in it!

And so to the weather report. The dry spring continued unceasingly into summer. The ground opened up with great cracks, as it does on Midlands clay. I am surprised that the dog did not break a leg; I lost my footing several times. And now at last we seem to be catching up with rain, but the cracks are as big as ever. The ponds have filled a bit, and the scrapes also have water in them with resident water beetles again. It is probably too late for the native and rare black poplar saplings planted last winter. Because of hay growing I was unable to water them until the hay was cut in mid July. So I shall continue to take cuttings, grow them on in the garden and plant them out when they seem strong enough. Good news: for the first time ever I have managed to maintain the female cuttings taken last winter; in other years by this time they have died off. I am therefore optimistic that something will come of them. I live in hope that one day there will be mature black poplars of both sexes in Gimswood.

All the other trees and shrubs seem unaffected by the drought, but where they found enough water I cannot imagine. The bad news is about the Guelder Roses (Viburnum opulus). The Viburnum beetles made a massive attack this year. In previous years it was almost possible to control them by squashing them, but year on year the damage was worsening. Now there are bare skeletons throughout the wood and I doubt they will have enough energy to try to put out leaf next spring. So it is Nature telling me that Gimswood does not need this species. Such a shame because it has lovely flowers, good autumn colour and berries for the birds; a general all-rounder.

Insects have been prolific. Butterflies of white, brown, blue and yellow colours fly up from the grass. Grasshoppers and crickets calling. Dragonflies both huge and small flitting about. Tiny frogs and toads jumping around, though I never seem to see adults. Birds flying over and in the trees, but I haven’t noticed any nests this year yet; they are more obvious when the leaves fall. It is full of lovely life. And already today I noticed berries on rowan, wild rose, wayfaring tree, a couple but not all sea buckthorn and one struggling Guelder rose. Soon, I suppose, the leaves will start to turn colour.