Where is summer?

Mid May and temperatures are still hovering in the mid teens!  We did have some warm weather, hard to remember, it was back in March. Droughts and hose-pipe bans were widespread and then of course we had a record breaking wet April.

Not surprising we Brits obsess over the weather!  And what about our gardens?

There is an old proverb  ne’er cast a clout until may is out!  Which in modern English could be said to mean don’t put away your winter woolies until the may  (hawthorn) is flowering – although there is some ambiguity as to whether may refers to the month or the very common and very English Hawthorn. Which ever way you interpret it, it reminds us that we can still get cold weather & frosts well into May.  Not that we need reminding this year, when there is still such a nip in the air, but maybe its comforting to know it’s not that unusual.

There is no doubt the cold is holding back some plants. I like to think of them as staying snug under their blankets of earth, with quilts (mulch) of compost or bark chippings.  They will ‘show a leg’ as soon as the temperature feels right – they are much better attuned to it than we are.  Though they get caught out if we have a spell of warm weather followed by a chill – they can’t read the long range forecasts like we can!

And if the plants get caught what about the little critters.  The Swallows and House Martins arrived back only a few weeks ago and its been pretty cold and miserable for them.  At least there is plenty of mud for nest building!  A Swallow couple are re-using the nest they (probably the same pair) built last year in a purpose built space in our car port/garage.  We had to line the roof as in a previous year chicks have almost expired under the ‘hot tin roof’.  And put a false floor so that they don’t make to much mess on my car – and so that the neighbourhood cats can’t use the roof to jump up to get at the nest!  The things we do! They chatter away to each other and positively shout at us if we get in their way and they have become part of our summer.  The year after we nearly lost those three chicks to the heat (we actually hosed the roof regularly to take the heat away until the sun moved off) three Swallows returned – was this coincidence?

Right now I can’t imagine it being that hot – but who knows in our unpredictable climate. I did catch myself thinking ‘cold for the Swallows’ and ‘fan heater’ in the same moment! But I guess they’ve faced worst and they are protected from the wind and dry – and they are snuggled in together!

I’ll get on to the plants another day…..

Look at this – but make sure the tissues are handy first: http://beingstray.com/animal-stories/swallows-mate-life/

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