Virginia Barton

29 July 2014: Apricots and Cherries


29 July 2014


If this is climate change could it please change back to what it was before?


The British Isles are known for a moderate climate. It rains gently and  frequently which is why it’s a green and pleasant land.  Girls are fair of face and the men dogged: characteristics of that perpetual soft dampness which makes for a grassy sward and leafy trees. Flash flooding in the glebes of Herefordshire, ruinous seas in Cornwall, and a mini tornado and hailstones the size of golf balls in the orchards of Kent are not proper to these isles.

It was never thus in the old days. School holidays could be relied upon for wall-to-wall sunshine in the summer, plenty of deep snow in winter, and random spring showers and a stiff breeze at Easter. Predictable weather you could rely upon.


For the last month we have been floored by heat and parched of rain – in Oxford that is. The poor garden has a yellow lawn (not only due to a pestilence of foxes), and a sad procession of shrunken transplanted offerings, so hopefully put in a couple of months ago to enliven the border.

Lugging the watering-can about has become an exhausting business to be put off till dark.


Aps and Chers


There is an upside of course. There has been no green or black-fly, and black spot is much reduced. The roses have thrived – I never water mine, hoping that their instinct is to search for water deeper and deeper into the ground, but the second flush will not, perhaps, be as great as the first. The pots of lovelies have been splendiferous except for the sweet peas; for some reason I’ve never managed a decent show of one of my favorite flowers.

For the first time since Elizabethan days (the first Elizabeth that is), apricots have been grown in sufficient quantity to sell in the shops; and British cherries have been superb.


By the end of July the swifts have flown to Africa, bulbs for next spring have been ordered, and the first Christmas presents bought and hidden under the bed. And of the hundreds and hundreds of quotes about tempus fugit, I can’t recall a single other that quite fits the bill.





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