The Changing Seasons ~ And So Many Of Them In June

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I’ve read, just the other day in fact, that rain and dew drops caught in the leaves of Lady’s Mantle were much sought after by alchemists. They called them ‘moon water’, a deemed essential ingredient in the making of the philosopher’s stone, which in turn would change base metal into gold.

This plant’s transformative powers are also suggested in the old common name alkmelych  (alchemy) and preserved too in its botanical name Alchemilla vulgaris. Today medical herbalists prescribe it as a gynaecological tonic, in particular for balancing menopausal symptoms or resolving irregular menstrual cycles. The leaves and flowers are made into an infusion.

Anyway, the reason I mention this and indeed took the header photo is down to those big juicy drops. They mark the most transforming-transformative element of the month of June: RAIN. After a long dry spring, many weeks wherein our stolid Silurian soils set hard as concrete round limp and fainting plant life, we have finally had some good downpours; some of them quite torrential (as in stair rod assaults). We have also had hail and thunder. And in between, some over-heated sun-soaked days that made us think we had gone to the Mediterranean (while blissfully saved the airport check-in). But now, as the month comes to a close, the weather is more like late September – wind, drizzle, coolness and gloom. The allotment cabbage plots are happy though: just their kind of climate.

Surprisingly the dry spell has not noticeably curtailed production. Already garden harvest time is in full swing: peas, beetroot, lettuce, first potatoes, strawberries, raspberries, courgettes and broad beans. We’ve also had so many globe artichokes this year, I’ve had to prepare them en masse as hearts, braising them in olive oil and garlic. They can be eaten hot or cold.

As one crop finishes, so there is ground to clear, which means planning for the mid to late summer sowing and planting. Still lots to think about then. Mostly I’m thinking about fennel, various kinds of endives/chicories, carrots and spinach.

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Around the town the paths and lanes, and especially the Linden Walk have been drenched in lime flower scent. It is astonishing how these tiny green-gold, dusty looking  inflorescences  can produce such a heady perfume. They do of course have highly sedative properties  and should only be used with great care. No harm in some heavy sniffing though – as one passes by.

Early one morning, during the hot spell, I was doing just that, on my way to visit Windmill Hill. At 7 a.m. the sun was lighting up a lime tree by the children’s playground; the warmed perfume stopped me in my tracks: honeysuckle tempered with strains of citrus. Aaah!  Up on Windmill Hill there were however distinct signs of the recent drought. June is the time of the annual orchid count. It was corona-ed this year of course, but anyway, there were only a few pyramidal orchids to be seen there. Hopefully their little tubers have not been totally desiccated and are saving themselves for more salubrious conditions next year. (Aren’t we all). Even the Lady’s Bedstraw was struggling to bloom. Usually the hillside below the windmill is a mass of limestone meadow flowers in early summer. There were at least some very handsome musk thistles.

Another noteworthy wildlife sighting this month has been the large number of scarlet tiger moths about the place. Soon there will be a lot more if the scene in our back garden flowerbed is anything to go by. At rest they are not always so immediately noticeable: cream and amber spots on black. But in flight there are flashes of scarlet ‘skirts’ as they dart by. Very fetching.

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The Changing Seasons: June 2020  Please visit Su who hosts this challenge – not only for her lovely photos, but also for a very delicious soup recipe.

P.S. Cannot fathom this new system or how to put galleries where I want them. Hmph!

49 thoughts on “The Changing Seasons ~ And So Many Of Them In June

  1. Everything looks delicious on your allotment. You certainly put in a lot of hard graft to achieve those rewards. I have never seen a Scarlet Tiger Moth – they are beauties. As for the galleries if you are using the new block editor you just need to move the gallery block to where you want it. You should see an arrow at the left side of a block which you click to move it up or down in position. I am remaining with the classic editor for as long as I am able to!

    1. Thanks for that valuable info, Jude. I was trying to stick with classic editor too, but couldn’t see how to make a gallery without opting for blocks. What a faff!

  2. I’m thinking the same as Jude; your allotment produce looks wonderful. A lovely reward for all the work you put in.

    I mentioned your Nigel Slater pasta, pea and pesto recipe to T the other night. He slightly misheard me and made a pea pesto (to go with some gnocchi). It was very good, and would have been better if we’d had basil, and more mint than I could be bothered picking in the dark, and in pouring rain.
    I’m still keen to try Nigel’s recipe, but T is itching to try his again with spuds — having heard that part of what I said ok.

    1. Pea pesto sounds an excellent variation. Well done, T for this accidental innovation. And with gnocchi too. The sounds delicious. Pea pesto might be rather good with fish too.

  3. So where’s the gold now? 😳😉. I feel much cooler after this lovely walk through your garden. If you want to see some really hard soil, you’re welcome to visit me anytime. LOL. That moth is beautiful and those raspberries make my mouth water.

    1. That’s a good question, Janet. I wonder where those alchemists stashed their loot. As for your ‘really hard soil’, the thought of that is making my gardener’s heart quail. Oh dear.

  4. Rasps and peas for me- separately please, Tish. 🙂 🙂 I noticed there was an update on galleries from WP in the Reader? I didn’t read it because I’ve not put my toe in that particular kettle of fish yet. I do like a mixed metaphor!

    1. I spotted that too after reading Jude’s helpful comment. Think it was on the stats/home page. Meanwhile, toes in kettles of fish sounds perfectly apt for WP encounters 🙂

  5. Fascinating. Never knew you could make tea from lime tree flowers (taking care as you say). Now I’ve looked them up, they seem to be a remedy for many illnesses. Next time I visit the herbalist I’ll try to remember to ask about them.

    1. Fascinating isn’t it. Dr Penny Brookes who planted the trees in the 1860s was also a Padua trained herbalist. Given his concerns over Wenlock people’s general wellbeing – body and mind – I suspect his choice of tree for the Linden Field and other places round the town, was not accidental. My herbal book also says lime flowers have been successfully used to wean people off barbiturates.

    1. Well we all assume it is, and the hill has long been called Windmill Hill, but when the tower was excavated and examined in some detail a few years ago, there was no evidence found of any superstructure that might have supported sails. Also the historical researches didn’t throw much light on it either. My theory is that it might have been a beacon, perhaps built in the Civil War. There were plenty of Roundhead and Royalist skirmishes across this region.

  6. I enjoyed that visit immensely, Tish. You are to be congratulated on the loving you are giving your garden. It has certainly delivered for you. The raspberries look divine. How do you manage to save them from the birds? Also, I do hope your pyramid orchids bounce back.

    1. That’s an interesting question about birds, Tracy. For some reason they mostly leave the raspberries alone. An absence of a solid perch perhaps helps; there are only posts at the ends of the rows, and my plants have grown so tall they’ve hidden them.

      1. I see. Perhaps I have been unfairly blaming the birds for my lack of berries. It must be my dogs then. Anyway, my poor raspberries died last year in the heat and drought! So I’m quite envious of your crop, Tish.

      2. I used to have strawberry-eating dogs. They even managed to nose their way under the netting, the rotters. I’m thinking you might have more fruit-eating birds in your part of the world, and therefore more determined scroungers. And now you’ve made me think: the last day or so as I’ve been walking to and fro across the field to the allotment, there seems to be a marked shortage of birds this year. Must look into it further.

  7. The dwarfs can turn lead into gold …
    Opening paragraph of the Truth – Pratchett. Thought I’d include it. Seems appropriate.
    Smashing post. Love the shot of the raspberries. Imagine that enlarged on a canvas and hung on a wall. The colour is striking.
    Emily just walked past and said: ”Oh, my god, they look delicious. I want to grow one. Tell Tish I am just slightly jealous.”
    Ems is slightly jealous. There. I told you.
    We use raspberries for baking from time to time and they cost a small fortune at Woollies.

    I was doing some face time with the folks this morning and my mum looked out the window and stated. ”Looks like rain … again.”
    Ah, the English weather. I often wonder what there would be talk about if you had no ”weather” .
    🙂

    1. I know, we obsessive weather watchers. We go on about it all the time. But then it’s been so active lately. Do you think you might get hold of raspberry canes in Jo’burg. They’re pretty easy to grow.

      1. We haven’t looked into it, but your photo has prompted interest. We shall inquire at a local nursery …. donpt know if they are open yet?

      2. Yeah, they are doing fine, so they tell me. And they look well when we video chat.
        The kids and grandkids are spread all over the place. London,France Australia, SA. One of my sister’s lads is crewing on a yacht in the Caribbean somewhere!
        However, I do have a nephew, Callum, who lives in Chester and looks in on them, and at the beginning of the pandemic was doing their shopping.
        He’s recently ”opened” ( Corona stalled) a vegan restaurant in Chester.
        That will be something to visit when we go back for a hol.

      3. All good luck to your nephew. Opening a new restaurant when so many are closing, or so it’s reported. Still, Chester has a big student population (once they’re let back) so am sure a vegan restaurant will be v.v. popular.

    1. What’s going on in your neck of the woods? I’ve been reading that parts of the US and Canada have been suffering bouts of v. cold weather this year. Weather apart, benighted is the right word for 2020. I feel we’re in for more ‘benightment’ as the consequences unfold.

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