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Great Summer Early Autumn
8th September 2014
2014 has been a terrific year for gardeners with warm days and regular rain showers. My own garden has bloomed and I’ve not seen such abundant and fat vegetables for many a year.
The wildlife has benefitted every bit as much as my veg plot. We’ve seen huge numbers of dragonflies this year. All the solitary bee tubes filled by mid-April and I had to add many new ones to keep pace. As for the birds I can’t think of any that didn’t do well. Starlings, blackbirds and greenfinches all having two successful broods and robins, sparrows, goldfinches and swallows all having three! Red kite and buzzards successfully fledged young and our barn owls fledged two, a very healthy sign.
The vital element of all this productiveness was the lack of a late cold snap. Spring arrived almost to the exclusion of any frosts (I can’t remember scraping the car windscreen at all). This meant young seedling and flower blossoms survived without being checked, along with early brooding birds such as blackbirds and blue tits, which all regularly get caught out by a late series of frosty nights.
Another upside to the mild start is an exceptional natural harvest. Look at all the berries ripening on the trees, blackberry, holly, haw berry, elder and blackthorn all weighted down under the load. Fruit trees too are fit to burst with apples, pears and plums ripe and ready to pick. Our wildlife will benefit from all this food too, providing the numerous fledglings enough food to see them safely to the end of the year.
What I have noticed though, is that the early start to the year also seems to be heralding an early end. I’m looking around the farm at Ark Wildlife HQ and I’m thinking we’re a good two weeks, if not three weeks ahead this season. Fruit is already ripe on the trees, blackberries are finishing and the great oaks and beech are already showing hints of yellow and russet.
We are enjoying a time of plenty but just spare a thought that an early autumn may also herald an early start to winter. Nature can be very generous but equally harsh and it tends to balance out over time. Enjoy the good times but be prepared to help our wildlife later, if winter turns out to be longer than we first expect!