That was the summer that was (not!)

Having just come back from a celebration of the Autumnal equinox, I think the time is right to reflect on the (so-called) summer we’ve had this year here in York.

After monsoon June came not-very-dry July. Rain, rain, rain, rain, rain. In quantities and intensities I do not recall experiencing here before. The sun did come out on 10 August, which was very good of it – especially as my parents were having a garden party that day to celebrate their golden wedding anniversary. Their timing was good, as it soon started raining again …

Monsoon June in Heslington

The weather has been bad for butterflies this summer. No Painted Ladies at all. And fewer of the other species we normally see (Peacock, Red Admiral, Whites, Holly Blue, Comma, Speckled Wood).

On the other hand, the weather has been good for slugs. Very good. Very very good. I usually try to operate a fairly live-and-let live policy in the garden, but this year, the slugs became just too much. Every time I planted any vegetables in the garden, they would be eaten up as soon as I turned my back. Eventually I had to do something about this, and started going out on patrol. On a typical slug patrol in our 8m x 8m garden, I was collecting up 60 slugs!!

I got a bit tired of being out on slug patrol late at night, so in the end I opted for a beer trap instead. And was amazed by how instantaneously it worked. I put a container with some beer out on the patio, and watched transfixed as slugs appeared from all directions:

Slugs lured by beer on our patio

It was a good year for mosquitoes too. I don’t ever remember having mosquitoes to contend with here in Yorkshire, but from early August onwards, we couldn’t sleep at night unless we engaged in a mosquito hunt first. Otherwise, we’d just be drifting off when … whine … whine … whine … What’s that saying? If you think you’re too small to make a difference, try spending a night with a mosquito!

In late August we were on holiday in Herefordshire, and we had to cull mosquitoes in our room before we could get to sleep there too.

The prize for the Best Newcomer of the Summer to our garden goes, without a doubt, to the Leaf-cutter bees who visited our Sweet Peas for a week or so in July. They were so amusing to watch as they shovelled pollen onto their abdomens:

Leaf-cutter bee on our Sweet peas, July 07

The poem I wrote about them made it onto my Buzzing! CD (more about which anon …)

The prize for the Best Audio of the Summer goes to our mystery amphibian, who has been regaling us with his croaking for the last couple of weeks. We can trace where the sound is coming from (right under our dining room window), but have failed miserably to actually locate the creature making it. Is it a frog? Is it a toad? And why is it in our garden, when we (regrettably) have no pond! Having said that, it’s been so wet here all summer long that it must feel to them as if all the world’s a pond …

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