Sussex gardening: one swallow doesn’t make a summer

I had just finished watering this morning at six o clock and decided to sit on my allotment seat.

Friday, 26th June 2020, 4:46 pm

My Father-in-Law would often come out with the old saying “Sometimes I sits and thinks and sometimes I just sits.”

Looking up to the sky I noticed three swallows darting backwards and forwards catching insects.

It started me thinking back to when I was a boy, when I would see the sky full of swallows and later in the year would see the telephone lines with twenty or thirty swallows all chattering to each other as if giving instructions for their journey back to South Africa.

Swallows (stock image)

I read recently that a lot of swallows had been killed in the storms in Greece this year.

I think it is one of the wonders of nature how a little bird weighing not much more than a pen, should be able to fly from Africa each year and find the exact nest where it had made its home the previous year. I spent many a holiday on Corfu and remember walking around the town and hearing the constant chattering of the swallows.

Most of the tavernas would have a swallow’s nest quite low down on the walls and the locals would very often paint the nests white.

When we walked past the nest there would be two or three little chicks poking their heads out taking no notice of the constant passers by.

Sunday saw the passing of the longest day of the year, which signalled the time for me to lift my shallots and garlic.

I always try and keep to the old adage of planting the shallots and garlic on the shortest day and lifting them on the longest.

It has been ideal weather to leave them on top of the ground to dry out before stringing them and hanging in the shed for use later in the year.

This hot weather combined with my watering each day has made the runner beans climb almost to the top of their sticks and flowers are starting to show at the bottom of the beans.

Even my dahlias are starting to flower, which is a good two or three weeks earlier than normal.

I have just come back from visiting some old friends who live in Haslemere. I couldn’t help noticing as we drove along, how many flowers were on the sweet chestnut trees.

It should be a bumper year for chestnuts this year.

About three years ago my friends decided to downsize to a little cottage in the town and asked me if I would help them design the garden which had a six foot high fence on both sides. We decided to make a small scalloped border on both sides and plant pink and white climbing roses against the fence combined with blue, pink and white clematis.

The rest of the garden was brick paved to make a seating area, with pots scattered about planted with patio roses, white cosmos and silver senecio “Angel Wings”.

Now all the plants have got established, the garden looks, a picture.

My wife and I spent a wonderful afternoon with our dear friends sitting in their garden eating smoked salmon and prawns for lunch accompanied by a lovely green salad washed down with an excellent white wine.

Life does not get much better than that.