Denise: If the price for seeing the orchids on the croft is helping to carry all those steel posts, reels of wire and other fencing paraphernalia then alas I shall have to pull out my medical exemption note! I’ll happily make do with rambling in the garden, and the roses filling the air with a wonderful scent. (Which tells you how still un-Hebridean the weather has been of late – very still and warm.)
Denise: This evening Jonathan is paying the price for prioritizing jobs he enjoys over ones that need doing! At this time of year – and especially in this warm still weather, weeds are growing like mad. In the NW and SW corners of the walled garden, semi-wild ‘woodland’ is managed to encourage diversity of wildlife, including invertebrates, birds and small mammals. Weeds are tolerated – up to a point! Nettles make a very important contribution to diversity – attracting moths and butterflies – but can easily swamp out other species. We don’t try to eliminate them – just to control them enough to give other things a chance. The best way – the environmentally friendly way – to do this is to pull the stems just before the flowers open and are pollinated. Not all of them – just a proportion! That’s Jonathan’s job!! It’s usually done in late May to late June, and last week was more or less ideal – but J never seemed quite to get round to it. Now he wishes he had! Tonight a front – a weather front, that is – will pass over us, and behind that will come a day of cloud and rain. (Oh and don’t we need it, just!) Living here in the islands, we’ve become so much more familar with the way the weather changes! Before a front, the wind drops away completely, the air is heavy with humidity and the warmth and scents of summer … and midges. Millions of midges. Zillions of the blighters! And where is it worst? Yes that’s right … under the canopy of the trees, among the waist-high nettles! Even the best Insect-repellent (with DDT) only goes so far, and short of wearing a mask there’s nothing to stop the midges being drawn into the mouth or nose with every breath. And despite wearing a thick boiler-suit, industrial gloves and wellies, he’s been stung by the nettles on hands, forearms, and even his face. Well, he bravely got the job done – no complaints! He’s come in now, bitten and stung, washed off the oily insect repellent, thick with midges, flushed out his airways, taken anti-histamine tablets and applied anti-histamine cream. I doubt the wildlife appreciates the sacrifices made for them!