Busy July

Rain, rain, go away
Come again another day

Since its inception many years ago, rain had hardly ever (and probably never) fallen during LEAP’s Clear Out Day. 2014, however, did not obey the rules. Every time a bit of blue sky was sighted through the grey cloud cover, spirits rose, only to be dashed when the next torrential shower appeared. Hero of the hour was the gazebo, which offered shelter to quite a few people together with various objects. However, plants involved in the Plant Swap, which Lesley Wood kindly organized again this year, decided to stay outside and have a drink.

Carnival Day, on the contrary, was blisteringly hot. Once again, the gazebo was invaluable, this time in providing shade. LEAP had organised a Wild Flower Quiz, similar to last year’s, as it had been so popular. This one was also a great success, once people summoned up enough courage to have a go! There was quite a bit of controversy as to whether one of the exhibits was yarrow or hedge parsley (it washedge parsley) and about 5 people knew all the answers – no mean feat as the quiz wasn’t that easy

To commemorate the hundred years since the outbreak of war in 1914, Flanders poppy as well as wildflower seeds were given away so there should be some attractive wild patches next year in a few of Ewhurst’s carefully tended gardens.

In the Hurtwood and other parts of the Surrey hills, ground hurts (bilberries) are now plentiful and much enjoyed by dogs, possibly because they are at dog level. I have also spotted Burnet moths in the fields hovering over the thistles and bird’s foot trefoil. They have the most beautiful wings of translucent grey with red spots and in flight the wings appear red. I’ve never seen any before but it seems these moths are extremely common within the UK.

My next brush with local wildlife occurred one morning in the kitchen when I noticed a giant spider silently resting on my arm. How it had achieved that position was a mystery. Its legs reached from my elbow to half way up my arm. There was no doubt that this was a big spider. Trying not to panic, I moved quickly outside and managed to remove it (two attempts) onto the ground, hoping the dog wouldn’t eat it. Then I screamed. After recovering from this encounter, I heard a warning on Radio 4 regarding carnivorous slugs, which sounded very similar to the one (at least 8 ins long) that has been lurking in our compost bin for a while. They are supposed to have arrived from Spain, via a ship’s cargo of fruit and veg, and each of them rumoured to be able to demolish over 20 slug pellets with no ill effects. The carnivorous element of their diet is meant to be slug related, but I’m still not rushing to deposit any vegetable peelings from the kitchen into the bin at the end of the garden.

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