Cats and Commas

30 July 2023

Cats and Commas

Scotland’s year of climate anomalies seems to be continuing with each successive month breaking another record as the hottest, wettest or the windiest since records began.

June 2023 was the hottest ever on record for the UK, it was drier than average and it was the third sunniest on record. We spent most of June watering all our newly planted vegetables, trying to help them flourish until a few days before the Summer Solstice when it began to rain, then it rained, and it carried on raining.  The legend says that if it rains on St. Swithun’s day, July 15th,  it will rain for another 40 days, so by my reckoning, it should stop on August 24th!

Please, don’t misunderstand me. As a gardener I am delighted with the damp weather, but those of us with children on their school holidays or people waiting to paint the outside of their house are understandably disappointed and it has proved difficult to get the lawns cut. However, without the cold, frosty winters and the moist, warm summers, we would never have had such a stunning blackcurrant harvest. The berries were so huge and in such profusion that it almost felt like we were picking bunches of grapes!

Blackcurrent
The long spell of unbroken June sun has brought a flourish of butterflies hatching out in July.
We have had many ‘Red Admirals’, ‘Small Tortoiseshells’, ‘Cabbage White’ and ‘Peacocks’. One of our volunteers even spotted a ‘Purple Hairstreak’ near the oak trees at the woodland edge but we were lucky to catch this picture of a resting ‘Comma’ butterfly – one of the more successful butterflies recently as the increasing temperature is helping it to proliferate across the whole UK.

It has brightly coloured, orange and brown wings with very ragged edges which help it to look like a crinkled leaf on a tree or bush but if you look closely, you will see the distinct white, comma marking on the underwing which gives the butterfly its name.

Coma
‘Drummond’, our rescue cat, is settling in well to his new surroundings, and he now feels brave enough to venture outside in daylight.
He has been seen sitting in the sunshine, scurrying across the courtyard into his ‘house’, walking nonchalantly across the grass in the Enclosed Garden or slinking about in the undergrowth obviously on patrol. ‘Drummond’ is about three and a half years old and we chose him from the local cat rescue group. He had been living as a feral cat and so he was ideally suited to come to our gardens and help chase away the mice and voles that love to eat our juicy vegetables. We can tell when he has been out hunting as he sleeps late the next morning, and although we were told that he was not interested in human contact, it seems to us that he is actually ‘a big softie’ who loves a cuddle or an ear rub just as much as any other cat.
Drummond
We have a larger area of grass in the Enclosed Garden, and it seemed just the right size to locate our most recent grass pattern – The Labyrinth.
There is quite a bit of confusion between labyrinths and mazes, but labyrinths have a single continuous path which takes you to the centre, and if you keep going forward, you will get there eventually. Mazes have multiple paths, some with dead ends, which branch off and do not always lead to the centre. Our labyrinth consists of seven ‘spirals’ and the path is 186 metres long from start to centre, 372 metres if you walk back out again. If you were to walk into the centre and back out 108 times you will walk the equivalent of the circumference of the Earth but that might take quite a while to complete and if you lose count you would have to start all over again!!!
labyrinth
PS I called this blog ‘ Cats and Commas’ Do you know the difference?
A cat has paws at the end of its claws and a comma is a pause at the end of a clause.

Written by Margaret
Margaret is the Head gardener and leads the Gardening team.

Catherine Bradley.<br />

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