It's been another perfect summer hasn't it?
Well, ok we haven't had the much anticipated barbeque summer but , realistically, we were never going to get that. We have become suddenly quite accepting of unrealistic aims in the last decade. The ever increasing Americanisation of the British lifestyle has seen the dismissal of such hitherto relished delights as makinbg mud pies, long walks over verdant hills and wearing a vest under your summer clothes. In fact, summer itself is now expected to last much longer than the old six week period we were used to and which fitted the government issued compulsary summer break.
Now, thanks to cable television and cheap foreign holidays, we all want, no demand, a three month summer of blistering heat. We need at least desert conditions so we can dry roast ourselves in suburban gardens and eat chargrilled offal every evening from mid March until October.
Now, I like my full english served up poolside with a columbian blend coffee and freshly squeezed juice as much as the next man but I'm happy if it happens once or twice a year but I would happily forego that delight if it means retaining the temperate climate that allows my South African Alliums to flower alongs side my Himalayan Rhododendrons and my Australian Phormiums. I am aware that we like warm and dry more than damp and cold but if we want to remain the uniquely diverse island that we are, we need those rainfalls for our forests and flower meadows as much as we love the sun baked beaches and the snow capped Fells. This country reveals in such a huge influx of international tourists for the very same reason we like to moan: the weather. The range of conditions we enjoy here are the envy of the world as far as gardeners are concerned. Farmers may not like them because they specialize in sinlge crops but a gardener grows as big a spread of plant varieties as they can sustain and as such, we love the ever changing moods of Mother Nature. This year my crops, those I have had time to sow, have enjoyed days of high humidity, evenings of warmth and nights of mild but refreshing rain. We even had the ideal weather for about a week in May, days of hot dry sun with a slight breeze for pollenation, mixed with nights of straight rain from dusk until dawn. Perfect weather and perfectly British.
So, yes, I like to bake and tan but I can either pop on a plane to a foreign soil for that or crawl through traffic on a bank holiday and find it on a square metre of sand in Cornwall. Give me my Chinese veg and spicy italian herbs, bring me my home grown Apricots and frshly dug new potatoes. You can keep your Big Mac and Fries, give me wellies and grey skies. I love my British short lived summers!