Iceberg in Heatwave

Visitors to the Minster stop and gaze at our June glory – two standard rose bushes smothered in blossom, as they have done ever since I planted them over 15 years ago. I had long forgotten their name, though I could see them on my closed eyelids wherever I happened to be. Then someone informed me they are iceberg roses, so that is what I tell the visitors to the Minster who come over to ask me, or passers-by, if I happen to be in the front garden. They congratulate me, but all I do is to water and deadhead them and the bushes to the rest every year, on cue. Every year they flower profusely in June and again, more sedately, in September.

They are also beautiful viewed from inside the two front bow windows, even in the rain, though that is only a dream when in the midst of a heatwave. Hoping not to spoil the cohesion of the blooms, I inspect them daily to snip out the wilting sections so hidden buds can peep out and take their turn to bloom. Beverley may again reach the finals of ‘English towns in bloom’ competition, and I try to feel that the iceberg roses have done their little bit!

Last Sunday a nearby village organised and Open Gardens day. Fifteen of them could be visited for £5 a person, and that included a cup of tea and cake. It was to raise money to repair the Village Hall roof, and it was there we paid our £5 and found a table of cakes and scones. After refreshments, we set off to visit as many as possible on the map provided with a sticker serving as our ticket. The first was laid out in small terraces up a hillside with statues surrounded by shrubs of contrasting colours and texture, with stone steps, gravel paths and the owners there ready to answer questions. On we went to the next, the shortest way being through the village church from north door to south one and into the walled garden next door. Fig trees were ranged along the south wall with figs ripening in the summer heat.

Another tiny garden had a tree hut and a stork statue with its beak on a spring to pull or wave it from side to side. It intrigued the younger visitors. Others had shady pergolas, few nowadays with the once- popular laburnum and its bright yellow flowers that turn into poisonous seed pods – remember Daphne du Maurier’s My Cousin Rachel?

Is this heatwave produced by the global warming that everyone now seems to accept as inevitable? Hay that used to be cut in July is already in bales wrapped in, ugly blobs in the fields? When the rain comes, the grass will sprout to produce a second hay harvest. In the past, school summer holidays were supposed to set children free to help bring in the harvest in late July and August. No more, the wheat and barley fields are shooting up so rapidly that they will soon be ready to harvest – before the inevitable thunder, lightning and rainstorm?

The back garden

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