It’s raining, it’s pouring. Finally, and not a moment too soon. I cannot remember the last time I left my house in the morning rain to have it still raining when I returned ten hours later. 2018? And—cherry on top—we just got a few good cracks of lightning and some blessed rolls of thunder. Summer thunder and lightning, so rare in Britain, are two things I really miss from home.
After last summer’s drought, we had a pretty dry winter, a very dry spring, and just last week the whispers of the dreaded hosepipe ban gained volume. The plants—both those I tend and those growing wild—had a drawn-in and dusty look I associate with conservation of their most precious resource. When the plants feel stressed the gardener feels stressed, no two ways about it. No amount of hosepipe watering, an emergency measure at best, can make up for a good long soaking rain like we’ve had today. Tonight, I can physically feel the plants relaxing, stretching and unfurling as their leaves grow turgid again. Now, if they could only pick themselves up from where they’ve fallen face-down in the mud…
I never dreamed when I moved to England that I’d go through two summers in a row anxiously watching the live radar, willing the little green blobs to move over my garden. I suspect this unease is new to many gardeners in Britain, some of whom may have taken rainfall for granted. I come from a place where hot, dry summers are more typical than not, and where browned out grass in August is the norm. So I’ve lived it, but that doesn’t mean I like it, especially now that I live in a country where the high quality of horticulture has traditionally been possible because of naturally copious rain.
Today we’ve gotten a bit of a reprieve, and I’ll turn the central heating back on and pour myself a wee whisky to celebrate. It’s not your typical summer tipple, but as temperatures head back into the 40s tonight (single digits in Celsius), it seems appropriate. Thank goodness for this rain.