Monday, June 11, 2007

June in England

Roses in our back garden.

May is the season of bluebells in the woods and white blossoms of hawthorn, or may, in the hedges. May also brings the laburnums into bloom, with their cascades of yellow flowers. Finally, late May brings the roses and, in the fields, the buttercups and daisies. The stinging nettles are also back in full force, crowding around every kissing gate.

After a dry and mild April, this past May was one of the wettest in the past century. In fact, April was the driest month of the year so far in Warwickshire, with a spell of eighteen days without rain (April 4-21) and a scant five millimeters of total precipitation. Five times that amount of rain fell on a single day in May (May 13), and May ended with a total of 141mm. of rainfall for the month.

In the Lake District, which is further north than Warwickshire, we were getting more than seventeen hours of daylight almost four weeks before the summer solstice. On our first night in Dacre, I stood in the churchyard at 9:30 in the evening and watched a spectacular rainbow that seemed to stretch from Penrith to Ullswater. Here, there is now light in the sky (and loud birdsong outside the window) from just after 3:00 in the morning until after 10:00 at night.

June has started with ten days of dry weather, but the rain should be moving in again soon. The black-and-white cows are lying down on the humps and bumps of Henry V's pleasure ground beyond the castle. In the garden, the roses have already begun to drop their petals.

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