The longest day of the year, also called the summer solstice, has passed. We’ll have early sunrises, long days and late sunsets for a while yet, but days have begun to shorten. Us humans don’t notice that unless we make a conscious effort. Plants, however, notice and are putting in an extra effort of growth while the going is good. Many trees and shrubs push out extra shoots and fresh leaves in order to replace anything that got damaged by late frosts, drought or strong winds. These new shoots will have time to mature before late autumn.
Fruit have set and are now ripening. Some of them, like strawberries and summer fruiting raspberries, are ready to eat now. Currants and gooseberries need a bit more time. Apples, pears, plums and peaches will take another good while to ripen.
The young Braeburn apple tree is hanging on to its one apple and has produced a very late bunch of flowers which are now turning into tiny fruit. The tree is also branching out nicely, and the shoots are gaining in length and strength.
Vegetable production is happening, and the exotic trees sown earlier in the year continue to grow slowly but surely. So far, they’re not too keen on Irish weather. While we’re enjoying a good summer, the tree seedlings would clearly prefer higher temperatures. At the same time, cuttings taken from shrubs like Lilac and Hebe are thriving on cooler conditions. There’s just no accounting for taste.
A wildflower meadow sown last autumn is doing very well, same as a new border created over the winter which we filled with saved seeds, divided perennials and home-grown cuttings. It’s a great pleasure to see the colours and hear the buzzing of bees, bumblebees and other insects.