All-clear Posted on August 11, 2021

Could anyone calculate the tonnage of new leaves in our parks since it started to rain last week? Summer rain is of one of nature’s greatest luxuries; its first pitter-patter on a warm day one of its most delicious sounds. After a long drought it feels like the all-clear. Emergency over.

After nearly two weeks of daily rain the consolation, as you shake out your umbrella, is that ponds are brimming, streams are burbling, and autumn will be lush and leafy. The blue bags our London borough provides for garden rubbish are already full, waiting for their Wednesday collection. I’ve been snipping the surging shorts as never before, emptying saucers under the pots every day, watching what looks like Jack’s Beanstalk: Verbena bonariensis has overtaken the winter cherry, poking its flowers out through its branches to look down smugly on a mere tree. At midnight in the garden the sounds of rain and the constant splash into our little tank shuts out the world.

The year so far has borne out everything the boffins have predicted about global warming, though the extremes here have been more wet than warm. I feel almost guilty talking to friends in California, where the fire department is demanding firebreaks 200 yards wide – some of them through vineyards, which are relatively incombustible, compared with forest and brush. I fear wine is already being affected by warmer weather – not always for the better. If something is perfect, as great wines can be, how can it be improved?

Hugh’s Gardening Books


Trees was first published in 1973 as The International Book of Trees, two years after The World Atlas of Wine….

Hugh’s Wine Books

Hugh Johnson’s Pocket Wine Book

I wrote my first Pocket Wine Book in 1977, was quite surprised to be asked to revise it in 1978,…

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