Turning up the heat

I think the summer has arrived. Temperatures are hovering at or near 40C during the daytime. The nights are still beautiful, however, with cooling breezes.

While some occupants of the garden are visibly wilting, others are just coming into their own. Isn’t this the most wonderful thing about gardening? There is always something in the throes of coming into season, buds just opening, a new colour and fragrance to enjoy. Well, almost always!

So, as the red rose climbing over our pergola loses its colour, the honeysuckle (Lonicera japonica) has burst into clusters of sweet flowers seemingly all around the garden. For the moment, we have a honeysuckle, rather than a jasmine, gate; that will change later in the summer when the jasmine (J. officinale) takes over. We have jasmine growing along the hedge in several places. With its long trailing stems, this lovely climber tends to break out of the garden completely and twine itself into the trees planted along the pavement, spreading white flowers like stars above our heads and diffusing a sweet perfume into the night air.

Somewhat earlier than I had expected, the jacaranda tree (J. acutifolia) outside the gate has also burst into bloom, its eye-catching deep lavender clusters towering overhead : possibly because we have had several spikes of temperature over the past few weeks, the trees are ahead of themselves this year.

Meanwhile, Egyptian basil – presumably of the Ocimum family, though I am not sure about this – continues to flower profusely. Along with borage (Borago officinalis) and nasturtiums (Tropaeolum magus), originally grown from seeds brought from the UK but now entirely self-seeding, the plants provide ample food for the bees.

My husband’s most recent harvest of honey, taken last week, yielded nearly five kilos. Seen above, unstrained through muslin, the product of the hives this time is clear, sweet and more delicately flavoured than any we have had for some time. I have a feeling the more varied diet of springtime brings forth a gentler taste in the honey.

At the same time there are other harbingers of the end of spring: overhead, the European bee eaters are back, passing through on their way to northern Europe and making a diversion from the Red Sea (where we spotted them two weeks ago) to refuel in New Cairo. Poor bees!

 

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