Monday 5 August. Dragonflies everywhere. They often fly over the fields down by the stream but I have never seen them in the flower field before. The dogs send up clouds of meadow brown butterflies on the evening walk. There's a deer by the edge of the woods, but she is gone before they see her.
Tuesday 6th August. As if I needed any reminder of the progress of the year, the hazelnuts start to fall. They lie cracked on the path, and whole in the hedge. There are hazel seedlings everywhere in the field and the orchard (and my mother's lawn) from nuts buried by squirrels. They dig up with the root and stem still attached to a cracked shell, like a botanical specimen.
Wednesday 7th August. The dahlias are out in earnest. I am baffled. All the tubers are saved from last year (I lifted) but I only recognise one or two. There is a prolific red with a yellow eye that I have never seen before. A pink and orange dinnerplate that is disconcertingly unfamiliar. It is like coming home and finding a stranger sitting at my kitchen table. I breathe a sigh of relief when Cornel opens, as solidly, roundly, reassuringly as wonderful as she always was. The tubers followed me home from Floret in the post and they are precious.
Thursday 8th August. There are wild plums in the hedge and two plum trees in the orchard. There was a damson but it was trouble from the start and I have chopped it almost to the base. The Majorie's Seedlings are ready and are beautiful. I think of roasting them with vanilla, but they don't make it as far as the house.
Friday 9th August. Gales arrive. They aren't forecast until Saturday afternoon but the wind whistles against the windows and underneath the doors. So at midnight I go out in my pyjamas to shut the greenhouse up (once the wind gets in, it blows straight through the panes to get out). The light is so eerie and flat, the glass is invisible. I have to touch each side to know that it is still there.
Saturday 10th August. We wake to a tree branch down at the front of the cottage. It has missed the power lines, and the thatch, despite being substantial. There is a row of three elderly lime trees along the road which tower over the cottages. Their branches are laden with mistletoe which adds to their vulnerability to weather. I cannot look at the field today. It is just a short week until nearly forty people are coming to see it and to cut from it, and in my mind's eye, I see everything flattened. I think that maybe I will explain to people that this is the reality of flower growing. That maybe I will explain that the reality is that the wrong weather can devastate a crop, that running a business means that you are at the mercy of things far beyond your control. That this is why I have a seed business, not a flower business. Because whilst my heart was in my mouth when I opened the field gate, the seeds were safely tucked up in their little jars and boxes in the protection of the studio.
Sunday 11th August. The day is spent thanking lucky stars that most things are relatively unscathed. Some dahlias restaking maybe and some of the rudbeckia triloba were always quite brittle. Hugo and I spend the day tidying and remedying damage until thunderstorms and torrential downpours drive us inside. (The girls do not garden. They prefer to be on the sofa and when Hugo is stung on the bottom by a bee they are unsympathetic.)