News letters

Dear Member,

Here’s one of our ‘Occasional’ newsletters ……. this one to remind you
how tricky April was for gardeners – and to let you know of a
continental warning on what to expect of mid-May.

You’ll also find a light-hearted take on the British obsession with
lawns and very tempting cake recipe ……

So go on, forget your waistband for a day or two and give it a try!

MAY 2021

Are we nearly there? Will we soon be able to meet who we want, where we want – or will caution continue to dog our every step?

However the next few weeks and months shake down for you and yours, here’s hoping life starts to seem better – and your garden to repay your labours; certainly we’ve had lovely displays of spring flowers, now, sadly, going over – but they’re making way for the Forget-Me-Nots that change the garden from yellow to blue.

As if you needed it, here’s a reminder of what you’ve have had to deal with over the last month:

  • Lots of clear skies gave us a frosty, chilly month – the Met Office revealed we’ve had the third lowest average UK minimum temperature for April since records began in 1884.  
  • Despite the many lovely days with good spells of sunshine, The National Climate Information Centre reported April temperatures in the five lowest on record. In addition to the minimum temperatures, average daily maximum temperatures were unusually low.
  • It was a sunny April, with sunshine hours reaching the top five records since 1919. The UK as a whole has had its sunniest April on record at 218.8 hours. This is 48% more hours of sunshine than the average for April. Each country within the UK had at least 40% more sunshine than the long term average.
  • But the daytime sun didn’t keep the frost away and we have had to face the damage the cold has done to our plants. Many of the most vulnerable plants have been going in and out of greenhouses, conservatories, cold-frames and spare rooms – night after night!
  • April had its highest degree of air frost for 60 years. There was an average of 13 days of air frost – beating a previous record from 1970 which was 11 days. This trend would normally be expected during winter months but not in April, when the average number of air frosts would be five days.
  • We’ve had a record-breaking number of overnight ground frosts – 22 days compared to the average of 12 at this time of year.
  • This was one of the driest April months on record: on average, the region has seen just 3 and a half millimetres of rain  – which  beat the previous record for a dry spell set almost 110 years ago.

But read on for a little matter which gardeners over the Channel and North Sea like to take into account …. and a lovely recipe from Ingrid.

THE ICE SAINTS….

In parts of  Europe folklore predicts the arrival of the ‘Ice Saints’ between May 11th and May 15th.  They were bishops and martyrs of the fourth and fifth centuries.

St Pancras is best known in Britain as a railway station and the beginning of continental holidays by rail, but he is also a member of a group known as the Ice Saints. Their chilly collective name comes from the traditional belief that their days, 11th – 15th May, bring cold weather and the last frost of the year. Some gardeners in France will not plant until the Ice Saints have gone. They are well known in Germany, Poland, Austria and Switzerland.

  • May 11th: St Mamertus Day
  • May 12th: St Pancras Day

 May 13th: St Servatius

May14th: St Boniface of Tarsus, and

  • May15th: St Sophia of Rome – also known as ‘Cold Sophia’
  • The alleged mid-May cold spell was investigated by some pupils of Galileo, who diligently recorded the weather from 1655-70. They reported a marked cold snap over the days of the Ice Saints, and later studies seemed to confirm their finding. It was even theorised that a belt of asteroids blocked out the sun’s rays over this period.
  • *     The Ice Saints were often said to arrive early or late, and in meteorological terms, the last winter cold fronts do tend to pass by around this period. A review of Kew Gardens data from 1941-69 showed that 13 May was usually the warmest day of the month, but was followed by a sharp drop in temperature.
  • But in 1902 William Dines, President of the Royal Meteorological Society, used modern statistical techniques to demonstrate that the Ice Saints were a myth, brought about by selective reporting.

Whether unreliability and lack of punctuality are enough to dispel all credence in Ice Saints is a matter for you – but I’ll be keeping a beady eye out for any sign of frost until the end of the month…

DUTCH APPLE CAKE

A really lovely, moist and moreish cake …

7 ounces plain flour

5 ounces butter

5 ounces sugar

2 medium eggs

2 – 3 tablespoons milk

Few drops Vanilla Essence

Pinch salt

Half teaspoon baking powder

2 large eating apples (Granny Smiths)

Cream butter and sugar, add eggs one by one stirring continuously.. Add milk.

Sieve flour and baking powder and salt. Mix all well into a smooth creamy mixture.

Put into an eight inch cake tin – starting with layer of mixture, then a layer of sliced (not too thin) apple and finishing with another layer of mixture.

Bake in a moderate oven 350F; 180C degrees,   No. 4 gas – for 60 t0 70 minutes.


  JUNE 2021

BRRR! PHEW! BRRR! PHEW!

So – April’s very hot and dry days gave way to the coldest and driest April nights on record: 22 overnight frosts compared to the usual 10-12. Then came the coldest and wettest May since Google alone knows when …. and here we all are looking at our flowers and vegetables running weeks behind normal. Even bluebells slammed on the brakes to make sure they weren’t caught out and damaged by late frosts ….

We’re confused by it all, but just imagine what our plants are making of it …… and, much, much more importantly, how insects and birds and all wildlife is coping …. if the natural world continues to get out of sync then the stark and catastrophic reality of climate change will rapidly become something we can no longer push to the back of our minds.

But maybe, read on, we’ll soon spot some governmental action, (late, but better late than never, I hear some say ..)

SOCIETY NEWS:

A MESSAGE FROM MAL REYNOLDS:

As your Chairman I was particularly disappointed with the decision to delay the lifting of lockdown restrictions and the continued effect on being able to hold the Society’s AGM.  We have missed two AGMs and it is my intention to hold one as soon as guidelines permit, which hopefully will be mid August.  It remains the Committee’s intention to hold a Flower and Produce Show hopefully on the 18th September so please keep that important date in your diary – and eyes peeled for a change of venue.

In addition, a social evening and hopefully an apple /pear juicing day are being planned.  

I hope that you are all keeping well and benefitting from the produce from your garden and/or allotment.  The Store continues to be open on Saturdays between 0900 and 1130 hrs and should you wish to discuss any matters I am there most of the time.

VISIT TO GEOFF HAMILTON’S BARNSDALE GARDENS: https://www.barnsdalegardens.co.uk

These famous gardens are now open to group visits …. at the time of writing dates in August are available

If we can muster 20 visitors the entry fee will be £9.00 per head as opposed to £11.00.

The gardens are about an hour down the A1 from Lincoln – and we’d have to travel under our own steam …..

Available dates are limited so please, as a matter of some urgency, send expressions of interest to Dave Cordingley, with your anticipated numbers and contact details.

01522 523640

07 456 607 112 (text only please)

bobandcogs@ntlworld.com