I have tried explaining to various people. They smile and nod and carry on with their conversations.
This year, there has been an effusion of vegetative matter, the like of which I have never seen before. Does that sound so far-fetched?
Although the winter was not cold, and April saw the usual sunny spells, everything was late. Even by June, the Ash trees were only coming into leaf. One usually notices the road verges dotted with wildflowers by the end of May, beginning of June. This year, there was nothing but the acid yellow flowers of the gorse.
Then, in July, it all went berserk. You’d expect the flowers to have faded by August, but here we are, the 18th, and the valley is filled with Pennyroyal, Rose Bay Willow, Purple Loosestrife, escaped garden Crocosmia lily, thistle and much, much more.
It is the sheer exuberance, the density of the tree canopy, the impenetrability of the ground-cover; the sheer height of things – the invasive but pretty Himalayan Balsam, surely never more than four feet high, everywhere towering over my head. Spreading bramble thickets you can barely see over, choking under great mats of cleavers and trumpet vine ; yellow masses of ragwort, vast clumps of reed grass in the dried-out bogland; the proliferation of Goat Willow, of ripening sloes and acorns, of hazelnuts littering the valley floor, already their nut cases emptied for the squirrels’ larders.
What on earth are we to attribute this astonishing outpouring of green stuff to? I’m in my sixties and I’ve worked as a gardener for almost 20 years and I can honestly say I’ve never witnessed anything like this in my life. Is it just a freak year, unusually favourable weather? Is it to do with last year’s early winter storms and long hot Autumn? Global warming, record levels of atmospheric CO2? A one-off, or a significant annual event in years to come?
It might be a sign: Nature’s desperate last gasp.