It’s taken 12 summers of living on the left hand side of the Atlantic in Quebec, but I have finally worked out how to grow a passably green bit of lawn here (given that we are not allowed to use chemical assistance) and that is simply to have a lousy summer like 2009 when it rains two days out of three. What a difference this climate change has made after previous years of scorching sun … it’s warm enough but now there is a decent cloud cover most days and plenty of moisture. Wonderful. If only things could be arranged so that we had sun on the deck at weekends and evenings from 6 to 8pm to allow martini-hour to be taken in the open air then things would be perfect and to hell with all the whingers and moaners. A bit of rain is a good thing.
The other thing that is looking good this year is the Rowan tree growing in the front. The first summer were here I was fossicking about in the back of a scrappy border that came with the house and found a tiny sapling, planted by a bit of bird-poop no doubt, and decided to move it into the open to fill (fill – hah! – it was small but I had ambition) an otherwise wide open front aspect to the house. I rather expected it to succumb to heat and drought because it is not a favoured site but instead it got its roots down and thrived. This year it is some twelve feet high and covered in rapidly ripening berries that are already starting to attract birds. We have had berries before, but this year seems especially bountiful – again, perhaps aided by the rain.
The Starlings are starting to flock and small groups of Grackles and RWBlackbirds are gathering on the lawn so we know that the year is moving along and soon the autumn will arrive and then the snow. This summer has seemed especially short – not over yet but well past half way.
Footnote and bit of arcane information: Rowan trees are probably more widely known hereabouts as Mountain Ash, but Rowan is the name I grew up with. To quote from Wickipedia on the correct name for this tree …
The name “rowan” is derived from the Old Norse name for the tree, raun. Linguists believe that the Norse name is ultimately derived from a proto-Germanic word *raudnian meaning “getting red” and which referred to the red foliage and red berries in the autumn. Rowan is one of the most familiar wild trees in the British Isles, and has acquired numerous English folk names. The following are recorded folk names for the rowan: Delight of the eye (Luisliu), Mountain ash, Quickbane, Quickbeam, Quicken (tree), Quickenbeam, Ran tree, Roan tree, Roden-quicken, Roden-quicken-royan, Round wood, Round tree, Royne tree, Rune tree, Sorb apple, Thor’s helper, Whispering tree, Whitty, Wicken-tree, Wiggin, Wiggy, Wiky, Witch wood, Witchbane, Witchen, Witchen Wittern tree. Many of these can be easily linked to the mythology and folklore surrounding the tree. In Gaelic, it is caorann, or Rudha-an (red one, pronounced quite similarly to English “rowan”).
One particularly confusing name for rowans, used primarily in North America, is “mountain ash”, which falsely implies that it is a species of ash (Fraxinus). The name arises from the superficial similarity in leaf shape of the two trees; in fact, the rowan does not belong to the ash family, but is closely related to the apples and hawthorns in the rose family.
In Newfoundland and Labrador and Nova Scotia this species is commonly referred to as a “Dogberry” tree.