Two twinned apple trees.

 

Le jumelage entre Oxford et Grenoble remonte à plus de trente ans et a commencé par un lien entre les deux fameuses Universités de chaque ville. Mais pour entretenir des liens d’amitiés, il suffit quelquefois de gestes plus modestes. Ainsi pour le 30ème anniversaire du jumelage (2019) sur le thème “Nature et Jardins”, deux jeunes pommiers (crab tree) ont été plantés dans un des jardins partagés (allotment) des deux villes. Après la parenthèse du Covid19, on retrouve deux ans plus tard, un commentaire de Phil Baker, membre de l’association des jardins partagés à Oxford.

 

We have had one of the coldest and driest Aprils on record and it is only in the last 3 days we seem to have said `goodbye’ to overnight frost. As a result most things in the vegetable garden are very late getting started this year. People who did put things out have lost them or they have been set back and may not grow well. Climate change is undoubtedly making itself felt, in stronger, more frequent storms and disruption to the traditional seasons. That said, the pandemic has given rise to almost unprecedented interest in gardening and allotments; across the city waiting lists for plots total over 350 now. The other, less welcome, impact is the prices of plants and supplies at local nurseries have increased by around 15% since January.

Next Monday Covid restrictions will be lifted to allow indoor socialising at home and in bars/restaurants etc and students will be able to resume more of their normal term-time life, so the place will start to feel rather more like a busy, if still unique, urban environment again. I have had my two AZ vaccinations and feel more relaxed about re-entering city life. We have all been so fortunate in having the allotment spaces to go to during this awful experience, and we emerge in a better mental and physical state than many others. I hope you all have come through relatively undamaged.

Visiting other sites has not been recommended so I haven’t been to see the Crab Apple this year but I will get in touch with them and arrange to do so. I hope I will be able to send a picture before too long. If the amount of blossom on fruit trees around us is anything to go by, it should be thriving in the colder Spring weather.

At the St Clement’s site and on 14 others, we are hosting a 3 month conservation study of the bee populations starting this week. It will be fascinating to see the results and, I suspect, a little controversial for some. A number of sites have bee hives and are very proud of the fact; however, it is a proven fact that density of honey bees has a detrimental effect on other bee species, including the rarer ones. Honey for humans or more diversity in apian species? The findings will be shared widely and will be very useful in guiding our understanding of species balance and the growth and protection of habitats and plant foods.

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