May 2012 Mowing, seeds and spraying the fruit trees were all in the forefront of our minds as the days warmed up to 27 plus degrees with heavy dews causing all the plant life to shoot upwards. We went to the Cetona flower fair for the first time on the 1st, a national holiday in Italy as well as much of Western Europe, to replace some of the plants we’d lost in the hard February and too see what was available.

It looked to be a good year for the fruit trees, lots of apricots, plumbs, nectarines were on the branches, the walnut tree was doing well and we were waiting to see what the gooseberries would do after we lost have the bushes to the snow. Our biggest problem was porcupines digging under roots and the banks. They upended several support posts, dug a crated in the middle of the lawn and caused a minor collapse of a terrace in search of grubs and bulbs. In the end to protect the things most valued we planted mothballs in with the plants in the hopes of keeping the creatures at bay. A friend suggested we wee around what we wanted to keep safe, but the idea just didn’t appeal to us that much. The beans and peas had to be re-sown, after something ate them, and the oaks leafed up over night.

The birds were making an enormous racket, the cuckoo never paused for breath and our chimney was a favoured perch for all types to stake their claims from. The Hoopoe had a wonderful time poking his long beak into the grass just outside our bathroom window and didn’t seemed worried that we were watching him at all. The butterflies and lizards were stalked by our tabby until it got too hot and then he was content to watch them. We were horrified to see him greet two snakes that decided to sun bathe on the pool cover and we quickly hauled him in, took a picture, and encouraged them to leave, using a garden broom.

By the 10th of the month summer had decided to arrive. Temperatures soared into the early 30’s by midday and the builders returned to work on the property next-door. The owner said he hopes to be selling the apartments in the summer but unless they get moving we can’t see they’ll be ready by Christmas. He seems to be asking a lot for them but he says there will be very few running costs as the electric is supplied by the solar panels His is the first building that is self-sufficient in power in the whole of Umbria, if not Italy. They also have floor heating using thermal differential technology and excellent insulation. We went to see a friends new apartment they’d bought nearer the lake and it was sold without a kitchen or light fittings, it seems you buy those to suit your taste and pocket.

Naturally as soon as we caught up with the outside chores the weather changed to thundery wet and wild conditions, it was warmer and drier in the UK, until late in the month. Then we were behind with the gardening again.

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