The most regular question that I am asked from those who read this blog is ‘How’s the garden doing?’

Like everything else in our lives at the moment we are trying to fulfil what needs to be done, whilst at the same time planning to leave it.  Will the next dean and his or her spouse be gardeners? Who knows.  They will have soft fruit in abundance, if they want it, or the bushes will have to come out to make room for whatever is their desire.

Currently, we are picking about half a pound of strawberries a day, and nearly the same of raspberries; the blackcurrants are pretty well finished, but the redcurrants are just ripening up nicely; the gooseberries are all picked, but the rhubarb is still producing, though I think that the crowns need to be split in the autumn.

As for the sweet peas and vegetables, we are picking, almost daily, a good handful of lovely scented blooms for the house, and there are salad leaves galore, but the peas and broad beans are weedy and the potatoes, as yet, un-dug.

Pots of annuals are doing surprisingly well considering they have not had the tlc of previous years and the nasturtiums have been allowed to run riot in the front.  They will seed themselves for ever and are such a joy to behold.

I’ll have to see what time allows for come September before we move, but it would be good to leave the raspberry canes pruned and ready for next year.  I’ll cut back the blackcurrants and we’ll leave plenty of strawberry plants.  They are at home, rooting in cracks in the paving and even in the gravel paths.  We let them grow in all sorts of hidden places, and they reward us with pounds of fruit each year.

There have been more young birds in the deanery garden this year than ever.  Families of blue, coal and great tits as well as juvenile robins – one just starting to get its red breast – flit in and out of the hedges and bushes.  We struggle to keep the fat ball feeder full.

And a happy surprise is the presence of sparrows.  We haven’t had house sparrows in our garden for some time, but they have appeared in the last few weeks.  They were common at our bungalow in Portrush, but not here in Belfast.  I wonder why they have returned?