St Swithun’s day if thou dost rain, for forty days it will remain;
St Swithun’s day if thou be fair, for forty days ‘twill rain nae mare.
British gardeners, take heart, for today is St Swithun’s Day and this was the scene at the allotment this morning. The origins of the rhyme are unclear, but there are similar rhymes in other northern European countries and there is statistical evidence for a forty day or six week weather cycle starting around the middle of July due to the relative position of the jet stream. The grim, wet weather we’ve had so far this summer has been due to the jet stream sitting across the British Isles instead of its usual position this time of the year some way to the north. It’s also caused particularly hot weather in southern Europe, but you probably don’t want to know about that.
Whilst the forecast for next week is still a bit of a curate’s egg, there are signs that the jet stream is on the move north, so we may get a summer after all. We could certainly do with a break from the unremitting rain and dark skies. If you are gardening for the first time this year, do not despair - if you’ve managed to grow anything at all in this record breakingly wet year, give yourself a big pat on the back, and be reassured that it can only get better next year.