A painted lady settles on an ox-eye daisy.

Ithink we have lost a tree: a first for me. I have been anxiously waiting for signs of life. There were some buds in early May, but we were worried. It was some way behind the others in the small batch of silver birch we bought 10 years ago to mark a birthday. I scratched its trunk and it was green beneath the bark so we soaked it with a sprinkler for a few hours a few times. The forecast was for regular rain.

By the middle of June the buds still hadn’t opened so we ran a trickle hose overnight, every three or four days. There was still no sign of leaf while its sisters shimmered. This tree is a little more exposed than the others. Our soil has a lot of sand. We are close to the coast. The sea is just a short walk away.

Last year’s summer was the sustained longest and hottest here on the east Danish coast. Our oaks dropped many hundreds of acorns – the most I’ve seen in our dozen years here at the wooden ‘summerhouse’ where my wife can relive her childhood, move through memories, be with her friends, her mother and brother. Where we grow mostly trees.

We’ve planted a handful of rugosa roses, a few naturalising tulips. I sometimes scatter nasturtiums in hidden corners. We have added native trees, a couple of apples and pears, but apart from cutting back bramble we leave gardening here well alone.

Native flowers come and go. This year an extravagant bank of ox-eye daisies is home to a large group of painted lady butterflies. There are wild lupins and a new giant digitalis. There is a bee’s nest under a sitting log. Hares lope into the garden, while black and red squirrels scamper through the branches. I fear that next year we’ll have one less 5m tree. RIP.