Garden School:


Garden School:
Teaching this week: Rose pruning (as always!) and water management

Tuesday, 13 August 2013

Distraction gardening...

...is the best sort of gardening.

This morning,  perfect example: I arrived at the Client's garden with a target job in mind, and some donated Hellebores in a bucket.

Right! First job, locate the wheelbarrow. Not as simple as it sounds, as the garden extends to nearly three acres (at least three-quarters of an acre of that is lake, but that just means there is no short-cut across it) and the wheelbarrow tends to get left where it is last used. Eventually I found it, full of woody stuff clearly due to be taken up to the Bonfire Plateau.

Off I trundle to empty it.

On the way, I have to go along the border path, and oh! what's happened here? Due to the weather I missed my session last week, and in a fortnight the various geraniums (gerania?) and the Alchemilla mollis have finished flowering and have flopped all over the path. I heartlessly ran them over with the wheelbarrow, emptied it, and returned to clear the path. 

By the time I had cut back three-quarters of the way along the path, the wheelbarrow was full to bursting so I hastened off to Compost Corner, which is the opposite side and end of the garden from the Bonfire Plateau. Remember the lake?  Yup, no short cut.

On the way back to the border path, coming back the other way round the lake, I found the path partially blocked by the weeping willow, so that had a bit of careful crown-lifting -  you know, anything to avoid the "mum-did-my-fringe" kitchen-scissors pudding-basin effect - and having artistically arranged that to my satisfaction, I continued on, only to find the dog rose arching over the path is now catching at my hair, so that had to be trimmed and up-lifted as well: hmm, the barrow is only half full, and now I have to go back to the Bonfire Plateau, so I may as well fill it.

Right, the sallow is overhanging the seat and blocking the view, so that might as well be lifted. ("snip, snip, snip") and I may as well dead-head the dear old Zéphirine Drouhin rose, much loved by me as it is thornless and therefore a treat to dead-head, instead of savaging me, as roses normally do.

Bonfire Plateau, tip out, back down the steps, finish clearing the border path, right, take this lot to Compost Corner:  as I'm at the house end of the border path I'll go up the side of the garage and - oh crikey, look at the Vitis coignetiae (Crimson Glory Vine) it has smothered the garage again, no wonder the Client's car is sitting out on the drive today, they probably can't get the automatic door to open!

Off to my car to get my little steps, snip, snip, snip, clear the door, clear the side gutters, clear the pathway (having to peel the tendrils off the large lumps of shingle which are so not compostable) clear the side door, barrow now full, off to Compost Corner we go.

Ah, now we have to get round the house patio, and oh dear, look at the Alchemilla mollis here, looks terrible, all brown and disgusting, can't leave it like that: return from Compost Corner with empty bin, fill it up, empty it, fill it up again: Client appears, time to move my car so that she can get out. We look at the weeds growing on the drive. She looks at me. I look at her.

Correctly interpreting her look, I suggest that I spray the drive. We move the cars: I wave off the Client, re-park, locate the Pathclear, get down the sprayer, put one in the other, spray the drive, wash out the sprayer, put it away, get back to the wheelbarrow and I'm off to Compost Corner again.

This time, on the way back I glance up at the front of the house and see all the dead roses under the window - well, actually, growing over the window. That means every time my Client and husband look out of the window they are seeing dead flowers. Horrors! They have to go!

Dead-head and prune the rose.  Might as well do the one by the front door while I'm here. Oh,  and the one in the courtyard, which I am training into an angled chequerboard pattern. Cheers and hoorays, it has made two new sprouts, perfectly positioned for my training plan. Check pockets: drat, no flexi-tye, run back to my car to get some, tie in the new shoots, dead-head the rest of it. Admire it. Look around guiltily - it's not my garden to stand in and admire!! It's  my responsibility to make it nice for the Client!!

By now the wheelbarrow is nearly full again, so I'm off to the Bonfire Plateau again, chopping odd woody bits as I go.

Now, where had I got to? Oh yes, the house patio, finish off the Alchemilla, look speculatively at the Escallonia which is threatening to block the windows: check my watch, good lord, only ten minutes to go, and I haven't planted those Hellebores!

Rush round the house at top speed looking for some bare soil so that I can heel them in - I'll need rather more than ten minutes for the proper planting job,  as I have to clear a space for them and underplant them. Manage to squeeze the Hellebores in under the clematis, give them a hasty watering, and fingers crossed that they will survive until next week.

Distraction gardening: my favourite!



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