Thursday, 31 January 2013


The Met Office had got it right, although it was one of those days when you wished they hadn't, since it was blowing an absolute hooley.  I had to dismiss the idea I'd had of finishing pruning and tying in the climbers under the veranda, a notion which had lasted for about the length of time it took me to fetch the step ladder.  I put the step ladder down at the back of the border, and it blew over.

Strong wind is incredibly distracting, in a way that goes beyond the immediate impact of being buffeted.  I can feel myself becoming stupider and more clumsy under its influence, more likely to tread on things I didn't mean to step on, or make pruning cuts I immediately regret.  I think it is partly the noise, which if you live next to a wood is intense, like being near the sea.  It calls up some primeval fear of being drowned, or crushed, and the knowledge that you are robbed of your sense of hearing and some predator or person could creep up behind you, is unsettling at some deep level.  Added to that is the more immediate frustration as piles of prunings blow away or your tub of weeds tips over, and the nuisance of flailing branches waiting to grab you by the sleeve, or poke you in the eye.

I ended up hand weeding.  Clear of whipping branches or trees that could fall on me, already at ground level so I couldn't fall over or off anything, not using any tool more lethal than a border fork or a pair of secateurs, and not trying to make any structural decisions, it seemed a wind-proof task.  It was.  There may have been things I hadn't thought of that could have gone wrong, but they didn't.  Safe, just not very nice, and not totally effective.  The gale made my eyes water, which meant that I couldn't see what I was doing as well as I might have, especially when the tears fell on the inside of my spectacles.  Every so often I'd have to stop and wipe my glasses, which meant that after a while they were faintly smeared with mud.  I found myself having to put my face very close to the earth from time to time, to look at individual weeds.  I pulled up annual grass, and clover, and plantains, and baby goosegrass, and a gazillion tiny ivy seedlings, and little brambles, and small nettles, and scraped up quantities of moss.  The moss is a sign of sour, acid, hungry soil.

The weeds were only bad in the top part of the near rose bed where I'd laid a set of paving slabs to indicate a path through to the back of the bed for maintenance, and planted some bulbs, and not replaced the Strulch.  It goes to show how effective the Strulch is, and reminds me that I need to buy some more.  In fact, I need a lot more, which is a pity, since it will be expensive, and buying composted straw mulch is not nearly so exciting as buying plants.  It is a sign of increasing gardening maturity to make oneself spend an appreciable proportion of one's garden budget on the soil, and a lesson I was slow in learning.

By four o'clock I was getting horribly cold, and decided to call it a day.  Sunday's forecast is now for it to be mostly dry, and the wind should have blown through by then.  We might yet get a crack at the hedges.

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