Friday, 8 February 2013

minor missions completed

It was a productive day for getting things finished.  By lunchtime I'd managed to dig out the rootball of the misplaced Chaenomeles, snipping through the last two anchoring roots with secateurs just as the 12.57 weather forecast began.  I had to get the Systems Administrator to help me lift it into the wheelbarrow and out at the other end, then enlarged the planting hole I started yesterday once I could see how big a pit I needed, and slid it in, having dug in the last of my bags of mushroom compost and sprinkled the bottom of the hole with Rootgrow.  I hope it survives the move.  I trimmed the ends off its longer branches, on the basis that since the roots had been damaged the top had better be reduced as well, and watered it in.  The forecast is for pouring rain all day on Sunday, which should help it settle down.  It has a suckering growth habit, having thrown up quite a thicket of stems from the roots since I planted it the first time, and I'm pretty optimistic that it will recover.

After lunch the SA and I finished cutting the overhanging branches around the boundary in the back garden that required the use of the Henchman platform to reach them, and even put the Henchman away afterwards, instead of doing our usual thing and leaving it lying around for several weeks.  The snowdrops look more pastoral without a large aluminium scaffold in the foreground of the picture.  There are still piles of willow branches littered about the lawn, which are no use for anything except burning, since they bind and jam the shredder if you try to chip them, but maybe the SA will deal with those over the weekend.

I suddenly noticed that the Parrotia persica was in full bloom, its branches studded with small, deep red flowers similar to those of witch-hazel.  It's not surprising they look so similar, since they are closely related, both members of the family Hamamelidaceae.  Parrotia, the Persian ironwood, is a native of Iran, and is grown in gardens for its superb autumn leaf colour and flaking bark rather than its floral display.  The latter, while fleeting, is charming when it happens and I was glad to have caught it, and made the SA come and look at it.  I'm afraid the Parrotia didn't make a very striking impression, since the SA had to ask me what we were looking at.  It is somewhat obscured by a side branch from the wild gean, which I will ask the SA to remove, but leave that until cherry pruning time in May or June.  Standard advice is to leave pruning Japanese ornamental cherries and garden fruiting ones until early summer to reduce the risk of their contracting silver leaf disease.  I don't know if the wild gean is equally susceptible, but why take the chance?

I finally got my car fixed as well, since the e-tyres fitter came and put a new tyre on my spare, which was my near-side front until it got a slow puncture.  The SA fitted the old spare to the car, so I've been driving round without one since last weekend, or rather not driving, except to go to work.  It's a relief to have a spare tyre again, and the tyre fitter was very happy that one of his last jobs on a Friday afternoon did not require him to jack the car up.  When he rang this morning to say what time he was coming he asked me to make sure that the wheel locking nut was available, if I had one.  This made no sense at all to me, so I asked the SA, who said that my Skoda did not have a wheel locking nut, because the wheels were not sufficiently valuable.  The SA was consoling about the flat, saying that it was the oldest tyre on the car and I'd probably have been told to change it at the MoT in March anyway.  I blame the potholes.

The tyre fitter did throw me for a moment when he rang this morning, since he called me by my forename.  I happen to be one of those people who is always, but always, called by a nickname rather than my baptismal given one.  Seeing an unfamiliar mobile number on the phone and hearing a strange voice address me by a name nobody uses, I thought for a moment it must be a wrong number before remembering that of course Friday was tyre fitting day.  He'd obviously got my first name from my online booking, which I did using the name on my credit card, because that makes life so much easier.  As our surname is impossible to pronounce or spell I wasn't too upset about achieving such an instant level of familiarity with a strange mechanic, but it illustrates how using the first names of people you don't know can create the opposite of the friendly impression you may be trying to create.  Amazon do it in their e-mails, and some inept cold callers, but as soon as I'm ever addressed with a name that I never use it makes it utterly clear that the person first-naming me doesn't know me at all.

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