Wednesday, 20 February 2013

still winter

Spring is taking her time to arrive, popping her head round the door every now and again, then deciding the party hasn't really started and retreating.  Yesterday it was a delight to be outside, while this morning it was raw.  I decided I didn't have time to wait until it felt nice, and put a coat on over my fleece.  It was originally my walking coat, bought in a sale in the Ludgate Hill Branch of Black's Leisure when I still worked in the City, and did me good service for many years.  It has been to the top of Scafell and Scafell Pike in February and proved adequate to the conditions. Once I started wearing it to work at the plant centre it gradually became so crusted with dirt that I was reluctant to wear it walking, or at least the kind of walking where you might conceivably wish to end up in a pub, or meet any other walkers and not be mistaken for an environmental activist currently living in a hole in the ground.  Eventually at work we were given the car park attendant uniform coats, but by then my red one was wrecked for anything except gardening.  It is still a quantum lighter and warmer than the uniform one, which goes to show that quality will out, since even in a sale close to fifteen years ago I paid three figures for it.

I weeded the damp bed in front of the rampant yellow bamboo, and spread out what was left of my last boot load of mushroom compost.  Five bags of mushroom compost don't go very far, and the Systems Administrator has offered to take me to collect a bulk load with the truck, once the back of the truck isn't filled with wood from the hedge waiting to be sawn into lengths that will fit in the stove.  I am not utterly sure why the SA stacked the wood on the back of the truck, and not on the concrete, but I expect there's a plan.

The bamboo is Phyllostachys aureosulcata 'Aureocaulis'.  I have just looked it up on my spreadsheet (which I must update from my garden notebook), and am telling you the name so that you can make a special note of it, and not plant one, unless you want it to cover a large area, or have put some sort of root barrier around the space you would like it to fill.  My retro-fitted galvanised lawn edging seems to be doing the trick so far, but I have found one section of rock-hard root outside it, that I failed to pick-axe up completely last year, and must dig out before it can make a break for freedom.  I pruned out some of the thinnest stems while I was working on that part of the bed, and think I should take some more out.  I'll look at the clump again over the rest of the week with a critical eye.  It's a shame to rush a task like that, and end up realising you've removed too much.  Far better to take it gradually, nibbling away until you decide you've done the right amount.  The stems do have a tendency to fall over, and I wonder whether that's due to a lack of light, although the bamboos in the Cornish gardens I've visited have often been growing in fairly shady conditions.

After lunch I went to my first Pilates lesson for three months.  First of all my teacher took some time off for Christmas, and then she was ill.  It's terribly easy to let your practice slide when you know you are not going to see your teacher for weeks and weeks, and part of the value of seeing her lies in her enforcer role to make me practice, as well as her feedback in the actual lessons.  She is a gentle and courteous person, who teaches by encouragement, rather than criticism when she justly suspects that I haven't been putting the hours in, so her enforcer role depends on my conscience being pricked.  I have heard of teachers who do bawl their pupils out, but I wouldn't go to one myself.  I'm not paying anyone to shout at me.  She was unable to solve the worrying question of why my right knee has started hurting slightly when I kneel on it.  I am hoping it will sort itself out if I am kind to it and very careful what I do.  I need to be able to kneel down.  Short of a Victorian housemaid I can't think of anyone who needs to be able to spend hours on their hands and knees more than I do.

The potholes on the route to her house were quite dreadful.  In fact, they made Tendring's roads seem good in comparison.  There were a few points in the lanes around Birch and Layer Breton where the holes in the road were so large they practically joined up, and were on the verge of ceasing to constitute a made-up road, while other holes with savage steep edges along the sides of the lanes threatened to send your near-side wheels crunching into them if you tucked close to the hedge to allow another car to pass.  Here and there water welled from the road surface, whether because a spring had spontaneously appeared under the road or because a water main had fractured I could not tell.  Which said, the potholes in the farm road leading to our house are getting very bad.  We need to do the ones on the last stretch that, although it belongs to the farm, only leads to our house and so is only used by us and our visitors, but I keep hoping that the neighbours will muck in and help with the ones in the lane outside their house, which we both use.  I suppose we should fill the holes in our stretch, and half of the ones in the part of the lane we jointly use, and see if they take the hint.

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