Sunday, 3 March 2013


Spring is back in the air.  It suddenly feels warmer, making time spent outdoors a pleasure instead of a penance.  We were supposed to be meeting friends for lunch in a pub near Chelmsford, a get-together deferred from weeks ago, when it was snowing, but they rang yesterday to cry off, because they all had various sorts of sore throats and upset stomachs.  To say they had colds would be to trivialise their sufferings, but to call it flu might be to over-dramatise the situation.  Anyway, something nasty enough that they weren't up to schlepping out to mid Essex for a pub lunch.

I was sorry they were ill, and sorry not to see them, but at the same time having the day unexpectedly free to get on with things outside felt like an illicit treat, especially since the recent icy blast had given way to something altogether softer and more welcoming.  Spring brings many delights, daffodils, primroses and birdsong.  It also brings weeds, and the rush is on to get as much ground finally weeded, planted up and covered in mulch as I can, before the weeds race away from me, or there's a dry spell and the soil sets like concrete, bringing weeding to a halt, or the existing plants have made so much growth that I can't work among them without damaging them.

I spent the morning weeding around the compost heaps and by the fruit cage.  It isn't an area you can see from the house, but I wanted to use the bags of home made wood chippings, partly to free up the bags so that I can use them next week to collect mushroom compost, and partly to encourage the Systems Administrator to do some more shredding.  Creating chippings that are laid down at once on a path is more rewarding than spending time filling bags with shredded wood that then sit around not being used for anything for the next twelve months.

After lunch I switched back to weeding the entrance bed, the one which has been through multiple incarnations, none wholly successful.  My current plan is to fill it largely with weed-suppressing (or at least concealing) evergreens.  It isn't a place anyone lingers to appreciate a complicated mixed planting, and the thin soil, windswept aspect and competition from the boundary hedge conspire against growing anything except the toughest and most durable species.  I've got a pine tree sitting in a pot that's destined for the entrance bed, and some subtly variegated box.  Our existing pines have done very well in similar conditions, and box is pretty tough, and certainly drought resistant.

The SA cut up the wood harvested from trimming the boundary hedge, and the reason for stacking it on the back of the truck became apparent.  The SA parked the trailer next to the truck, so that each piece of trunk out of the hedge could be picked up without stooping down, and sawed them up using an old bench saw mounted across the trailer, so that each log fell straight into the trailer and didn't have to be picked up off the ground.  When the trailer was full it could be towed straight to the log shed.  It goes to show how other people generally have a reason for doing things, so even if you can't immediately see the point of what they're doing (such as stacking all the heavy hedge trimmings on the back of the truck), it can be better to keep quiet until you discover what the reason is, rather than letting forth with cries of What on earth are you doing that for?  Of course, if you believe that your nearest and dearest really are complete numpties then you might as well challenge them immediately, but unjustified accusations of numptyhood are liable to cause offence.

I was pleased to see the truck emerging from under the wood pile, since it means we can go and collect a big load of spent mushroom compost next week.

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