This afternoon's anticipated rain barely materialised. There were a few very light showers, scarcely wet enough for it to be worth packing up my tools and coming inside. The garden's gain has been housework's loss, since I expected to have to give up gardening by lunchtime, and was resigned to spending the afternoon cleaning the kitchen. Looking at the forecast I think I really will be stuck inside tomorrow, so I'll have no excuse for not doing it then. The hall and the sitting room are looking pretty ropey as well, and the bedroom, en-suite bathroom and downstairs loo. Though I do need to make up some brood frames and update my spreadsheet of things planted in the garden.
I still haven't finished planting my little tray of alpines in the gravel. There is something seductive about weeding gravel, which produces a great temptation to do just another handful, then shuffle forwards until the handful has become another metre of clear ground. The clear bareness of freshly weeded gravel is temporary, and illusory. Unless planted up with ground covering plants, or dosed with the sort of persistent weed killers I don't use, it will soon be recolonised by a fresh crop of weeds, plus escapes from the borders like Geranium sanguineum. I now have a template in my mind, taken from the Best-in-Show winning Australian garden at Chelsea, in which arid zone vegetation clustered so closely that no ground could be seen. Obviously I can't use most of those plants, since they wouldn't be hardy in Essex, but I'm aiming for the same aesthetic.
So I have gone shooting half way up the back of the long bed, abandoning the tray behind me. Further progress will be slower, partly because the gravel starts widening out so a linear metre of forwards progress covers two or three times as much ground, and partly because I have got to an area of thyme, which has been infiltrated by an annual grass, and that takes longer to weed out. I don't know its name. It is not Poa annua, but something taller and with more slender leaves. The appearance of the grass popping up among the thyme slightly disproves the ground cover theory of weed control, since the thyme has not succeeded in suppressing it, but grass is persistent stuff. If I can get it all out before it sets seed there should be less of it next year.
I'll finish planting out the alpines on Saturday, assuming it rains tomorrow. I had to come in from the garden rather early tonight, because I'm off to the beekeepers monthly meeting, where the lecture will be on the subject of stings. I have two requests for books from the library, and am concentrating furiously so as not to go out on autopilot without them. The library is too large, and some of the books in it too out of date or downright unhygienic, for me to take all of them to meetings, but I will put a selection of the more relevant and sanitary books in a box and take them along, in case anyone wants to borrow anything.