The tide mark of Strulch is creeping slowly up the border that runs the length of the back garden. I am not sure why I am Strulching when I could be pruning, except that there seem to be a lot of things that need doing now, or preferably a fortnight ago, and Strulching seemed as good as any. I started yesterday afternoon so I went on.
I already weeded the bed once at some point over the winter, so it was fairly clear of big weeds, or at least visible ones. I chiselled out as much as I could of the dandelion roots using a long, pointy trowel, but I know they will be back. Dandelions' powers of regeneration put Dr Who to shame. Today I found a number of small bramble shoots that I missed last time, and dug out what I could of the roots, knowing that they too would be back. When the questing tips of bramble stems first touch down and send out a rosette of fat white roots they are easy to remove. Once they've sent down a tap root they are practically ineradicable if you don't want to dig up great sections of the border. I pull and chop them out as far below ground level as I can manage, but the remaining root always sends up another weedy stem.
There are little goose grass seedlings, but maybe not as many as in past years. Perhaps I am getting on top of the goose grass, or maybe it's simply that it's been cold in the past couple of weeks. Maybe once spring arrives they will be up like cress. That's a good reason to get the Strulch on now.
There are lots of ivy seedlings. There always are, all over the garden, evidence of the abundant local population of berrying ivy and birds to eat it. Hawthorn and dogwood too. I'm applying a sprinkling of fish, blood and bone as I go, and the little tree seedlings tend to show up better once the surrounding earth is dusted with grey powder. That's another reason to get on with the Strulching during a dry spell, so that it shakes off my plants instead of sticking to the foliage.
Perhaps another reason for Strulching the sloping border is that it produces a reassuring feeling of having done something. Made progress. Look at all those yards of tidy brown chopped straw, with the hellebores neatly poking out of it. I did that. It's under control. Goose grass eat your heart out. But tomorrow I shall have to tackle the remaining pruning in the near rose bed, including the buddleias that should have been done in February and are by now in full leaf. I am sure they will recover from the operation, since the only reason I've got two plants of 'Black Knight' is that I replaced the first after it blew clean out of the ground in a gale and the original plant surprised me by growing back from the roots. Anything that can recover from being bodily ripped out of the soil is unlikely to be killed by some late pruning. But it will be a sorry business, chopping off all those healthy, newly emerged leaves.
I must spray the border with Grazers as well. I don't know if it's supposed to work on mice, but something is eating altogether too much of the Viola odorata, and they want all the protection they can get.