Tuesday, 12 July 2016

garden tools, tasks, and the gift of half a mouse

The new shears are so good, I should have bought them ages ago.  I cut some of the lawn edges in the back garden and the long tufty grass around the chicken house where it's impossible to get right in with the lawn mower, and they sliced through like the proverbial knife through butter.  Actually, not quite like butter because it felt slightly crunchier, more like a very sharp knife through an iceberg lettuce.  They say a bad workman blames his tools, but it is a waste of anybody's time gardening with inadequate equipment.  If you are going to use shears at all they need to be sharp, and in a garden of this size it's essential.

I tried to sharpen the old shears and the blades felt keener to the touch, but I hadn't really made much of a difference when it came to using them.  I believe there's a technique, but I don't know what it is, and don't even know whether you can sharpen the type with serrated blades.  Tightening the knob holding them together is supposed to help, but it didn't, not enough.  Shears lose their potency so gradually that at first you don't even realise they aren't working a hundred per cent any more, and I should probably just buy myself new ones every two years and give the old ones to some tool recycling charity for them to worry about.  They would cost less than three pairs of gardening gloves, and I don't expect those to last more than a few weeks.

I finally got round to planting a pot of Crinum into the gravel by the pond, that has been sitting around for years.  Literally years.  It had been in the conservatory for so long without flowering that I'd forgotten what it was, until last year it threw up a flower spike.  I'd been vaguely hoping it might be something more exciting, though I don't know what.  Crinum flowers do not last very long, certainly not long enough for one stem to justify greenhouse space for a 32 centimetre pot all winter.  I'd been worried about how easy it would be to extract from the pot without damage to either, but the fat white roots parted from the terracotta sides very easily as I tapped the rim of the inverted pot on a stout post.

That was a welcome surprise.  Agapanthus, which also makes fat white roots, is an absolute bastard to extract from clay pots.  The roots cling to the sides like anything, and I am not looking forward to re-potting two of mine, both in huge and unwieldy pots, which will need doing soon.  One has thrown up numerous lovely fat flower stems so is set to produce a good display this year, but has risen so far in its pot with all that root growth that it is getting extremely difficult to water.  The variety is 'Queen Mum' and I'm rather proud of the plant having grown it from a little eight pound specimen because I was too poor and too mean to buy one of the big thirty pound ones also on offer at the plant centre.  It would be more than thirty pounds now.  The other is an evergreen variety lifted from the gravel some years ago once I grasped that its leaves were not frost proof, whose name has got lost in the mists of time.  It has produced one measly flower stem, and I fear it is too cramped.  Agapanthus like to be pot-bound, but only up to a point.

Meanwhile in the world of kittens Our Ginger caught a mouse.  I failed to witness what followed but have it on good authority from the Systems Administrator.  Our Ginger strolled towards the front door carrying the mouse as the kittens were playing in the garden.  He proceeded to eat half of it while they looked on, awestruck, until the cautious kitten summoned the nerve to go and touch noses with him.  Whereupon Our Ginger gave the remaining half of the mouse to the cautious kitten, who ate it.  They have been washing each other as well.  It's a bromance, or else Our Ginger is playing the part of mummy cat, but I wouldn't have expected it, either way.

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