Sunday, 4 September 2016

in the ditch bed

It rained yesterday night, starting late in the afternoon when it rained on the kittens, who were vocal in their indignation.  They haven't quite got to grips with the concept of rain yet, which shows how little there's been since we started letting them out.  Last night's efforts sounded quite dramatic in the heavier downpours, but the rain gauge this morning showed there'd only actually been five millimetres, and prodding at the surface of the flower beds I could see it hadn't made much of a difference.

I felt vindicated in my decision to keep watering the ditch bed yesterday despite the forecast.  The ditch bed is looking enormously better for a decent soaking and a quick weed and tidy.  If only I had had time to do it before the visitors came.  The hydrangeas have perked up, having been on the point of collapse, with only a few shrivelled leaves to show for their experience, and the flowers make satisfying domes of colour seen from across the lawn.  They are almost the only things that are flowering, but the overall balance of light and shade is about right, and the various sculptures provide focal points in the absence of many flowers.

I've been pruning some low hanging, small branches from some of the trees, where they obscure the view, or shade other plants too much, or poke the Systems Administrator in the face when the SA is mowing the lawn.  It can be difficult in winter when the trees are bare to visualise how its all going to look in late summer, when they are in full leaf, the weight of the foliage making the branches hang lower than you imagine they're going to.  It's a pleasantly absorbing task, requiring enough concentration that I can't cope with any background music or speech radio while I'm doing it.  How much to remove, to open out the view while leaving the tree you're pruning a nice shape?

I am nervous about cutting the lawn edges or anything else with shears while the kittens are charging about the garden.  They have the knack of appearing from nowhere, and they move so fast, rushing and pouncing.  I managed to trim odd bits of edge when I was quite sure none of them were nearby, but I can see myself having to lock them in for the odd hour when I'm ready to get really stuck into the edges.  The daffodil lawn needs tidying up as well.  The thought of one jumping on the moving blades and getting his feet caught in the cutting action is too awful.

By the end of the afternoon I'd nearly finished watering the ditch bed, but by then I'd discovered quite how dry the bog bed had become.  Some of the ferns had gone completely brown, while the leaves of the poor old Gunnera were lying flat on the ground.  I hope the ferns have merely packed up early for this year and will be back up next spring, but it's rather difficult to tell.  I poked around their bases, and couldn't find any green, on the other hand they felt fat and firm.  The self sown pussy willow that is supposed to be making a delightful pollard has got much too big.  I need to work out when in the year I am supposed to cut it back, in order to get the catkins but then limit the size of the crown, if indeed that can be done.  In the meantime I'm taking it back to the bare knuckle anyway.  I suspect it is not the right time and I'm kissing goodbye to any pussies next spring, but it was casting much too much shade as it was.

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