The chat at last night's garden club meeting was of how dry it was. Certainly our garden is horribly dry. Things aren't so bad at the base of the rose bank, where there seems to be something approaching a spring line and moisture is still working its way through even after three months of very little rain. That's the flip side of the ground below the bank turning to quicksand and killing shrubs through waterlogging after prolonged wet spells.
But the whole of the ditch bed is dry. The display of autumn flowering Cyclamen hederifolium is pitiful, not a patch on the garden I visited last week. Thankfully the tubers are still alive, as I can tell now that the leaves are coming through, but the majority didn't flower. The ferns have collapsed into sad piles of broken fronds. The hellebores and hydrangea are wilting. The bed around the river birches is no better, or rather even worse, and the bog bed is dry as a bone.
Out came the hose again, and hang the cost of water. The Systems Administrator had removed the last section of hose back in the spring, claiming that the friction caused by that long a flow reduced pressure too far for the pressure jet to work properly. I don't know if it was really down to the length of the hose, or the fact that the old pressure jet was on its last legs. Either way, today I reattached the missing section so that the hose would comfortably reach to all parts of the lower lawn even by the roundabout route missing out the steps which are (a) broken and (b) blocked by 'Paul's Himalayan Musk', and started watering.
After that my day's gardening was determined by what else needed doing that was compatible with moving the hose every ten minutes. I cleared away a lot of prunings, and began weeding the bog bed that's not a bog, and finished pollarding the self sown willow with my new sharp pruning saw, plus the bow saw for the biggest branches. I need to work out when the right time is to do that job, so that the willow never gets too big but still produces catkins. The answer is quite possibly not October, but the willow was getting much too big and casting too much shade. There are two kinds of undone gardening tasks, those that you know you should have done but haven't managed to get round to, and those that you don't even have a plan for doing. Pollarding the willow currently belongs in the latter category.
The Systems Administrator was greatly taken with the red flowers of the Mandevilla, and we have agreed that for now it might as well live on the telephone table on an experimental and temporary basis as a house plant. It is within two feet of a glass door, which might or might not give it enough light. Remembering what the Tynings ladies said about being able to control the size of Mandevilla through regular pruning I snipped off the last six inches of the longest and most wavering shoot, taking it back to a pair of leaves. In theory that should stimulate the production of side shoots. The Mandevilla mourned its loss with the production of a bead of white latex like sap over its severed end. The flowers are truly gorgeous, a vivid, deep but not purplish shade of red, with five slightly pointed petals arranged in an open funnel shape. It occurred to me that if it lasted a fortnight on the hall table it would have done better than most bunches of flowers, but of course because I have bought it as a conservatory plant I should be quite miffed if my seven pounds didn't buy me at least a couple of years of pleasure.