The plants that got watered yesterday look immeasurably happier. The mottled, green and silver leaves of the Chinese wild ginger Asarum splendens are once again standing up perkily, when previously they were flopping on the soil, colour muted to a dull grey. This species makes attractive ground cover in shade, though it is rather prone to being nibbled by snails. Or slugs, or something. The leaves that have not been eaten echo the shape and colour of the emerging leaves of Cyclamen hederifolium, and the two make a good combination.
Accordingly I went on watering today, shuttling back and forth across the lawn to keep moving the hose along. I have weeded half the bog bed, which is shamefully, miserably dry, the days of knee deep mud soup being but a distant memory. I hope that most of the inhabitants are merely prematurely dormant, and not actually dead.
Eventually, to save so much trotting about, I cut down the stems of the Gillenia trifoliata in the birch bed by the next section of the ditch bed that was in line for emergency water. Gillenia, or Bowman's root, is a lovely thing. Originally from Eastern north America, it carries starry white flowers on wiry stems in the latter half of summer. Although I'm sure it would prefer a moister and more woodlandy soil it copes remarkably well around the river birches in the lower lawn. The autumn foliage can colour quite attractively, and in a normal year I'd leave it to die down naturally, but in this drought it had begun to scrunch and go a dirty shade of brown, and being pragmatic about it I can't sort out every bed at once and wanted something to be getting on with in that corner of the garden while minding the hose. Gillenia seeds itself in a modest way, and by now I have a fair sized patch of it around the birches without ever having found plants in other parts of the garden, like I do with Hesperis matronalis.
Once I'd finished tidying the birch bed, which is ready for winter now save watering and a light mulch of mushroom compost, I turned my attentions to the climbing rose 'Paul's Himalayan Musk' which has been blocking the wooden steps down to the bottom lawn all summer. This annoying state of affairs came about because I was much too timid about pruning it last time. The half-hearted little passage way down the steps I cleared last winter soon closed up again as new growth shot out in all directions, and the old growth sagged further out of the supporting tree, and one reason why the beds around the bottom lawn haven't been better watered this summer is that with the steps blocked off it was such a performance getting a hose down there.
The steps were left blocked for so long partly because I can't do everything at once, and partly because I was putting off the awful day when I would have to cut great branches out of the rose, but also because the steps themselves had rotted through and it was quite handy having them obstructed by a plant so vast and so prickly that visitors would not be tempted to try and use them. But today I took my new pruning saw and cut through one large branch near ground level, that had sagged out by degrees until it protruded a couple of feet across the steps, and began to tug out the top growth supported by that branch. Thankfully it didn't account for nearly as much of the bush as I was afraid it was going to. There's plenty more wood to come out yet, and then I have to persuade the Systems Administrator to rebuild the steps. The SA has known for some time that this task was outstanding, without displaying any conspicuous signs of enthusiasm.
There is still a very long way to go along the ditch bed with the hose. When I've finished the rose then for my next act it might be time to try and dig the nettles out of the lawn below the rose bank.