Friday, 18 November 2016

back in the garden

I am not sure my account yesterday of why I was vaguely disappointed by the Picasso exhibition was very coherent, since I seemed to be simultaneously grumbling that it was hard work and complaining that it wasn't bigger.  My journey home had left me slightly jangled, and more so the knowledge that the trains had got a lot worse since then and that the Systems Administrator was still out there somewhere.  I think what I meant was that I would have liked some more paintings, big, colourful, energetic ones, in a show that was quite heavy on graphics, and the graphics to have included more of the beautiful fluidity of line Picasso displayed in the Vollard Suite.

The SA had gone for a curry with some old colleagues, and rang at ten fifteen to say that there were no trains and no information about when there would be any.  By then the internet was claiming that the lines into Liverpool Street had been reopened and services were resuming.  The SA finally got home well after midnight, the train having terminated early at Colchester leaving its sorry contingent of passengers who had hoped to travel further to pick up a replacement bus service.  The SA's car was not at Colchester but at Wivenhoe.  I don't entirely blame Greater Anglia for the fact that their wretched trains keep breaking down, since they are about a hundred years old and the company has ordered new ones now their franchise has been renewed.  I do blame them entirely for the abysmal lack of information every time anything goes wrong, which makes an already bad and stressful situation immediately worse.

But today was another day.  I finished digging up the edge of the lawn in the far bottom corner of the garden where the trees had grown out over it since the flowerbeds were designed about twenty years ago.  The SA was tired of trying to mow into that corner, bent double to duck under lowest branches of the golden deodar, and it looked scrappy.  The idea of the bottom lawn is that during the spring and summer the grass is allowed to grow long, with a mown path around the outside, and the path didn't work when you had to contort yourself like a limbo dancer to get under the trees.  It did not act as an invitation to circulate as a good garden should, and when we did walk around the lawn we ended up trampling into the edge of the long grass, which was messy.

It was terrible grass.  Patches of it peeled away in handfuls, needing almost no further digging, and when I did need to fork clumps out it came up easily, earth still as mere as builder's sand after goodness knows how many decades laid to turf.  I'd marked out what I thought was a fair curve with a length of rope a few weeks ago and glyphosated the strip around the edge that I didn't want, so it was obvious which bits to strip.  Compared to digging out the two rose beds lump by lump from the top lawn it was a quick job.  The rose beds took weekend after weekend of work, partly because I was reusing all the turf lifted to make a path to connect the top and bottom lawns.  You couldn't dignify the stuff in the far bottom corner by the term 'turf'.  Once I'd shaken off as much soil as I could the rest went in the brown recycling bin for the council green waste service to take away.

I began mulching the new strip of flowerbed with mushroom compost, but ran out.  I might go and buy another car load tomorrow before the next lot of rain.  I didn't go this afternoon, feeling that I'd done enough digging for one day, and instead went on weeding around the compost bins in the utility area.  The wire leaf bins have filled up with weeds, and given the time of year I need them to put leaves in.  'Tai-haku' has dropped all its leaves, which are still lying in neat, thick drifts on the lawn near the tree, and it would be a good idea to collect them before the next lot of wind blows through.  The wild gean by the septic tank and the little oak tree haven't really started shedding yet, but when they do that will be a lot more leaves than 'Tai-haku' produces.  It's a shame that I let goose grass grow over the leaf bins, so the next lot of leaf mould will be infested with its seeds, but there it is.  We do what we can.

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