Tuesday, 6 December 2016

a question of priorities

I went on weeding around the compost bins today.  I'm not sure it was the most urgent task to do in the garden, but then I'm not sure what the most urgent thing is.  Probably to plant the tulip bulbs salvaged from last year's pots and still sitting in a box in the garage.  They are suppose to be going into the square, box edged bed that originally held the Systems Administrator's hybrid tea roses, but is gradually being given over to other kinds of shrub as I remove the roses that have not done well. The shell pink 'Sight Saver' has made a valiant effort given its rather meagre and sandy quarters, and bronze pink 'Belle Epoque' battles on, but neither of the two red varieties did at all well.  'Remembrance' never made anything except miserable little bushes despite my attempts to cosset them.  I even replaced one failed specimen, but they were all evicted a couple of years ago and I gave the space to Buddleja fallowiana var. alba, which finds the sand more to its liking than the roses ever did.  'Ingrid Bergman' is slated for the same fate this winter.  I am still debating what to do with the gap, but an Indigofera could be in the frame.  Or Daphne 'Eternal Fragrance'.  Or there might be room for both.  The standard 'Iceberg' in the centre of the bed was a miserable failure and gave way to a wisteria on a scaffolding pole at the same time as 'Remembrance' went.
So the tulips are meant to be going into the gap around the edge between the box hedge and the shrubs.  I have trimmed quite a lot of the box, which was done in the summer but got whiskery again, but then I diverted into tidying the compost area.  It was partly because as the Systems Administrator has been very obliging about mending the compost bins I thought I'd better show some interest in that part of the garden, but largely because I needed access to the leaf bins, since the other urgent task is to rake up leaves.  In fact, perhaps that is more urgent than planting the tulips.

There are two reasons to rake leaves.  One is if they will cause damage left where they are.  They do, if they are lying on the lawn or on the crowns of herbaceous plants that carry next year's growth buds at soil level where they can rot if left under heaps of wet leaves for too long, rather than safely underground.  The other reason to rake up leaves is if you want them to make leaf mould.  In our garden the second reason is almost more compelling than the first, since the first good gale of wind after leaf fall carries them off into the wood and they trouble the lawn and the crowns of the asters no more.  The ditch bed, on the other hand, will take all the leaf mould I can throw at it as I try to convert its formless mixture of sand and silt into the sort of humus rich soil that woodland flowers would be truly happy in.

I have raked three or four big bags' worth of leaves up so far from the little oak tree by the daffodil lawn.  It is being very coy about dropping them, so that while they started falling a good couple of weeks ago and by now a lot have come off, there are still plenty remaining on the tree.  That's rather dull, as it means I'll end up raking the same area of the lawn again.  I have my eye on the supply of chestnut leaves in the meadow, if I can collect them without raking up too much grass in the process.  The Systems Administrator does have a leaf blower, bought in a moment of enthusiasm a few years ago, so maybe I should get that out.  I suggested that if the Systems Administrator fancied a spot of leaf collecting I'd be very happy to see the bins filled, but the SA just looked at me.  It may be that with the bramble bashing and the compost bins I've had my lot.

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