Saturday, 12 August 2017

a day in the garden

The lawn, which the Systems Administrator cut on Monday, needs mowing again.  The SA is sure it was Monday because the cricket was on the radio.  I suppose Monday was five days ago.  Suddenly we are getting a taste of what gardening is normally like in the great swathes of the UK that don't have annual rainfall only fifteen centimetres above what would technically count as semi-arid. Here the lawn almost never needs cutting twice in a week in late summer, just a quick trim every ten days to take the whiskery bits off.

The pots were drying out by today, and I am grateful that no more of the zinnias have collapsed. Watering a zinnia in a pot continuously for twelve hours is no way to persuade it to live.  I am delighted with 'Queen Red Lime', whose flowers are a good colour at all stages, fading to a brownish pink that co-ordinates well with the brown tinged pink of the Ricinus flowers and seed pods.  Having sworn last year that I would not grow zinnia again I am becoming a fan.  I won't bother with Tithonia next year, though.  If I had good, deep soil in a sheltered spot I might, but in pots on a windy patio they are a travesty of what they should be.  Ah well, I have tried and got Tithonia envy out of my system.

The ivy hedge in the front garden is shaping up reasonably.  Ivy presents various issues as a hedge, which I did not foresee when I planted it and which the garden designers who still happily peddle the idea in the media do not seem to foresee either, or at least do not admit to.  One is its habit of sending shoots running out across the ground.  Yes, you can trim them off, but it is fiddly work and hard on the back compared to trimming a regular hedge, especially when they run into the border and mix themselves up with the border plants.  Another is ivy's habit, once it has got to the top of its wire support and accepted that it can go no further, of switching to the mature, fruiting form.  This is perfectly attractive per se, but difficult to trim to a neat, hedge-like finish, and impossible to cut so that it retains a decent covering of leaves each time without finding it rapidly balloons in size.  Earlier in the year I took some stretches of hedge that had grown to be level with my chest back down to knee height where they were supposed to be, and the remaining woody framework was entirely bald.  I wasn't at all sure if they would reclothe themselves, or if I had just added Replace Ivy Hedge to my list of things to do.  They have sprouted anew, and I am spared a major gardening headache.  For now.  There again, if I had used box originally I could have found myself battling with three hundred metres of box blight.

There was a steam special running today on the branch line.  The Systems Administrator thought of going to stand by the track to take photos, and give Tornado a wave as she went past, but decided against it.  From the garden we could just hear the sound of the engine from the point where the line passes closest to the house, and the wild shriek of a steam whistle.

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