Sunday, 7 January 2018

winter tidy

The dump was surprisingly busy.  The last couple of times I went before Christmas the staff outnumbered the customers, and helpful employees rushed to empty my bags of garden waste, while I didn't manage to do anything much beyond stand there saying gosh, thank you, that's really kind.  There were a few Christmas trees in the garden waste bins today, but mostly the kind of debris you generate when you're having a clearout, stems of ivy and all the opportunistic plants that make themselves busy in neglected corners.  There were carfuls of household junk as well, old lampshades, small pieces of broken furniture, and other domestic detritus, and truck loads of old pallets and rotting wood.  New year, new start.  Projects underway, out with the old and in with the new.

At the garden centre they were down to their last 25 kg bag of fish, blood, and bone, which I hastily heaved into my trolley while thanking fate that they hadn't run out.  The Clacton garden centre shifts an impressive quantity of soil improvers, much more than the plant centre ever did.  I imagine there are quite a few serious growers in the bungalows of Clacton, retired taxi drivers and other East Enders with impressively robust dahlias and brilliant green lawns.  My favourite gardening gloves were in stock as well, so I was in luck.  I bought a small bag of seed compost while I was there, since the order from Special Seeds includes some that are supposed to be sown straight away, and it would be helpful to have some fresh compost ready when they arrive.

The wind was icy, and it was too cold to open the bees even for five minutes.  I should have treated them for varroa a week ago, if I had been on the ball and remembered to order the treatment before Christmas, but there's no point in doing them if it's so cold that I kill the bees as well as the varroa.  We had to destroy the village in order to save it.  I now have my eye on Tuesday, when it is forecast to be less windy.

Instead I occupied myself with a series of odd jobs in the back garden where I was out of the worst of the wind, and was moving around some of the time to keep warm.  I cut back the turf where it had crept out over the slab path across the top lawn, pruned some of the roses, and finally had a go at the lawn edges once the light began to go.  I much prefer pruning while it's sunny, when the difference in stem colour between the living and dead shoots is obvious and I can see where the buds are.  On a dull day and towards dusk everything looks greyish brown, irrespective of whether it is alive or not.

Several stems from the clump of yellow stemmed bamboo had tipped out over the lawn, and I cut them off at ground level.  The whole clump could do with thinning, but that is a job for a nice, warm, calm sort of day when I can concentrate on what I'm doing.  The patch had spread far too much, and a few years back I chopped a lot of it out with the pickaxe and surrounded what was left with a perimeter of galvanised lawn edging, buried so that a couple of inches remained above ground level.  So far the bamboo has not dived under the barrier nor climbed over it, and I would go so far as to say that the technique has worked.  Part of the point of edging the clump was to have a clear marker, beyond which I would immediately remove any wayward growths, but I was hoping the edging would keep it in check as well.

It is forecast to be cold but not frosty all week.  And it is already the end of the first week of January.  There is still a lot to do out there.

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