Sunday, 11 February 2018

winter tidying

The promised not-raining and not-frosty day materialised, and I took the opportunity to start topping up the Strulch around the emerging Camassia leaves before they could get any taller.  Still only a couple of inches tall and quite stiff, the mulch would still shake down around them, although it would have been easier if it hadn't got damp.  Unfortunately I don't have anywhere under cover to store the bags.  I could try and fasten a tarpaulin over them, but it would probably flap about annoyingly and blow off in every gale.  I was relieved to get that done, since once bulb foliage becomes floppy it is the devil's own job tucking mulch between the clumps.

The leaves of the patches of Aconitum were through, close to the ground but usefully visible, so I managed to avoid standing on most of them.  It is always a crushing moment, psychologically speaking, to find you have just trampled on the new growth of an emerging plant.  I am not entirely sure what sort of Aconitum they are.  I was given some unnamed plants, which I provisionally identified as Aconitum napellus, and bought some of the useful late flowering ''Aconitum carmichaelii 'Arendsii'.  I also planted the pale blue 'Stainless Steel', which exuded sophistication in their pots in the nursery, but soon died in the ground.  The others have seeded themselves about,  habit I encourage.  They are highly poisonous, but we are not planning to eat them.  The new foliage looks quite a lot like that of the little, yellow flowered Eranthis hymale, the winter aconite, and you can see how the latter got their common name.  They are distant cousins, both being members of the buttercup family.

The soil in the bed was very wet, and the lawn horribly squelchy, and I thought that really I should not have been walking on them at all, but there are simply not enough days when it is not raining, not frosty, and the ground is not sodden, to do everything in ideal conditions.  In the real world it is often a choice between doing things in non-ideal conditions and not doing them at all.  The other classic advice to avoid compacting your soil is to put boards down and only tread on them, to spread your weight, but how can you put boards down when the bed is scattered with young foliage you don't want to squash?  At least I am fairly small so weigh less than I might.

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