I could be writing about myself for I was often told how fast I worked and how fast I got things done. However, I did not consider myself to be a fast as was suggested though I do admit to making it seem that way! Experience cultivates a quick resolution to any problem. To us some insects seem to move with breakneck speed but from their point of view, if they had one, I suppose they would see us as lethargic creatures. Many things in nature move quickly by our standards. We all know how fast ants move about especially when disturbed and how quickly flying insects move about, so fast we cannot see them much of the time. Trying to swat a fly will remind us that we move much more slowly than they do. In the plant world there are those which takes ages to grow and those which can even be seen growing before our eyes if we have the patience to sit and watch. In extreme cases plants can grow at an enormous pace, like some species of kelp whose growth rate per day is measured in many centimetres, even up to a metre! Thank goodness it isn’t a land growing species but there are nevertheless some land-based plants which can grow very quickly too though not perhaps as fast as kelp.
The plants we often don’t think about as fast growers are some species of weeds. I was talking with E a few days ago regarding the frequency we have been digging out weeds lately. I am not talking about dandelions here though they grow fast enough, no, I am referring to the smaller weeds that are often missed when trying to eradicate them. One particular weed which I have endeavoured to identify but have not been able to seems to pop up all over the place in the flowerbeds with great frequency. It has a small cluster of ground-hugging tiny leaves out of the centre of which grows a very thin stem the top of which has tiny white flowers. They grow to about ten centimetres high I guess and are very easily plucked out of the soil as the roots are small and don’t grow far down below the surface. They are more of a nuisance to pick out than a threat to the other plants. Oh well that is what gardening is all about, growing those plants you want and removing those you don’t. As I said to E, I think it would be far easier to grow weeds than have to keep digging them out.
Wanting to do things yet wanting to rest too wrestled in my thoughts but in the end I gave in to the idea of doing some more work in the garden. It just isn’t me to do nothing. Once again I received a request for my electrical services on Thursday afternoon, which I promptly did. I arose a little later than normal but only a half-hour or so and immediately after breakfast drove off to a centre which sells gardening and building materials such as ornate paving stones and slabs, fencing materials and numerous other things for outdoor projects. I had decided to purchase some lengths of natural stone which is used for capping brick walls in gardens and elsewhere. However, I wasn’t buying it for that application, I was buying it to use as edging stone for the flowerbed that runs in front of the greenhouses as I have decided to spruce it up. We are forever digging out weeds because there is insufficient ground coverage by the existing plants and some of those plants are really too small anyway. The bed really needs populating with more evergreen shrubs, especially flowering types to make it more attractive throughout the year. It gets plenty of sunshine which at the moment I feel is a little wasted on the bed if suitable plants are not there to take advantage. The existing small plants do create a splash of colour but it doesn’t last and as I said they don’t prevent the weeds from taking over. This is what it looked like about five years ago.
Since then it has become a little bit of an eyesore. The new stone will run alongside the edge of the paving slabs though not completely to the left where larger stones will be placed to create a bit of a feature. The rear of the bed which is exposed in front of the small greenhouse will also have edging stone fitted then I propose to raise the level of the soil using that soil which is stored at present in the large white bag shown in previous recent posts. Doing that will also enable me to get at the buttress I mentioned the lower half of which I propose to render with concrete. I arrived at the garden centre to see what was available and they had exactly what I needed but only just the right amount! I arranged for them to deliver it on Friday morning as it would be too heavy to carry it in my van especially as the van was full of my own stock. The small electrical job covered half the cost of the stone so I was pleased about that. Maybe I’ll get another to cover the balance!
By the time Wednesday came around I hadn’t done much work outdoors and as I hadn’t any work scheduled I was free to do something if the weather held. However I wasn’t in the mood for work at all, I was tired. I got up very early and had eaten breakfast before 7.30 that was after I had put some clothes in the machine to be washed. It was a little before 10 o’clock when I decided to make the effort and do something but first I had to hang out the washing. Usually I hang it in the cellar but E had all three lines down there full of washing already which meant I had to hang it on the line in the garden. Rain was forecast to fall but not until later in the afternoon so I donned a pair of overalls and boots and began to filter the soil in the flowerbed we are in the process of clearing up. It goes like this. I have three buckets to hand, a spade and a sieve (a circular piece of metal with a mesh in the base to filter out debris) and an old chair on which to sit whilst shaking the sieve containing a shovel full of soil to be filtered. Sitting down rather than standing makes the task easier and less troublesome for the back muscles. Plant debris goes into one bucket, large stones in another whilst the smallest stones go into the third. The stones then go into plastic bags to either be washed later or discarded. The plant debris is put into the green waste bin. It is surprising just how many stones find their way into the soil. The main object of the exercise, and believe me it is exercise, is that filtering removes unwanted bulbs such as bluebells and montbretia. Other nuisance plants such as weeds are more readily removed when simply digging the soil but the removal of stones is a bonus when filtering with a sieve. After only an hour and a quarter I’d had enough and put everything away. It had been tiring working in the heat wearing overalls but although the clouds began to roll in it remained warm. The afternoon was pleasant though getting increasingly cloudy but I was too tired to do any more work. I guess I had been overdoing it lately. There is no hurry anyway. Whilst I was working away from home on Monday E had been painting the worktop surfaces in the top room. She had also spent time in there on Tuesday and continued the work again on Wednesday. It is just as well she is able to do the work for it eases the burden upon me and leaves me the time to do other things.
I sometimes potter about in the garden without the initial intention of doing that for as I have often said, I am not a gardener, not in the true sense of the word. I like gardens and I sit looking at the plants and allowing my thoughts to drift. My on-hands involvement however is limited, so I think but in reality I find I am doing things anyway. Most usually I will be sitting down out on the patio and something catches my eye, a few dandelion flowers perhaps, something that wasn’t there a day or so back. Weeds grow so fast don’t they? Perhaps they realise that time is short and they have to produce seeds before their heads are chopped off! Unless the whole plant is removed, weeds will most certainly return within days. So I will be sitting there one minute and in the next I will be up and removing the odd weed. However it doesn’t stop there with me because whilst removing one I discover another, then another and before too long I am all over the garden digging out the weeds by hand. Sometimes I will fetch a few gardening tools and the green wastewheelie bin trying my best to tidy up what I see as a constant pest. Some weeds are more prolific than others I think. My gardening usefulness is in mowing the overgrown grass and removing weeds but I guess that is a major part of any gardener’s work. I have been known to plant the garden borders with shrubs or move plants when the season is right, as I did a few months ago with some of the gooseberry bushes. They are now thriving in their new spot a metre from where they had been next to the laurel shrubs. The laurel shrubs are better off too and have grown a few centimetres over the last month or so. They are sited where they are with the intention of forming a natural screen from the wind in that part of the garden. The screen will hide a less attractive part of the garden, that area we call our vegetable plot between the patio and a garage. I find it difficult to relax on a bench sometimes when out in the garden for I know that if I don’t keep the weeds down or cut the grass they will overtake everything else. As I write this on Tuesday afternoon on what turned out to be a day free from work, I had planned to mow the lawn but it is so windy a day I have decided to do it on Wednesday when the forecast is better. An extra day’s growth shouldn’t be a problem…………I hope.
On Saturday afternoon I was looking out of the kitchen window whilst washing some dishes and saw that the grass had grown somewhat and needed cutting. Since I got the petrol mower working, mowing the lawn has been so easy, even when the grass is wet. It had been raining a little during the morning. I got the mower out of the garage and started it up. It is the same model as shown except the base colour of the unit is yellow rather than green as in the picture. Soon I had reached the opposite side of the lawn with just over one more pass down the length of it left to mow when the machine started to cough and splutter. It had just run out of fuel. I must have only had 20 metres of grass to cut. Oh well, into the garage for the petrol can and a spot of oil and soon the machine was working again. A few seconds later the lawn was completely cut. Now at this time of year there are lots of leaves lying about and sure enough the area around the larger greenhouse was littered with them. Some leaves have actually found themselves between the greenhouse glass and the brick wall against which it stands. The gap between them is only around 10 cm or slightly more and of course during the Autumn it gets full of leaves. However I don’t generally remove them at that time of year but wait until the winter is over and do it then. If I were to clean it out now it would be full again in a matter of days and the autumnal season has not yet started in earnest. I removed the leaves I could easily reach with the broom and swept up the whole pathway in the process. I know I shall have to repeat the task again once all the leaves start to fall. For the time being everything is clean and tidy. Then I swept along the path in front of the apple trees and the borders beneath them were once again full of weeds. They seemed to be laughing at me for it was only a couple of days previous that I had pulled many of the blighters out! I didn’t remove them all at this pass for that would have taken too long but I removed all the large ones. To confound it a little the soil was also strewn with strawberry plants that had sprouted from the many tendrils that had found their way across the short distance between the rear of the border and the raised planting bed which at the moment is full of strawberry plants. E usually does the weeding at close quarters using her kneeling frame but for some reason she hasn’t bothered lately. She has been busy in the large greenhouse tending the tomato and cucumber plants and reaping the small harvest we get from them. The other greenhouse hasn’t been used this year for growing anything. Last year and in previous years since it was erected it was full of pepper plants with some tomato plants but again I don’t know why she didn’t bother growing anything in there this year. The main reason I bought the greenhouses in the first place was for her benefit more than my own as she seemed interested in growing food bearing plants. She still is but it seems a waste of time having two greenhouses if only one gets used. I don’t really like gardening and treat it as a necessity to look after it but I am certain that I will have to do more in future as E’s condition prevents her from doing too much. I suppose if and when I retire officially there will be plenty of time to laugh back at the weeds and show them who is boss!