Crikey, it’s mid-March and the clocks are a week away from changing, how did that happen? It has been, in the words of the great Garrison Keillor (sort of), a busy week in constant gardener land.
People have clearly got the sense of spring in their veins as I have been gathering new clients/projects busily for the past ten days or so. Very gratifyingly, this looks like keeping me busy for the spring at least, and it will be a help when the wee girl starts nursery-school after Easter and I have a bit more flexibility with my working hours. And, of course, the days will be longer which helps.
Last weekend was fantastic here, warm sunshine and a real feeling of growth in the air. I spent all day Saturday at the allotment, getting raised beds in good order, planting some early potatoes, and re-roofing the shed. I have decided that gardening is an occupation better pursued on all fours, nose down in the earth where you can see and feel what’s going on: maybe that’s why I don’t really regard lawn-mowing as a gardening activity? Certainly it’s best done standing up… But everything else is about getting your hands mucky and some soil under the fingernails.
Having got a good stint at the allotment done on Saturday, I spent Sunday in the garden here at home doing a ‘spring clean’ of the big beds. Long overdue it was too. I have only recently realised how timid I have long been as a gardener, and conversely, how satisfying it is to be bold and make some significant changes every now and then. So several long-standing shrubs, which had got very woody and tatty, came under the loppers, and masses of bare earth emerged from the gloom ready for some new and more lively planting.
Incidentally, is there a proper name for all the dead strawy-stuff that accumulates in herbaceous borders over winter – bits of last summer’s growth which have died-back and lie strewn about? Often it’s been semi-deliberately left for overwintering bug purposes etc, but simply makes the beds look untidy come the spring. To myself I call it ‘scrat’ – I’m not sure why, but it may be that one clears it whilst ‘scratting around’ in the beds, or that the plants which generate it are often ‘scratty’ – or maybe both. Either way, in the absence of a better word, ‘scrat’ it is.
I also entered the lists against my old foe Ground Elder, which is starting to poke through here and there. What a persistent blighter it is, but I quite enjoy our annual trench warfare, especially as I finally (after many years) seem to be winning. Unconvinced by its culinary potential, I do seek to beat it into submission with my bare hands. I’m told it tastes like parsley, but I never wanted to have beds full of parsley in my garden either…
So, after two days, I have a lawn heaped with shrub-cuttings – which will go to the recycling centre today, all being well – but apart from that a much happier-looking garden: and a much happier gardener.
PS I discovered that watching Gardeners’ World on iPlayer on Sunday night was a much more relaxing experience than watching it live. Looking back on a weekend’s gardening done is so satisfying.