Managing the weather

It must have been blowy in the night, as our 9yo son, who is billeted in the bedroom right at the top of the house, came down to complain about the gale in the small hours. Although things have dried up and calmed down since, it still has a properly autumnal feel this morning: bright, low sunshine picking out the increasing flush of red and yellow leaves.

A frustrating week just gone. My working time was limited as Mrs Gardener was over in France with her ‘gels’, and I was left in sole charge of matters domestic. Coupled with that, the weather was completely unreliable – such that, whenever I had the time to work, the weather was poor, and vice versa. For five days on the trot. Now things are back to normal, and we are all reconvened in one country, the weather looks dire for the next few days…

I am not a fair weather gardener, and don’t mind at all getting wet in the course of work. However, there are times when gardens are simply too wet to be able to do anything useful, and when there is too great a risk of damaging soaked lawns and claggy borders with one’s boots, just by walking to and fro. I don’t like working on ladders either when it is wet, as they easily become slippy and dangerous – so even some of the ‘off the ground’ jobs, like tying-in mature climbers and fixing supports, become problematic.

My work shed needs a good tidy and a few bits of repair ahead of the winter, but that requires emptying its contents more or less completely – not a good idea when they would simply get drenched. That, at least, is a job that can be done in the depths of winter on a cold dry day. The greenhouse is already quite full, so there were not even many jobs I could do in there…

So, it was a week for sitting at my desk, leafing through the plant books and catalogues, and working on planting plans for clients: which will, of course, reward me in due course.

One job I am working on is finding some perennials to go in a very narrow strip of earth which runs round three sides of client’s conservatory, between the foot of the wall and a paved path. The conservatory is only a few years old, and sits slightly awkwardly with the main house, which is a much older cottage – the whole garden being mature, and herbaceous in the main. The border is about 8" wide and dead straight – so I really want to soften it up, horizontally – with some plants to spill a little onto the paving – and vertically – with a bit of height to cover some of the brickwork. Possibilities at the moment include – and with, as yet, no real thought about colour, but an emphasis on size and habit: Sedum ‘Ruby Glow’, Golden Marjoram, Arabis alpinaLinaria alpina, Limnanthes (an annual), and Delosperma nubigenum.

I think that this week, rather than trying to be organised and planning on the basis of the forecast, I shall adopt a ‘guerilla’ approach – poised at all times to get out and garden whenever there is a break in the (promised) rain. Given that nearly all my clients didn’t get a visit last week at all, they are less likely to complain if I turn up at short notice when the sun does shine. 

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