Dogger Fisher Bight

P1030472I have just seen the weather report for the coming week.  It doesn’t bode well for gardening of any shape, form or persuasion, except for those lucky enough to have access to a greenhouse or conservatory.  On reflection I don’t think it bodes well for any outdoor activity, much more an  indoor pursuits kind of week, tidying out under the stairs or lying on the settee with leftover Christmas chocolates (yes there are still many many many of these golden brown temptresses in our house) watching Casablanca or equivalent.   In summary this is the forecast: a blue amorphous blob is approaching rapidly from the Atlantic where it slows significantly to dawdle nonchalantly across the south-west only to be ushered away by further saturated blobs in its wake that appear to be just as lazy.   This is unfortunate as, the more astute of you may well have worked out, I make my living as a gardener.  So these swirling amoeba of torrential rain and gale force winds brings with them a problem – the conundrum of when it is right to work and when it is not.

There may be doubters, but it is more than just a case of not wanting to get wet and mess my hair up.  Although few enjoy working in the rain (mainly ducks and the weird and I’m not sure how much work ducks actually do) it is unlikely to be anything much worse than uncomfortable for the worker.  Getting up a sweat whilst dressed in full waterproofs, even the poshest breathable kit, and the result is boil-in-the-bag gardener, I believe considered a delicacy in the nether regions of the Alpha Centauri star system.   Some pay thousands for an equivalent spa treatment.  It is not the gardener that is the problem, it is the garden.  There are some jobs that can be safely undertaken in bad weather without detriment to the garden, there are many that can’t.  In fact even when the rain has stopped the soil may well be unworkable for a while.  Once I explained to a client that I may not make it in as there was snow forecast “afraid of a little cold weather” he mocked “no” I replied “the ground will be covered in snow”.  Pruning is a job that can be done in the wet, as long as you don’t have to stomp all over flower beds in order to do so.  However “twinkle toes” you consider yourself to be (and I certainly do not come into this category) this will compact your soil, potentially ruining years of careful nurturing.

So this is the entrance to the moral maze, do you turn up for work, at best achieve little at worst cause damage and not be “value for money” or do you stay at home to do the paperwork* and miss an opportunity that the weather may improve, get labelled a “fair weather” and of course miss out on a days pay?  I don’t know the answer, I just want to be fair, all I can say is that I am looking forward to spring!

This magnificent acacia at Damage Hue has no interest in the weather.

* See previous references to settee activities

21 thoughts on “Dogger Fisher Bight

  1. I vote for the paperwork thing. I also worked as a gardener, part-time admittedly, but occasionally had to make the same decision: go in, stomp around, mess things up for the future, or do something constructive, or not, and wait for the weather to improve. Of course, Central Texas doesn’t experience weeks long of drudge-n-cold, just days, sometimes hours, so it’s not quite the same I guess.

    Wishing you warmth and some sunny days, soon.

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    • Thank you Tina, I imagine that Texas has very different conditions to us. Wet wet wet and mild mild mild, on the whole anyway. Could do with a little of your sunshine though! I am rather pleased you picked paperwork 🙂

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  2. Right now Torrington Tina would appreciate a little of Texas Tina’s weather. You are right, Gill, it is all too easy to wreak havoc on carefully nurtured ground when it is just so wet and soggy. In the past I have tried balancing on scaffold boards to minimise soil damage, but it does not work well for someone who is unable to perform a cartwheel or any other circus trick. I am going to sort out my seed box all ready for spring and minister to those lovely cuttings in my greenhouse. Fingers crossed those blue blobs blow by soon.

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  3. This is what we get for living in relatively mild climates. Unlike the prairies, covered in many feet of snow for many months of the year, whose inhabitants don’t even think about any kind of gardening in the winter, it is possible for us to dig, plant, weed and prune even in the coldest, wettest, months of the year. Since it’s possible for us to do it, we think that we should. Ah, that word “should”! What a bully it is.

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  4. The other thing that you have to consider is the fact that your equipment wears out more quickly when it’s used in the wet. That directly comes out of your profit margin. Also worth considering is that some people get sick from working in cold, wet conditions. If that is you and you end up being off work for two or three days while recovering, there goes even more money from lost income. Better to do the boring paperwork and forgo a day of the weekend if you really need to catch up on the re-scheduled gardening jobs.

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  5. Haha! Boil-in-the-bag gardener! Like it – know exactly what you mean. I hate waterproofs for this reason, and avoid them as much as possible! As for whether to work in the rain or not – I work freelance as a gardener also, and even if my clients are understanding, I try not to put off work just cos of rain as it might be soggy the next time too! And often enough, the weather’s not quite what the forecasters predict. Having said this, health of garden is priority, so if… ahem.. paperwork calls…

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  6. It is a dilemma especially if you garden on clay as we do here at Sissinghurst. We always use boards in the winter to work off but once it starts to rain the soil becomes just too wet even with boards which means that we have to find other activities either inside or outside to do. Unfortunately there’s no sofa in the office which is a shame. Helen

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  7. You could always go by the old saying ‘God made rainy days so gardeners could do the housework’!
    But maybe bear in mind that you’ve only just recovered from a cold and don’t want to go back there/make it worse!

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