Tricks of the Trade


It is wonderful to be getting back into the swing of things after an enforced inclement weather break.  Mine, and those around me’s, wellbeing was being threatened by this incarceration.  Things were becoming desperate.

My gold nails were commented upon more than once today.  They are a reflection of too much time on my hands.  Literally.  Which means boredom.  An old employer of mine once told me, as I was photocopying reams of construction contracts, possibly as he was on his way out to lunch at the club, that it was up to me to make this task enjoyable.  Once I explained this infuriatingly insensitive comment to the nice constable I was let off with a caution.

Of course there were a myriad of constructive things I could have been doing whilst I couldn’t get out to work.  Things that I will grumble about in the future.  Later this week, when I excuse myself from SoS as I am away for the weekend, leaving the OH at home whilst I fan and feed chocolates to my mum, there will be cries of “but you had all that time to prepare!”.  Or when the spare room isn’t ready and I am in blind panic as our guests are approaching the front door, shoving melodeons and dinosaur suits in cupboards and a life-sized cardboard cut out of David Essex under the bed, you will be saying “all that time wasted painting your nails”.  And I will say “that is the way with ennui, it drains the resolve”.   All is well now.  I am back where I belong.

Today it was showery, but the waterproof trouser trick worked a treat.  This universal rule is quite simple and a trick of the trade I will willingly share.  Keep them on and the sun will shine, take them off the heavens will open.  Try it, you will find it spookily effective.

A feral Anemone coronaria, planted some place distant and now self seeded where it chose to be, is the kind of violet-blue that makes me very happy.

Plastic Not Fantastic

Snow gone, rain stopped (temporarily at least), time to get on with it.

Today, at Nancy Nightingale’s, we worked on the Nessie beds.  Just like the rest of the garden, the soil here is poor and rubbish filled.  We plan to make this a feasting border, a mix of fruit, vegetables and edible flowers.  It will be bright, naturally, but it was also be tasty.  The lawn that we removed last year from the other side of the garden, and piled next door in Nancy’s mother’s garden, has now rotted down to a lovely loam.  There was a problem though.  Plastic.  The turf had been grown on a fine green plastic mesh.  Not good.  Lawns are not really my thing, but I have never seen this before.  A little googling and I find that this is often used to keep poor quality turf stable.  Bad.  In between trips back and forth from the loam mine, we spent frustrating minutes removing the offending intruders.  Sigh.

Then we sowed nasturtiums, calendula and dahlias.  That’s better.

If anyone else was as out of touch with turf production as I was, take a look at the discussion on Landscape Juice Network website.


apple tree and lichen

Today a poety book arrived in the post.  It was most welcome to come home to, I was tired and rainswept, then having to spar with arrogant builders who had yet again parked across our driveway.  This is the first poem in Wendell Berry’s collection The Peace of Wild Things.  I thought it was special.  It helped with my anger issues.

The Apple Tree

In the essential prose
of things, the apple tree
stands up, emphatic
among the accidents
of the afternoon, solvent,
not to be denied.
The grass has been cut
down, carefully
to leave the orange
poppies still in bloom;
the tree stands up
in the odor of the grass
drying. The forked
trunk and branches are
also a kind of necessary
prose—shingled with leaves,
pigment and song
imposed on the blunt
ligaments of fact, a foliage
of small birds among them.
The tree lifts itself up
in the garden, the
clutter of its green
leaves halving the light,
stating the unalterable
congruity and form
of its casual growth;
the crimson finches appear
and disappear, singing
among the design.

The Bright Side

Mirabilis longiflora Angel Trumpet

Hedychiums look hedychi-dead, agapanthus has flurped, phlomis is desiccated, the fuchsia is wizened but Mirabilis longiflora ‘Angel Trumpets’ has germinated.   Yes, it is a little on the tender side, but we never ever get frosts here, as for snow, don’t be ridiculous!

Six on Saturday – the Frozen One

Let’s be honest, hands up, who wanted to do a Six on Saturday today?  Not me.  But as I live in fear of a) being called a wimp and ridiculed even more than usual by Mr K and b) the wrath of Our Commandant Mr P, here I am.  Expect a lot of white.

There are many tender plants in my garden.  They are what I like to grow.  I’ve not got a proper greenhouse.  This is not grumble, after all I’ve got other things that people with lovely warm greenhouses don’t have, like gold platform boots and good strong calves.  Frosts are here rare, snow is as common as hen’s teeth.  Well Henny Penny bit me on the bum this week.  Days of heavy frosts followed by a layer of snow and freezing winds.  The whole point of pushing limits in the garden is the hint of danger, not necessarily for me, but for the plants.   It remains to be seen what has survived and what has not, and this could take months to materialise.  You pays your money you takes your choice.

The thaw has begun and today this little primula has been exposed from beneath its blanket of snow.  Looking a little squashed but not unduly bothered.  The Tracy of my garden.

Next we have tulips, pushing their noses out of the snow.  I have no doubt that soon these will be jollying up the front of my house.  That might well be the kiss of death.

Next the hellebore of previous weeks’ SoS, face harshly pushed into the frozen ground, crushed.  Like my heart.

Now Digitalis lanata looking like a plate of over-cooked cabbage.  Unlike the self-seeded monbretia around it, who haven’t turned a leaf.  Hmph!

Look closely and you will see a crimson shoot of Paeonia mlokosewitschii reaching like a hand from an icy grave.  Takes more than a little snow to stop Molly the Witch.

This dreadful weather has brought wild birds closer to our homes, looking for shelter and food.  It is a moral dilemma for us as we have many cats in the neighbourhood and we don’t want to set up a feline snack bar.  The teasels however have been attracting goldfinches, lovely to see pulling seeds from the spiky heads.  For those of you unsure, this is an artist’s impression, spookily accurate don’t you agree?!

Thanks again Mr P, hope you all have a good week!






Aeonium, a stained glass window in the gentle low light.  No driving snow, no Klondike wind, no freezing rain, just sun.  The good old days.  Or should I say good old day?

Hope you are all safe tonight.