Archive for the ‘Gardening’ category

The Inconstant Gardener

August 17, 2007

In the morning his mind was troubled, so he sent for all the magicians and wise men of Egypt. Pharaoh told them his dreams, but no one could interpret them for him (Genesis 41:8)

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I had a strange dream last night.

Before we go much further with it, I should probably point out that I do not usually attach significant import to the feverish nocturnal activities of my brain. This one, however, was a spur to action.

I was in the dining room, with the curtains closed. Evidently, I had been there for some time. I was keeping the curtains shut for a reason, namely that I didn’t want to see what was outside in the garden. But part of me knew that, eventually, I would have to look.

Very gingerly, I nudged a small chink in the curtains, and saw that the garden had become rather overgrown. And not the sort of overgrown that arises from omitting the weekly once-over with the lawnmower. There was a mythical, grotesque abundance of greenery. Now, I usually adore greenery, and have often been known to deliberately cultivate weeds if I find them aesthetically agreeable. There was nothing pleasant about these, though. They were mouldy and fetid, and had grown to the height of the house.

Plant dreams are not a usual component of my somnial repertoire (usually they’re about fish) and as I made my way to work this morning, there could be no doubt of what the dream portended. It made me realise, like a bolt out of the blue, that I had left the Monologues untended for weeks, and that they were in danger of developing into some horrid spammy armpit in my absence. This, I realised, would not do.

Fret not. Your gardener is returned. Think of this post as a necessary lap with a Flymo and a pair of secateurs, and then we’ll be back in business. There is some catching up to do.

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The Public Life of Plants

June 6, 2007

I’m having another thesis day today. You’ll have guessed that the increased frequency of these indicates that I might need to be handing it in soon. This is indeed the case. I’m looking to get it in on the first of August. But let’s put all that to one side for the minute.

You’ll have heard me waxing lyrical about gardening in the past. I know what you’re thinking: what an unrewarding pastime. You’d be forgiven for jumping to this conclusion. The rewards of gardening, like the nutrients in a good John Innes compost, are decidedly slow-release.

Luckily (for you) all of this agonisingly-protracted joy can now be condensed into a few brief seconds. Observe:

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This is the hosta outside my kitchen window. I ask you: did ere you see an aureomarginata so gay? It certainly puts all that David Attenborough time-lapse guff in the shade (the ideal position, incidently, for hostas).

Truth be told, the long-planned animation is something of an anticlimax. But there’s something about the expended effort that makes it difficult not to make a blog post out of it.

Hope Springs Eternal

March 21, 2007

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OK. We’ve made it through to the first day of Spring. I wasn’t sure I was expecting to.

With the advent of Spring, thoughts inevitably turn towards gardening. Those that know me might be aware that I really enjoy gardening. They probably don’t know that I like it so much that, sometimes, I can’t sleep at night for thinking about it.

Over the past while, I’ve been thinking of planting a vegetable or two. Up until this point, we’ve settled for the odd low-maintenance shrub, mostly of the hardy perrenial variety. This means that once they’re planted, you don’t need to do anything to them again. Ever. And if they chuck out a flower or two at some point along the way, so much the better for Mrs H.

But vegetables would be a bit of a departure. I’m not sure that Mrs H is fully on board with the growing of our own food. Perhaps she sees it as a thin end of the potato wedge, and that I’ll end up wanting to buy a pair of wellies.

Of course, there was a time when the growing of vegatables was lauded as a noble and important contribution to national security. During WWII, we were told that the ideal was ‘every garden a munition plant’ and that ‘sowing the seeds of victory would insure the fruits of peace’ (although I suspect the fruits of peace were secured at the expense of much more than the odd radish).

Somewhere along the way, the language of war and violence invaded the world of vegetable-growing and set up a state of martial law. I recently found myself in possession of one of those seed catalogues, and was amused at the grandiose, world-conquering terms used to describe the different varieties of vegetable on offer. Those opting for cabbages might choose the Brigadier, whereas you’d need to choose from Gladiators, Javelins or Daggers if parsnips are more your cup of tea.

Isn’t gardening supposed to be a peaceful pastime? Perhaps I’ll give the vegetables a miss, especially if they’re going to be interpreted by my neighbours as an act of military aggression.

Hedging One’s Bets

March 16, 2007

Now that winter’s on its way out, one must attend to the all the horticultural wreckage it has left in its icy wake. We are approaching that narrow window of opportunity during which our gardens can be coaxed back into some semblance of fecund bounty.

Scotland doesn’t get much sun in the winter. Of what little there is, approximately none will ever grace the environs of our back garden. This is a shame, not only because we are denied the pleasure of basking in the sun’s wintry rays, but also because every drop of rain that lands in the back garden will more-or-less stay there until the sun comes back out in spring. Consequently, the back garden is a squelchy quagmire during the winter months, and an oozing green film covers everything.The slugs like it, naturally. It’s a widely-renowned hang out for the slug community. There’s plenty for them to do there. And when they’re hungry from all their sliming up the place, there’s plenty of attractive plants to devour, the blighters.

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We’ve got a Leylandii hedge going all the way around our perimeter, save for a few gaps where the shed and playhouse were placed by the previous owners. We’re trying to fill the gaps with more Leylandii, but they’re not growing as fast as Neighbours From Hell would have us believe. And as for the idea that they suck up all the moisture from their surroundings, why are they sitting in puddles?

I got some tips from a chap at Homebase. If you’ve ever been to the Hermiston Gait Homebase, he’s the one who sings very loudly, and whom you might reasonably assume to be slightly barmy. He knows his stuff though. It turns out that most garden problems, much like those in real life, can be solved by covering everything in expulsions from a horse’s rear end.

‘Yes sir, yes sir’ said I, before enthusiastically purchasing three bags full.

Daisy, Daisy

February 24, 2007

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A recent trip to the local shopping centre brought to mind a post I intended to write, but never did. Perhaps this is the time.

Not long after Christmas, I accompanied Mrs H into La Senza. For those not in the know, La Senza is basically your one-stop shop for feminine nether-garments emblazoned with good-natured innuendoes. For me, it’s the sort of place where time grinds to a halt and I can experience hitherto undreamt-of levels of embarrassment.

As you wander around a shop like this, you will be surrounded by posters from which various semi-nude females will tower, Godzilla-like, over you. As a man accompanied by your better half, you must attempt to ignore these.

It was in this setting that something unusual caught my eye – nipple daisies. Thinking they were something mildly subversive to plant in one’s garden, I had a little look. It turned out that they were something for our female friends to wear under ‘sheer-fitting’ garments in order that they are not, um, apparent to the outside world on cold days.

It was then I heard a voice at my elbow: ‘can I help you, sir?’

It was a very helpful (or perhaps slightly uneasy) shop girl, who had sidled up to my side undetected. I tried to formulate a nonchalant response. This is quite difficult when you are in the middle of La Senza with a packet of nipple daisies in your hand.

‘Um. I’m OK, thanks. Just waiting for…’ and I indicated to the empty space on my left, that had until recently been occupied by Mrs H. It was then I noticed her waiting on a bench outside the shop. Evidently, some time had passed.

I hastily returned said daisies to their spot, and beat a hasty exit. I probably won’t go in there again. They’ve probably got my CCTV image on posters under the counter.