Take three days

We’ve had three glorious days and I am on the verge of contemplating shorts. Somehow this thought must have telegraphed through the aether to the Bamboo clothing company who sent me a free pair of socks and their new catalogue. The shorts do look awfully comfy and would definitely add an air of “likely to break into advanced yoga at any moment” to my gardening chic. I have pointed Keith to the high performance shorts in a rather pathetic attempt to justify some shopping of my own. All of this means the weather will most likely break imminently and we shall all be spared further agonising.

On Thursday I threw myself at the garden with particular fervour, thinking I might get the last of my “sow direct” seeds in. I started off weeding the border around the patio which I’m converting very slowly into a lavender hedge with the little seedlings that appear all over the gravel garden (where I have a couple of very prolific bushes). As the lavenders are still very wee, I have been popping annual seeds in as gap fillers. Last year I put in a load of poppy seeds and saw maybe 2 come up. Weeding away this year, thinking marigolds might be a better bet, I came across a ton of tiny poppy seedlings so I have held off on the marigolds and have my fingers crossed for the chiffon grey poppies that were the height of fashion in last year’s seed catalogue. I packed up my packets of seeds and moved on. I managed maybe half of the likely spots in the borders leading to the pond by knocking off time. (It’s the barrowing down of compost and working it into the baked concrete that slows everything down, but there’s no sense in just sprinkling seeds on the top!).

Yesterday Lyra and I got off to a reasonably early start and completed a lovely circular walk round by Kersfield and then back by the little wood with the duck pond in it. The sun was high, the sky was blue and we had not travelled very far when I concluded that it was far too warm for the jumper I had on. Lyra waited patiently whilst I extricated myself and knotted it round my neck in a daredevil manner. (As the may is not yet oot this “casting of cloots” left me dangerously exposed, pace mum and all the aunties, to “a chill on the kidneys”). The hedgerow was ablaze with whin and the fields ever more yellow as the oilseed rape opens. As ever, the invisible twittle, twootle bird was singing its heart out from a secret location (or with its invisibility feathers on). I did, though, manage to spot various sparrows, tits and chaffinches and the omnipresent yellow bird which is either a yellowhammer or a rather mellow greenfinch. In the pond, empty and uninviting just a week or so ago, there was a pair of mallards shepherding no less than 15 ducklings to and fro – 13 of them in tight formation and two hanging back and then scooting to catch up. Last year’s tall grass along the edge of the game corridors has bleached white giving it an ethereal look against the sky. Looking at the new green blades coming through it strikes me that this must be rye. (It looks exactly like the stuff that runs rampant along my stream bed and is a night mare to dig out. If you leave the tiniest root it just redoubles its efforts. A menace there, but really quite beautiful with space to stretch itself to the sky. Pah, take that Derrida, context is everything. ) Passing this I became utterly distracted by trying to remember the first stanza of the Lady of Shallott and was nearly frightened out of my skin when a baby bunny from Trasnagh ran out of the wood and Lyra hauled me off to follow. Double checking with Mr Oogle just now, it seems I have been misremembering said poem for years. I could have sworn it was tall fields – but there it is – they were long

On either side the river lie 
Long fields of barley and of rye, 
That clothe the wold and meet the sky; 

And thro’ the field the road runs by 
       To many-tower’d Camelot; 
The yellow-leaved waterlily 
The green-sheathed daffodilly 
Tremble in the water chilly 
       Round about Shalott

A little green leather-bound and gold leafed volume of Tennyson has been on mum’s shelves since I was tiny. At school I seem to remember it was all modern poetry we studied, but I must have picked the Tennyson up and this one stuck (if a bit wonkily). I just love the sound of it. Thinking about it, I think all the poems I remember and enjoy are the ones that roll elegantly off the tongue. And none the waur o’ that.

I spent the rest of the day in the new border and the new quadrant bed next to the Centurian soldier. The soil’s better in the quadrant bed, and therefore there was much less compost digging but considerably more weeding. I have scattered the seed of scarlet and black poppies there and am hoping I don’t have to wait a full two years to see the results. The remaining unweeded patches are earmarked for the yellow and orange alstromeria I grew from seed (thanks Raymond) last year and some experimental dahlia (they die, or are consumed by snails, everywhere else in the garden and this is the last redoubt). The new border is like the curate’s egg. In parts there is reasonable loam, in parts concrete. I managed a few new seed beds (and rediscovered some young plants of white echinacea grown from seed last year which I had totally forgotten and which, by the look of them, have struggled a bit) before pegging out.

Overnight I reaped a whirlwind. Turns out two full days of humphing and barrowing leaves a rather distracting throbbing….. Today I had a day off. Lachlan declared a desire to tackle the Three Brethren with Lyra and I tagged along as far as mum’s. We picked up auntie granny and all four went as far as the top pond. The Corbie Lynn and the wood beyond were beautiful. All lambs, ferna and whin in full Hawaiian Tropic mode interspersed with tall trees and babbling burns. At the top pond Lachlan and Lyra went on and mum and I went back via the Watermill Cafe. It was closed, but the chef was there sorting things out for opening on Monday. They took pity on us and a couple of bikers and coffee and cake was procured. It doesn’t get much better than this….

By the way, mum’s garden looks lovely – obviously she denies this.

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