Gardening Excuses Nos 3 and 4 – Chuckling Lavender and Pea therapy.

Gardening time has been at a bit of a premium recently what with the final days of Ishbel’s northern tour (and the following few days of required detox) and ongoing family travails (dad is back in hospital). Accordingly on the sunny days between the showers (of which we have had more than our fair share for the season), and indeed during one rather refreshing warm shower, I have been out weeding away with the best of them and starting to pop in some of the annuals who have graduated from the greenhouse to the cold frame. (We are opening to the public again under the garden scheme on 27 June and other days by appointment (details on – search for Ruthven House – if you are in the vicinity do come!) and have our first “by appointment” visitors in a couple of weeks).

The combination of rain and warmth and sporadically absent lady gardener has done wonders for the opium poppies, thistles, Guillaume Adhésif and nettles all of which now abound. The poppies are being treated as welcome guests (though thinned a bit) until I can see what colour they are. The rest are being steadily waled out in prickly, stinging and jumper bobbling armfuls. All, that is, for the weeds on the right hand side of the border leading to the pond. This is thoroughly encrusted and likely to remain so for the foreseeable. I had been kneeling there, fork in hand a week or so ago when I heard a strange chuckling sound. My first thought was that it was yet another lurking toad – I have been unearthing them as I clear up for weeks now. However, as it went on with its tirade, the pitch getting higher and higher as it got into its stride, I realised that it was some sort of bird inside a lavender bush. I had a good look but whatever it was it was well hidden. Just in case there is a nest there I’ve been giving that area a swerve.

The pond life has also been doing its best to delay progress. The blanket weed that appeared in the bottom pond last year has migrated upstream (the perils of a circulating pump). Initial forays into clearing it were thwarted by clusters of tadpoles hanging on for grim death. However, as always happens a few weeks into May, the tadpoles now seem to have disappeared. (Whilst there are a million very fat newts in the pond, I don’t think they have all been guzzled. They do this every year – seeming to go off and lurk out of sight to grow legs. I predict that in a couple of weeks the grass will be aswarm with hopping froglets. ) This has let me get in with the net but progress remains slow. Each netful has to be left on the side to let any captured wrigglers extract themselves and jump back in. As well as the overfed newts there are water boatmen, snails and the most hideous crusted things a bit like swimming slime coloured locusts. I suspect these of being dragonfly or damselfly larvae so I have been fishing them out and returning them to the water.

Today’s excuse though was entirely self inflicted. I turned my ankle in a grass obscured pothole at the side of the road on my way back from walking Lyra. It was the same ankle I turned last week, when, on stepping back to admire my new azaleas, I hit a loose pebble and face planted on the lawn. This time I face planted on the road and the damage was a bit worse. I am stuck indoors with my ankle wrapped in a poultice of gently warming frozen peas. I must be improving though as whilst I was feeling a bit sick and unable to finish the proffered post walk bacon roll, I have now successfully polished off a therapeutic afternoon jam doughnut. Hopefully I will be back on the kneeling mat tomorrow. In the meantime Pingu and Lyra are both (unprecedented!) amiably keeping me company until Pub O’ Clock. Have stick, will hobble….

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