Welcome to a slice of my weekly gardening journal – an entry for the week leading up to Saturday 18 July. This week, apart from a day of annual leave, has revolved around some project work on a rather large pond which left us mud splattered and more than a little damp around the margins.
Light Dancing and Bobbing
Now, that pond work… One and a half days devoted to the pond so far this week, and the task itself; to regain the upper hand over pond weed. It’s a naturalistic fish-shaped pond, albeit with its tail fin curled up, and it sits perfectly amongst the lower slopes of a green and pleasant Cotswold hills garden. Grassy banks slope gently from the north to a margin lined with a variety of lush plants, and beyond the pond Iris foliage and reeds direct the eyes to a nearby belt of trees that form a varied texture backdrop.
If anything, the pond has naturalised a little too successfully and is approaching the stage where bigger intervention may be required – but until that day comes we have a job to do, and Tuesday last was the day to make a start, to pick up the gauntlets, to haul some weed and to begin returning the lake from a bobbled blanket weed surface to its smooth and reflective self.
I’ll spare you the detail, but suffice to say there were numerous rope tricks, repeated netting ‘runs’ and rake flinging techniques employed in an effort to pull and tease and encourage the weed to the pond edge. Once at the edge the weed could be dragged out to drain on the side of the pond – a good practice that gives any pond life a chance to crawl or wriggle back to the water, whilst also allowing the sodden weed to dry and become a whole lot lighter – reduced manual handling and all that.
‘Surprisingly heavy, damp and aromatic,’ is how I’d describe the pond work itself, but even with webbed feet developing, it is immensely rewarding. If some gardening can be seen as a restorative act, then working beside open water is equally so. I’ve known this for many years if I’m honest: the presence of damsel and dragon flies flitting about the surface; water birds flapping away from perceived threat; an occasional fish swimming near; the sound of splashes from disturbed water itself; and last but not least – flashes of reflected light dancing and bobbing across the surface. I don’t fish personally, but it’s no wonder that angling is such a long established pastime.
Picking Up Steam
Leaving the pond for now, there have been numerous other ‘plate spinning’ tasks with watering, plant feeding and lawn mowing dominating – and hasn’t the grass picked up steam?! Aside from these gardening regulars, it’s also been good to spend time in the kitchen garden attending to some of the raised beds with a touch of weeding. I’ve also picked up the baton again and started to remove dead ivy from the perimeter wall in an effort to raise the presentation standards now the end of the garden build comes into sight. (It was also a good opportunity to spot any loose stonework that might have needed attention).
Before I move onto my final thought for this week, here’s my key tasks in the garden last week:
Monday – Watering and deadheading containers; feeding in kitchen garden.
Tuesday – Mowing; pond maintenance.
Wednesday – A day annual leave, for daddy daycare duties!
Thursday – Weeding; pedestrian mowing; pond maintenance.
Friday – Watering, feeding & dead-heading; raised bed maintenance; pedestrian & ride-on mowing.
You’ve Been Framed!
Stepping back from garden maintenance chat, BBC Gardeners’ World on T.V. is a weekly treat for me, if I can get it. I say ‘if I can get it’ because family life doesn’t always free up the time to sit back and watch the show in relative peace, and iPlayer doesn’t work reliably enough to guarantee quality viewing.
I’ve heard many ‘professionals’ talk the program down over the years for one reason or another, and I myself have drifted near and far from the program for as long as I can remember. These days however, I have to say that the program offers me an opportunity to peek over the garden fence, so to speak, and to see what other gardeners are up to at any particular stage of the season.
You might imagine that some of the features may sometimes be a little lightweight for myself as a working gardener, however, there is often a relevance or something useful to take away, and anyway; none of us should be so daring to say we know it all. To this end, I want to also record how good the ‘viewers videos’ have been, and to make a particular point.
After training in horticulture it’s very easy to use techniques that have been taught and to stay in a gardening comfort zone. However, features like viewers videos remind me personally that there are many ways to grow plants and to achieve a beautiful garden – and some of them entirely more sensitive to the planet. The feature also proves how a novice gardener can approach any particular topic with imagination, and achieve brilliant results and personal satisfaction. I see people young and old exhibiting new and innovative methods that are clearly successful, breaking the established norm with refreshingly simple techniques, and often whilst doing it being thrifty and environmentally aware to boot.
My point is, that I’d like to vote for a ‘viewers video’ feature to continue in future runs of the program, maybe even spreading to include some of our self employed and employed gardeners who, through necessity, also have to innovate on a regular basis. (Dare I say it, the example set by You’ve Been Framed, offering a fixed sum payment for clips used, might be an attractive way to adopt the feature, and to support gardeners too?! – I’ll leave that one with you….)