Garden Journal 29.8.20

Branch down…

The last week also featured some seriously powerful storms, and whilst I can say that the garden I care for was only lightly affected, it has scattered leaves and sticks like confetti – and it all feels a touch autumnal. There was tree damage in the form of a hanging limb in a lime tree, and a much larger branch from an oak that will need an arb’ team to remedy. All will be sorted and tidied in the week ahead, and there will be plenty of timber both for firewood and for dead wood habitat piles – along with a good amount of chippings for compost and mulching. Waste not, want not as they say!

In terms of tasks and work activity this week, here’s a brief summary:
Monday – Watering many (not all) containers; Adding additional supports for dahlias ahead of storm.
Tuesday – Added support for container and raised bed plants before storm; strimming (lots).
Wednesday – Attended to Auriculas; Mowing.
Thursday – Away day.
Friday – Met Arb’ consultant; dispersed topsoil into planting beds after loosening base of planting areas.

Emptying a few bags of topsoil…

Pressure Points
In my opening paragraph I referred to an absence of pressure when visiting a garden – you know, those carefree, aren’t gardens wonderful sort of days. However, that thought encouraged me to think of pressure when working in the garden – indeed it is a real thing!

You might be surprised to hear a gardener talking of feeling pressure, spending so much time as they do in environments that are generally considered to be refreshing, restorative and purely health building pleasure gardens. I would argue though, that the outwardly calm and content gardener might sometimes be hiding a mind full of tasks and challenges and pressures that would leave many folks confused and overwhelmed. As an example, just before I took my week’s leave I made extra effort to ensure all was looking neat and tidy, and I left site with just enough energy to steer the car and push the pedals to get home.

Within just a few days of returning to work I found tree limbs damaged, needing external help to remedy = this required some liaison and could be said to have raised a ‘pressure point’. Debris appeared almost overnight and spread all around = another point. Three suppliers started chasing for information = minor maybe, but more points. Lawns, verges and grass edges were growing away like there’s no tomorrow = a few more points.

Dusty primulas – they’ll survive…

An Auricula theatre packed to the rafters with little beauties, cleaned thoroughly before my leave was found dusted from a building project and suffering from red spider mite = another point. Hedges that have quietly stretched their stalks are suddenly waving loudly for their haircut = more points. And as if this was not enough for the simple gardener, the forecast of more storms risking damage, calling for additional staking for tall plants = yet more points. Oh yes, and while sorting that last task a need for dead heading is noticed, along with the need to harvest some produce = more points upon points.

It’s all relative, all part of the job as people say, and is all in the process of being sorted after prioritising and re-prioritising of course. However, when your job is to take pride in a well presented place, a sea of tasks lapping at your ankles does keep you mindfully moving forward. Occasionally though, a freak wave of tasks can knock you off balance.

Sunflowers at home, surviving the storm…

We know that gardens can rarely be said to be finished; their growing nature demanding regular intervention. Consider also, if you will, the effects of storms, pests, and the general growing cycle of plants. After understanding this I hope we can agree that a gardeners work can never really be complete, there’s always, always more to do the next morning. Just imagine the psychology around knowing that no matter how hard you try, your work will never be finished?!

To conclude my points on pressure, I’d say that gardeners at all levels of employment and responsibility will have pressure to one degree or another, but won’t necessarily exhibit it. Pressure to keep things looking on top form, to keep trees safe, tall plants hydrated, flowering plants dead-headed and healthy and whatever – each task carries responsibility and an element of pressure.

Gardeners will I assume, be striving daily to nurture and present a beautiful and productive garden, and will therefore be bothered by numerous daily setbacks; each adding pressure of sorts. To this end, I’d suggest that ‘mindful’ gardening is not always the restorative, lightweight activity that is often portrayed, but often a mentally challenging and physically draining way to spend your working days – it’s just as well the fruits of the gardener’s labour are sweet!

Until next time, do take it easy on yourself! And maybe connect with me on Twitter and/or Instagram if you haven’t already 🌿

One thought on “Garden Journal 29.8.20

  1. I enjoyed reading about dealing with the elements and damage limitation after a break away from the garden. I had given up with some areas of my garden, but since the recent downpours and storms, things seem to have rejuvenated somewhat. I feel I need to research and work on soil structure and mulching to retain moisture. So how about sharing some thoughts on that in your next write up? Or should I give up and order a massive bag of topsoil?!


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