With no rain this week, a fair degree
of actual gardening work was able to be done
(as opposed to removing bricks, concrete,
and other ‘building-type’ debris;
along with the horrific amounts of rampant Hedera
that has been mentioned previously.)
My first ‘paid’ gardening job was in 1966,
at the Botanic Gardens in Belfast:
where my grandpa, a senior gardener,
taught me that there was only one thing needed
to have lush, full plants …
I have followed his advice for over 50 years,
and once again – as when living in Ireland, Scotland, and Italy –
have demonstrated the integrity of those ‘old methods’
which run so contrary to the chemical dumping-ground mentality
that is advocated in the modern age.
The soil in this particular part of the world is,
very observably, almost pure Sand which is
(as noted previously) bereft of any life:
Not a single worm was seen during the past three weeks
of digging out the first eight feet of the garden.
Unable to get ready access to well-rotted horse manure
(my grandpa’s constant admonition to me, for any garden),
the addition of cow manure during week two,
not only transformed the soil from rust-coloured tan
to deep brown (see below)
but brought – to the same section of earth,
two weeks later – the gardener’s best friend …
Rich, friable soil attracted the attention and presence
(wherever they had been hiding) of worms
to a portion of soil where there had previously been
no trace whatsoever.
Completely enclosed by a six-foot chainlink fence
hidden amongst a collection of shrubs and cedars,
the garden has (as one faces the house)
a gate to the right of the house,
and a second gate to the left …
In order to systematically
work through the entire garden,
I chose to begin right at the left-side gate
and work through the main garden,
finishing at the corresponding gate on the right.
Hoping to complete the project by April,
good progress was made this past week –
forming a Walking Path; digging, enriching,
and cleaning the beds; removing and relocating existing shrubs;
and planting the first 12 of the 78 shade plants
that we brought with us to this house …
A far cry from the mess that greeted us three weeks ago …
… which was horrible to pull, dig, coax, and untangle
from the soil and shrubs that were left to fend for themselves
in this portion of the garden.
A wonderful surprise was found – initially obscured
and choked by the strangling Ivy:
a variegated Pieris with an almost Bonsai-like
twisting of branches, which we subsequently cleared
and re-cut after the Bonsai style …
A very pleasant discovery indeed !
By 3:00 o’clock, however, the air begins to chill notably.
After checking that the fish’s pond heater is on,
it was time to stop for the day,
and sit down for a meal and several cups of tea.
At some point, we shall have to figure out
how to work the ‘BluRay’ machine
in order to see the ‘All Creatures Great and Small’
discs that we ordered. But for now, tea, a book,
and an early night are sufficient for us
to close the week …
The garden, and any further surprises, await
(all being well) … in the week to come.
10th December, ’17