I approached yesterday's attempt to tame the overgrown wilds of my back garden with more zeal than knowledge. I attacked the flower beds with a fanatic's fervour, ripping out dried clumps of dead looking sticks, and then looking sheepishly over my shoulder to see if my wife was watching as one sticky clump came up with a batch of healthy looking red tubers attached. These I cautiously pushed back into the soil along with the various bulbs I had grubbed up.
Some plants are attached to soil by giant tap roots, bifurcated with branching capillaries designed to grip the soil as if implanted by heavy machinery, fighting to the very end for its chance to dwell and succeed in my border. Other plants seem to have the gentlest grip on life, attaching themselves to the loam by the most delicate and easily torn roots, feather like in their delicacy and seeming almost to desire to vegetal suicide in your your grasp. The former I gather are weeds, the latter, expensive designer flowers bought at great expense from the local nursery and now laying snap-stemmed and severed in the palm of my hand. Using the flat of a shovel to beat down a thicket of nettles was not perhaps the best planned of gardening ideas.
Next I turned my attention to a molehill. What incredible things mole's leavings are, the notion that a mammal that can fit comfortably in the palm of my hand has created a mound a foot high by three feet wide, and seemingly composed of a clay like material denser and heavier than say, concrete or Berni Inn Yorkshire pudding is quite fantastic. No so fantastic though as to provide any joy as both my spade and back creak alarmingly in the effort to reduce this mole hummock to a more flattened surface. Predictably, my shovelling efforts do not uncover any subterranean tunnel borers, but do reveal another healthy crop of bulbs, rhizomes and corms, the last appearing to have neither a top nor a bottom, or perhaps both, and as such may now be planted facing the sky or the centre of the Earth. Except the ones that I accidentally chopped in half and surreptitiously his in the garden waste bag.
The final tasks of the day were planting a herb barrel, which was simplicity itself, although I have doubts that the growing herb garden is out of reach of the resident rabbit population, and pruning the various roses, shrubs and bushes. Pruning, again this is a task I approached with much verve and little actual knowledge. Roses I know should be chopped back to the first, or perhaps second bud, or something like that. What of other shrub-like vegetation ? Indeed, just what is that thing in the corner looking like a collection of thick upright straws ? It yields easily enough to the secateurs revealing a somewhat woody looking core and at its new six inch height is at least rather tidier than its previous three foot sprawl.
And if it dies, it dies. I can always cover it with gravel.