Thursday, 1st July, 2012

[Day 472]

I suspect that we all know that the moment we wake up we know we are not really going to look forward to the day ahead. Today was one of those days for the following reason – down in the lower area of ground below the main lawn, there is an area known as ‘Mog’s Den‘ which as an area in which I am trying to cultivate a slight ‘woodland’ feel. The slope is very severe and there are several overhanging trees so what will grow in the area is severely limited. Some of the area is planted up with periwinkle (Vinca major) which seems to be spreading over the area that I wanted it to, making it quite a pleasant and tranquil site. But the rest of the area which can be in full sun has been neglected and I was horrified to discover that some annual weeds and shrubs had gone absolutely mad – in particular, rose bay willow herb, nettles and a shrubs called Leycesteria formed an absolute jungle where the weeds had grown to an average of 5′-6′ high. I tried to reflect how this part of the garden had got into such a terrible shape but I think I know how. We had a terrible May with it being the wettest on record and I did not think about doing any gardening under these conditions. Then, of course, we had some periods of intense sunshine in June and the combination of these circumstances (plus neglect on my part) resulted in the jungle which I now perceived. However I asked our regular gardener for a couple of hours assistance and between us, we got the worst of these weeds taken up (and they themselves make a pile 5′ high!) So after a couple of hours of intensely hard work, we got things restored to the point where I can do lots of fine tuning myself. In the midst of all of this, our local neighbourhood cat Miggles made an appearance from out of the jungle and we also came across a frog which is always nice to see. I also discovered a self-set foxglove, a young lilac tree I had planted from a cutting, a little tree we cannot identify but which may be a young cherry and diverse other plants I have nurtured in the past. I have decided to cover sub-area of the whole with forest bark and, fortunately, I already have some in stock which I can deploy in the next day or so. So after a hard morning’s work, Meg and I treated ourself to a trip down to Waitrose in the car where we picked up our newspapers and then treated ourselves to a coffee and a cake. Then we came back home and enjoyed a curry.

After lunch, I know that it was time for ‘Gardening Session No. 2’. I had 2-3 yards left in the front garden gully still to clear and fortunately the sun came out and I got this done under quite pleasant conditions. Needless to say, I had my usual quota of bracken, nettles and couch grass to deal with which is always a foot-by-foot clearance by hand but this, too, got done eventually. Our gardener identified the young plants I had been saving in my clearance activities as wild hazel plants – I have taken a photo of my plants and compared them with images I have discovered on the web and there seems to be quite a good match but I am not 100% convinced. Nonetheless, I will grow my little plants on and then can always be used to make a natural border between one section of the woodland garden and the next. I think that after today’s exertions, I may treat myself to half an hour earlier in bed and a session with an electric blanket to soothe aching muscles. A few years ago, I could have thrown off some hours of heavy gardening with ease but now I have to take a bit more care of myself. I am determined to make sure that I spend about 20 minutes every day from now on (so long as I am not completely rained off) to keep things ticking over from now on.Needless to say, I am determined to make sure that I never let ‘Mog’s Den‘ get into such a run-down state ever again. Although I have some forest bark in stock, I will do the rounds of some of the local supermarkets tomorrow to see is they readily available supplies of forest bark. Just over a year ago, I did treat myself to a ton bag of forest bark from a garden supplier I had used before- and was dismayed to find subsequently that I could have bought the same quality cheaper from my local Asda and in easier to handle plastic sacks as well.

The latest Covid-19 news is that the number of new infections is now 28,000 which sounds to be horrendous. Several commentators (particularly In Germany as it happens) are arguing that the Euro competition is helping to spread the virus as ‘super-spreader’ events. When you see the results of crowds celebrating when England overcame Germany the other day, it seems no wonder that the virus is spreading so rapidly. On a slightly more reassuring note, Public Health England are indicating that two AstraZeneca jabs give 94% protection against dying with coronavirus in over-65s.