Happy new year – and what a year 2020 was! It’s funny how quickly the human brain can adapt. Last year (so glad I can finally write that), everything was turned on its head. Cities went into lockdown, people lost their jobs and loved ones left us. What was once a distant idea became our day to day lives. We changed our habits and, in turn, the world changed too. Aside from the pandemic, I have also noted the speed at which I embraced my last two weeks off.
Today was bitterly cold. It was a harsh reminder of what winter has in store for us. I woke up to a ‘Good Morning’ message on my phone wishing me a nice day and promptly making me curl back up into my duvet when it showed me the temperature for the day. Ideally, I wouldn’t get out of bed for anything less than 10 degrees, but living in the UK doesn’t afford me that luxury, so up I layered up to face the 0 degree cycle into work.
So, back to work I went this morning. Unfortunately, just as the country lost its faith in the government (can you lose something that has already been missing for years?), the frame of my glasses lost the will to stay attached and snapped in half. It’s an upsetting moment for any 20-something on a meagre apprentice salary and with only two contact lenses to their name, but considering I was speeding along on a narrowboat at the time, it was far from ideal. Luckily, I was video calling my mum so I didn’t feel like a complete plonker as I held my glasses to my face and smashed into some bloke’s boat while I rummaged around for my last pair of contact lenses.
Then – hot hort tip incoming – I used the sharpie I wrote the labels with as a dibber, as its the perfect size. You can have that plant hack for free. After that, I carefully removed all of the leaves from the stem, apart from the top three or four. You want to avoid leaving too many leaves on, as that is where transpiration occurs most in a plant and results in loss of moisture, which can stop a cutting from rooting and succeeding. To save resources, I used the label I had written when collecting the cuttings to label each tray of the Pelargoniums.
Much like a lasagne, when planting up a container with a tree, the layering is very important. Coincidentally, we got the order all wrong and spent ages shovelling leca out of the planters…
This week we are without supervisor and although we had a plant to work to involving some lawn cutting and shadowing a senior gardener, all that flew out of the window when some turf arrived to finish a lawn. We had started working on it almost two weeks ago, however, we came short due to heavy rainfall damaging some of the turves. So off we popped with a van-load of turves and enough tools to sink a ship…
“The rain actually worked in our favour, as by the time we got out there, it had stopped drizzling but the soil was soft enough that the plants came out very easily. I started by removing the edging plants, which were tougher to get out, and then I worked towards the centre. The sub dots were scent marigolds and they came out of the soil really easily. Lastly, we used a border fork to remove the dots: cannas. These were tricker to remove but eventually came out after some teasing…”
“Luckily for everyone involved, this machine was newer, lighter and very simple to use. Before our colleague started it up, he said, “Just to let you know, it’s quite fast,” and was immediately dragged about 5m into the bed. Important information: this man is the tallest person I’ve ever met and with legs twice as long as mine. Needless to say, I turned it right down to a modest Gear 1 before taking it for a spin…”
“This morning we completed some individual risk assessments to ensure that health and safety measures put in place meet our specific needs. After that, we returned to the lavender beds near the river Thames to cut the lavender back to the crown. Usually, this is not advised and only to be done in our circumstances – when the alternative is losing the plant entirely….”
“Initially, I used the harness as it is meant to help take some of the weight off the machine and make it easier to manoeuvre. I did not find this to be the case, as the harness was too big for me and did not fit on my back. Instead, it pushed my head forwards when I was working and made it difficult to looking up a the plants without straining my neck. This is another in several examples of manual handling aids causing more issues. Eventually, I used the machine without the harness and – while this made it a lot tougher on my arms and shoulders – it helped my keep the lines (and my neck) straight…”