I found myself crawling under spiny Majonias and hopping around delicate lillies as I lightly dug over the soil. The sun was out and my pasty arms were as well! It was a lovely day and, while I missed working with Laurence, I loved the quietness of the site and the quirky characters practicing their fencing, wandering through the shrubs and chatting away to me about planting.
I decided to take this past week off social media because the recent news was getting very heavy and I found myself ‘doom scrolling’ a little too much for my liking. It was a breath of fresh air. I spent my evenings being fully present, whether it was revising for a plant ident test or just sitting watching RuPaul’s Drag Race UK (#TeamBimini all the way). So instead of a daily journal, this one is going to be a round-up of the week, including work tasks, college practicals, my own garden work and the new volunteer job I’ve picked up.
I like this garden as it feels quite concealed and private and has a lot of variety in terms of planting types, with the bedding, topiary, lawn, trees, coppice and herbaceous borders. There is even a mini topiary maze, although the lockdown hasn’t been kind to it and it is looking more like a thicket than the manicured Buxus it should be.
After that, I worked on a bed on the second level. This was filled with herbaceous perennials like Euphorbia characias and our trusty friend the Anemone x hybrida. There was also a beautiful magnolia tree, bare of its leaves, but boasting beautiful furry buds, ready to spring open in a few months. This bed had a smattering of weeds, both annual and perennial, which were easy enough to hoe off or dig out, respectively.
This week got off to a bit of crappy start – and I don’t mean I overslept or had an altercation on the cycle in. Today, I shovelled about 5kg of faeces before 9:30am, and it was completely fine. Sure, I almost threw up and laughed at Laurence almost throwing up until I cried, but I felt accomplished. We don’t call our litter rounds litter rounds; we call them ‘cleansing’, and we certainly cleansed the dark corner of that gloomy church today!
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…