March 29, 2014

Shadows is here!

If it works, do it again*

 

B_twin

. . . to force BT to put a landline in, since there isn’t one in this centre-of-town, eighty-year-old house with the phone jack in the kitchen.
This is so eye-wateringly insane for me as an outsider that I can only imagine

No, no, you don’t want to imagine.  Really you don’t.

how you can manage to prevent yourself tearing strips off the wall and frothing at the mouth over it.

Hey, I’m not going damage my walls.  But the hellhounds and I do hunt down carelessly parked BT vans and write things like BT DOES NOT RULE on the windscreen in blood-red lipstick.

What did the electricians find behind the phone jack in the kitchen?? (presuming that it is the same system there in that the phone jack has a plastic plate and socket over the hole in the wall where the wires come in to)

Oh you poor creature, hampered by rational intelligence and an assumption of logic.  There has been no electrician/BT technician.  They’re making all these pronouncements by reading their computer screen and making patronising noises at me down the, er, phone.  If they sent a BT operative to Third House it would cost me over £100.  Just to say hi and let him/her in the door.  It costs extra if he/she actually looks at plate and socket . . . and I’d probably have to get a second mortgage if they took the illusory phone-jack plate off the wall and examined whatever is behind it, before declaring that it’s all a fever dream and I should try to get more sleep, sign here, the invoice will follow.

. . but eventually I managed to find the very small print in the handbook that SAYS you can’t turn the ring off the portable handset. It does not, however, tell you why.

There is a radical solution. Next time you want to turn the ringer off (like at night etc) – take the battery out of the handset….          

MESS with the thing?  Give it MORE EXCUSE to misbehave?  And besides, dropping it on the sofa and then flattening a heavy blanket*** over its face is strangely satisfying.

Gwyn_sully

Although for hysterical-making LOUDNESS, any of you have back-up batteries for your desktop computers?

Mrph. We have a whole office full of them. I have insufficient words to explain the delight of them all going off at once.

Oh . . . my.  Sympathies.

Cmarschner

… There aren’t bluebells yet, are there? My mom and I carefully planned our late April/early May England trip to try to intersect with bluebells somewhere – south or north, we’re not fussy.  ::chews nails::   But we’ll be happy with whatever we get. I bet there will be, you know, flowers. Maybe even roses by then…

There will certainly be flowers.  I’m interested that Rachel recommends Gloucestershire for bluebells the beginning of May, but they are that little bit more north than us—ours are mostly going over by then.  But for breathtakingly fabulous spring gardens down here in the south I recommend Wisley http://www.rhs.org.uk/gardens/wisley . . . camellias . . . mmmmmm . . . camellias.  And also Savill Gardens and Windsor Great Park http://www.theroyallandscape.co.uk/gardens-and-landscape/the-savill-garden which will certainly have bluebells although I’m not sure what stage of out or over they’ll be in.  Unless April is 80°F all month—which I pray most earnestly it will not be—you’re unlikely to see roses yet:  a few of the first species or species-type roses maybe.  Oh, you may have them in London!  London is crazily early—all that ambient fossil-fuel heat brings stuff on.  You can get roses flowering all winter too sometimes.

But have a spectacular trip.  It’s rather a nice country, England†, I’m very fond of it . . . and it’s pretty frelling amazing for gardens.

And in small personal garden news:  my snakeshead fritillaries are coming out.   http://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2012/sep/07/plant-offer-snakes-head-fritillary  Yaaaaaaaay.  It doesn’t get much better for a fumbling amateur gardener in the south of England:  now if only my mysteriously-alive meconopsises stay alive and produce flowers . . . oh yes and all my roses rush out dazzlingly. . . . It’s hard to remember sometimes that I’d only put stuff in the ground for the first time that very last summer in Maine before Peter happened.  Nostalgia?  Not really.  I’d rather be here.

* * *

* Also, I am tired.  For various reasons I’ve been in Wolfgang way too much today but I found myself in Mauncester before the bookshops closed.  And as if sleepwalking I discovered I was striding through a doorway surrounded by bookshelves.  I was looking for something frivolous . . . or possibly knitting.  Which is, of course, not frivolous.    THEIR KNITTING SECTION WAS TERRIBLE.  But I was already upstairs in nonfiction so I caromed from ‘hobbies’^ to ‘music’ where I picked up, not without effort, Michael Steen’s nearly a thousand pages of LIVES AND TIMES OF THE GREAT COMPOSERS and from there, all bent over from the weight, lurched to ‘religion and philosophy’ where I picked up over a thousand pages of Diarmid MacCulloch’s A HISTORY OF CHRISTIANITY . . . for balance.  I then fell downstairs, paid, and crawled out the door.  GET REAL, MCKINLEY.  Oh, okay  . . . so I stopped at the yarn shop on my way back to the car park and bought TWO KNITTING BOOKS . . . but they were on sale.^^

. . . Also, in my defense, I’ve been listening to the MacCulloch on Pooka and really need a hard copy crib.  The subtitle is ‘the first three thousand [sic] years’ and a thousand pages isn’t enough.  The stuff just streams by and you’re staring either at your knitting or some assortment of hurtling hellcritter butts and thinking, What?  Who?  When?  Where?  . . . What?

^ I should have realised that any bookshop that categorizes knitting as a hobby will have no clue.

^^ I narrowly escaped buying some yarn also on sale . . . I gave up CATALOGUES+ for Lent, I didn’t give up yarn, books or sales.  Maybe I need to draw the contract up more carefully next year.

+ Yes.  I did this last year.  I need to do it again.  It’s the negotiating that’s so frelling slippery:  a lot of us, myself included, live by catalogues and the internet, and if you’re buying dog food or black cotton socks or The Art of Song Grade Seven for High Voice so you can give your teacher her copy back, it’s fine and great and a time saver and all that.  But browsing . . . especially because I hate paying full postage on only one item . . . which of course the evil red-eyed drooling site proprietors are counting on.  The latest development, or at least I’ve only just begun seeing it, is these frelling little pop-up boxes that say, Only £1,000,000.06 more and you’ll get not only free postage but an aircraft of World War I tea towel and a stuffed penguin!  —GO AWAY. . . . no, wait, I can always use another tea towel . . . STOP THAT.

*** The heavy blanket, in fact, that is still going with me to the monks’ every Saturday night.  You know it’s supposed to get up to SEVENTY DEGREES [F] tomorrow?  I wonder if I dare . . . noooo, the chapel will still be freezing. . . .

† Barring the politicians, the road signs, the broadband availability, and all the other usual things that are wrong with first-world countries in the twenty-first century.

Gardening. Continued. Indefinitely.

 

So I’m cruising a gardening site because I have no self-control and they’re having a HALF PRICE sale* and I come to the description of something under the ‘cottage garden plants’ category.  The heading describes it as a ‘half hardy annual’.  This means it’ll die if it freezes, but it’ll be toast next winter anyway so your job is only not to plant it out too early now.  And then in the description below the heading you are informed that while it is hardy to 18° F—which is pretty seriously hardy—it would be grateful for a little winter protection which if such is provided it will go on rewarding you with a dazzling floral display for years to come.  Oh?  Yes?  Um.

It’s no wonder people think gardening is complicated and confusing.

* * *

* I didn’t tell you I ordered another eight roses, did I?  Speaking of sales.  Peter Frelling Beales http://www.classicroses.co.uk/ had a loooooong end-of-bareroot-season sale AND THEY KEPT FRELLING SENDING ME REMINDERS.  I KNOW.  I READ YOUR LAST EMAIL, THANKS.  I WISH YOU’D GO AWAY.  THE SALE WAS FOR FORTY PERCENT OFF.  FORTY PERCENT OFF ROSE BUSHES????  YOU CAN’T EXPECT ME TO RESIST—TO GO ON RESISTING—THAT LEVEL OF TEMPTATION, CAN YOU?  Well, I can’t, and it was my credit card.  Besides, I have at least a half-packet of that help-the-roots-to-grow symbiotic fungus stuff left . . .

The thing is I got all those roses I bought from the (relatively) local rose nursery planted and then discovered . . . I still had perennial-shrub sized gaps left.  ‘Perennial shrub’ is a slightly flexible concept in my garden, of course, as is ‘gap’:  it’s surprising what (and how much) you can get to grow in a too-small pot if you keep it fed and watered.  This—right now—is also the most dangerous time of year for me—I’ve probably (finally^) done a certain amount of clearing out of winter detritus:  of last year’s annuals, last year’s failures, and the pruning you should maybe have done last autumn but I didn’t not only because I’m absent-minded and disorganised but because if you have a hard winter some things, including roses, will probably die back some, so if you have to take the last six inches off a three-foot stem that still leaves two and a half feet of live plant which you can prune later on if you want to for shape and so on.  If you cut it down hard last autumn, six inches of dead wood may leave you come spring with three inches of live plant, which is risky.  But I’m not a hard pruner anyway:  I figure if a rose bush wants to be five foot—or fifteen—you’ll make it unhappy by trying to prune it to be three or six.^^

. . . Anyway.^^^  This time of year there is probably bare earth out there.  Bare.  Earth.  In MY garden.  Somewhere I could PLANT SOMETHING.  Or wedge a pyramid of pots into/onto/around.  This goes badly to my head.  Despite the fact that by the end of March I’ve frelling DONE ALL MY SPRING ORDERING.  I DON’T NEED TO DO ANY MORE.  Except that what I’ve ordered is beginning to fade into the dank dark mists of the previous winter during which you wrote out copious lists of possible plant orders as a gesture of hope and belief in the future and a quelling or at least muffling of cabin fever#. And of course I never get around to printing out the invoices## of my final orders. . . .  And then the frelling sale come-ons start appearing in your email. . . .

Coming up ten (gleeeeeeep) years ago, when I bought the cottage, I looked at the Way Too Gardenery a Garden that the previous owner### was leaving me and thought, I am not going to turn this into a Rose Garden.  I am going to evolve it a little more toward Old Fashioned Messy Cottage Garden and away from Plantsperson’s Educational Display . . . but it’s NOT going to be a rose garden with a few pansies.

Well, it isn’t.  It’s a rose garden with a few pansies, clematis, delphiniums, foxgloves, primroses, fuchsias, begonias, dahlias, hellebores, daffodils, hyacinths, a few tulips, one trillium, snowdrops, crocuses, lungwort, corydalis, epimedium, geraniums/pelargoniums/whatsit, two bleeding hearts, snapdragons, cosmos, one hydrangea, one gardenia, daylilies, irises, dianthus, dwarf Japanese maples, Japanese frelling anemones, camellias, dwarf rhododendrons, peonies . . . some other stuff, including several things I either don’t know the name of or have forgotten the name of . . . and a flowering currant, a corkscrew hazel and an apple tree.%  It’s a rose garden with friends.

. . .  It’s okay though.  You can click on the Peter Beales link, the sale is over.  I don’t recommend you sign up for their email list, however, unless you live somewhere Beales won’t ship to.

^ No, no!  You’re supposed to leave your rubbish alone over the winter!  It gives WILDLIFE SHELTER AND FOOD!  ‘Wildlife’ includes the frelling mice I yesterday animadverted, as well as slugs, snails, vine weevils, lily beetles and black spot fungal spores.  And my incredibly spoilt local bird populations don’t eat seed heads or berries or rose hips.  And the bats are hibernating.

^^ There are fashions in pruning as in most things.  Some years I’m in fashion.  Some years I’m not in fashion.  Feh.

^^^ Buckminster, our vicar, gets quite a lot of stick for being easily distracted.  Church services when our vicar is preaching+ have been known to run on quite a while over time because Buck has been chasing hares (again).  I was thinking this Sunday while everyone was giggling that it’s a good thing no one at St Margaret’s—so far as I know—reads Robin McKinley’s Days in the Life.++  Especially Buck himself.  It might give him ideas.

+ You want to get home on time, pray Buck is not preaching.

++ With footnotes.

#  Yes, you can get a cabin-fever equivalent even in the south of England, although in my case anyway the lack of daylight is almost as claustrophobi-fying as not being able to get out the door because of the snowdrifts.+  This winter, of course, the solid wall of falling water that went on for about three months accentuated that shut-in feeling.

+ Pay the guy with the bulldozer scoop on the front of his muscle pick-up who clears your driveway for you promptly.  Never mess with a guy with a bulldozer scoop on the front of his muscle pick-up, especially not in a winter with a lot of snow.

## I’d only lose them.  So why bother.

### Trained horticulturists.  Double feh.

% And I’m TRYING AGAIN with the witchhazel and the magnolia stellata, drat them anyway.  And does anyone know how to get a frelling foxtail lily to FLOWER?  The beastly thing is coming up for the third year in a row but I’ve yet to get a flower out of it.  But three of my meconopsis are alive.  YAAAAAAAY.

Return of the Frelling Indoor Jungle

 

What first struck me about Anette’s post is how surprisingly similar to mine where her garden is in the march into spring.  The small skinny trough at the foot of the stairs to the cottage front door, which I recently posted a photo of full of crocuses, is now blindingly yellow with eager, enthusiastic little Tete a tete daffs.*  I have primroses everywhere.**  I have all those Little Blue Things I can’t keep straight.  I have several varieties of lungwort, the pink, the blue, the pink and blue, and the white, with variously interestingly spotted and mottled leaves.  My crocuses and snowdrops are mostly going over and my early iris aren’t out yet at the cottage although they are at Third House.  And I certainly have the little wild violets which while I don’t want to be without them ARE A TOTAL THUG and I get a little hysterical when I find them colonising another of my pots where if radical action is not taken immediately they’ll have crushed whatever I planted in that pot into a victimised corner with its hands over its face crying for mercy.

Spring.  Yes.  Spring.

And then last night we had what Nadia’s mum today told me jovially was the coldest night this winter—except that it’s supposed to be spring—and while yes, this is the south of England, and we’re only talking a few degrees of frost, we’re talking a few degrees of frost when everything has been rioting out in relatively warm sunshine for the last fortnight or so ARRRRRRGH.  And I have a Winter Table full of potted up dahlias and begonia tubers.  ARRRRRRRRGH.

* * *

* They smell good too, although there are other daffs with more scent:  Cheerfulness, for example, or Erlicheer, which are probably my two favourites for fragrance, but they don’t keep on and on the way that trough of Tete a tete does.  Maybe the cursed mice are getting them.  I can’t keep bulbs going at all in the back garden because of the sodblasted mice:  I net a few pots every year and am getting better about remembering to take the gorblimey netting off before it strangles the bulbs trying to come up through it^ and that’s nearly it for spring bulbs.  The local field mice, frustrated of their once rich banquets of tulips, may be indulging their grievance by eating daffs instead, although they’re not supposed to—daffs are one of the bulbs you’re supposed to plant if you have a mouse problem.  Ha ha.  But my garden ought to be jammed full of daffs and it’s not.  The one bulb the local vermin seem pretty reliably not to like is hyacinths and I do keep a few pots of crocuses going by storing the pots in relatively inaccessible areas the mice can’t be bothered to hire a helicopter and a rope ladder to attack.  Mostly I resign myself to replanting crocuses.  Or netting them.  They’re tiny enough they can usually scramble through the netting even if I forget to take it off.  Ahem.

I keep the plastic half barrel by the kitchen door that I use as a waterbutt covered so nothing is tempted to drown itself.  But the pink bucket also by the kitchen door which is my kitchen-waste compost bucket, in the weather we’ve had this winter fills up with rain because since it’s been always raining I haven’t often felt like going outside to empty it into the compost bag that the city council carts away every fortnight and turns into, you know, compost.^^   As a result I have twice found a drowned mouse floating among the apple cores.  I do not mourn—if they stay out of the house I’m grudgingly more or less willing to take a ‘it’s their planet too’ attitude, but they’re still evil bulb-eating marauders—but, yo, dufflebrain, why?  You’ve got an entire garden full of fresh tasty plant life and you’re diving for apple cores and slimy vegetable peelings?  Unfortunately the hellterror discovered the second cadaver at the same moment I did NOOOOOOOOOO —providentially I nailed her before anything irretrievable happened but she now carefully examines that frelling bucket every time she goes into the back garden.

^ It can take hours to cut a lot of half-grown shoots out of heavy plastic small-gauge mouse-proof netting.  You don’t have to ask me how I know this, do you?

^^ I’m more than happy to buy it back as realio-trulio plant-stuff-in-it compost for the privilege of not having to take up the space in my handkerchief-garden for my own compost heap or heaps,+ since to do it right you have to have more than one.  But I do get broody about a wormery occasionally.  You can get quite little ones and, you know, it’s critters.

+ I have THREE compost heaps at Third House.  Which must be appropriate.

** With reference to a conversation about nomenclature on the forum I haven’t a clue about what’s correct.  I think of what I grow as primroses—both the double ones I think I’ve posted photos of^ and the little wild-type ones like in Anette’s photos which also lurk in corners of my garden.^^  The fancy ‘laced’ and all the other exotic-looking ones are, to me, primulas.

Cowslips come out a little later—I have a fabulous rust-red one just beginning to unfurl now. I have no idea where it came from, and I don’t think I knew they existed in any colour but the basic species yellow.  It’s in a pot which I clearly planted, so I must have rescued it from somewhere, recognising the leaves as primrose/cowslip and therefore worthy of rescue—is it a volunteer?  I don’t know.  Gibble.  But when I said that cowslips, theoretically endangered in the wild, are weeds in my garden, and someone told me loftily that weeds are only plants in the wrong place—yes, I know that one, thanks—I was referring to the way they grew, not that I didn’t like them.  I think they’re darling.  I’ve been known to hoick out a few of my surplus, put them and a trowel in a plastic bag, and take some hellcritters for a stroll over suitable countryside and whack them in in a bank somewhere—since they’re endangered in the wild.  This is probably illegal or something and since I know it’s desperately illegal to pluck wildflowers or to dig them up I live in fear of someone catching me at my guerrilla gardening and jumping to the wrong conclusion.  But if I didn’t, um, weed them, I’d have a garden with nothing but cowslips in it.

^ If not I will.

 

Spring

 

I love spring.*  I never used to but I think that may be because in areas where winters are gruesomely hard, like Maine, spring is kind of disgusting.  I keep remembering the smell of March in Maine and the way EVERYTHING needed cleaning, and that was even before it got covered in mud from the snowmelt.  It was great that the snow was melting (probably) but sometimes the results seemed like too much trouble.**  Some of you Midwesterners may agree/disagree.

We’ve had GENUINE SUNLIGHT the last few days.  And I’ve been getting out in the garden.

Garden.

Garden.

Little tiny overpotted garden.  With verifiable sunlight on the back wall.

 

Corydalis

Corydalis

Way beyond cute.  We must have had it at the old house–it’s common, it grows well around here–but I don’t remember it, or anyway I’m not the one looked after where it grew.***  But my predecessor at the cottage grew a lot of it.  I was kind of a scourge to begin with because I didn’t recognise it when it wasn’t in flower, it was mostly growing in inconvenient places, and the foliage dies to nothing later in the season so I’d go to dig up a blank space and discover these tiny little bulby things that had the look of something that maybe ought to be rescued.  So eventually I started plonking it in pots.  I’ve got at least three different sorts in six or eight little pots, this dark pink, the blue, and a pale pink one . . . which I only just stopped from accidentally obliterating a new little clump of–I think it must regenerate if you leave a scrap in the ground–about a fortnight ago, stuffed it in another pot . . . and, gallant creature, it’s flowering.  The bizarre thing is that I took a bunch of it up to Third House a few years ago and it disappeared.  Maybe next door’s evil terrier dug it up and ate it.

Random primrose.

Random primrose.

Primroses are a big favourite with me.  I have no idea where this one came from.  I was clearing out pots and this one had some clearly primrose leaves growing at one edge so I said, okay, fine, go for it.  Cowslips, just by the way, garden primroses’ wild cousins, which are some kind of endangered, are a weed in my garden.  Another few weeks I’ll be ankle deep in them.

Hyacinth

Hyacinth

I love the variety of colour in most hyacinth flowers.  That’s not just blue or purple, you know?  Speaking of ankle deep, in a week or two I will be knee deep in blooming hyacinths.  I keep buying them to force over the winter and then . . . you have these perfectly functional bulbs at the end of your fit of botanical self-indulgence and all they ask is a small corner outdoors and a bit of dirt . . . they’re frost-hardy, they’re tough, and apparently mice would rather eat other things.†  And they produce one fat fabulous heavenly smelly flower every spring.  Except that this is a very small garden and I’m running out of SPACE.  How do you reforce bulbs?  I know you can prepare your own by putting them in the fridge for a bit but after having their constitutions screwed up like that, how long do they need in the garden being normal before you can do it again?

Pots.  Lotsa pots.

Pots. Lotsa pots.

I have made reference to my pots-in-pots-in-pots gardening habits.  In the back left-hand corner there are at least four levels.  And that doesn’t count the fact that there are several pots in levels two and three.  The pink plastic bucket by the kitchen door is my compost bucket, although it goes to the town compost maker, not a hot fermenting corner of this garden.  As a compost bucket it has no holes in its bottom, so when it rains, it fills up.  Found a drowned mouse about a week ago–sorry, but YAAAAAAAAY.  Mice are vermin††–just in time to prevent the hellterror from engaging in close acquaintance.  She now checks that bucket very very carefully every time I open the door, and if nothing is better on offer she stands by the door and stares at it.

And the little square grey thing in the bottom right-hand corner is my maximum-minimum thermometer.  Love.  I am not a very comprehensive weather geek but I LOOOOVE having a max/min.  They are one of these things that for inexplicable reasons go out of fashion–at just about the time that your last one stops working–and it takes you YEARS to find a replacement.  I hope this one lives a long time.

Potting up

Potting up

Yesterday three boxes of tubers arrived, two of begonias and one of dahlias.  All of these things are frost-tender.  I spent a couple of hours in the sunshine yesterday afternoon potting them up–I potted all of them up the day the arrived!!!!!!  How utterly fantastic is that–and so of course we had a frost last night.  The indoor jungle lives.  It would have been so much easier if they’d just still been in three small, tidy cardboard boxes.

And it will probably freeze again tonight.  So I’d better get back to the cottage and schlepp a lot of grubby pots indoors again.  Feh.  Gardening.  It’s as mad as critters.

* * *

* Well.  When it stops raining I love spring.

** Except for the lilacs.  Lilacs are worth it.^

^ Lilacs would GROW.  Don’t talk to me about roses, AKA your very expensive annuals if you live in Maine.  Lilacs only rioted for a few weeks but by golly they RIOTED.  And they required zero care, as I should know, since those were my pre-gardening days, and I took my landscape as a given.  I had massive lilac hedges around my little house, but they seemed like just another feature like one bathroom and a long skinny kitchen.

*** Is it a rose?  No?  Go away and don’t bother me.^

^ Does it grow under roses?  No?  Go away and don’t bother me.  Although in my current garden it perforce grows under roses because there isn’t anywhere else.

† Tulip bulbs, for example.  Snarl.

†† They eat tulip bulbs.

Nine roses

 

I bought nine roses last week.*  AND I PLANTED THE LAST TWO OF THEM TODAY.  It’s only been a WEEK.**  And I’ve already got ALL OF THEM them in the ground.***  Are you impressed?  Trust me, you should be impressed.

So I thought I’d give myself a Slightly Short Blog Day to celebrate.†  And maybe I’ll do a little work.  Or go to bed early.††  Or something.

* * *

* Hey.  I need more roses.

** I can’t remember if I told you this story or not^.  I’d ordered from a rose nursery that isn’t impossibly far from here and said I would pick them up.  When they rang me that my roses were ready I suggested to Peter that he come too and we’d go on afterward to the big public garden nearby and have a wander.  So that’s what we did.  Except that by the time we got to the big public garden . . . we were too tired.^^  So we didn’t walk around it.  Ho hum.  Life in the Slow Lane.  But I did get my roses.

^ And the Footnote Labyrinth makes trying to look back and check somewhat challenging.

^^ In my case all that frelling driving was aggravated by a long conversation I had with one of the rose-nursery proprietors about, how surprising, roses.  She was full of embarrassing information I should have known.+  I have, for example, never had any luck with the symbiotic fungus stuff that you put in the hole when you plant your rose, and it colonises the roots which then develop like crazy in all directions and your rose is very, very happy.  Except it didn’t and it wasn’t.  I thought it was another fashionable scam.  Nobody told me that root fungi don’t like blood-fish-and-bone which is the traditional rose and general perennial shrub food.  You ALWAYS put BFB in the hole you’re planting a rose in.  Not when you’re using mycorrhizal fungi.  Oh.  –So I bought some more of the frelling stuff and have used it.  Except I’ve only used about half the packet and it only keeps for about a year and it’s stupidly expensive, you wouldn’t want to waste it nooooooooooo. . . . .

+ Although we did a little mutual howling about people who don’t get it that roses are, you know, living things.  I told her a story I know I’ve told you, from when we were still at the old house and opened our garden on the National Gardens Scheme.  I had someone at least once every open day saying, your roses are amazing, how do you get your roses to be so amazing?  My roses are barely struggling along.  And I would say, well, what do you feed them?  And they would look at me blankly and say, Feed them?  FOR PITY’S SAKE, GUYS.  HOW DO YOU THINK ROSES PRODUCE ALL THOSE FLOWERS?  MAGIC?  How can anyone look at a modern, repeat-flowering rose, frelling bowed down by the weight of its flowers, not least because it’s been overbred for flower production at the expense of everything else like leaves and stems and good health, and not realise it’s going to need a little more help than scratching a hole in the ground and plonking it in??  That’s like buying a racehorse and feeding it straw.  GOOD GRIEF.

*** Well.  Mostly not in the ground.  Not in the All the Plumbing in Hampshire cottage garden.  Most of them are in pots.  I suspect I have rather good drainage, between the builder’s rubble and all the plumbing in Hampshire, but most roses that aren’t major thugs, in this garden, do better in pots, possibly just because they don’t have to fight off the thugs.  But I lost a few this wet winter that I don’t think I should have lost so . . . more pots.  A few of the new intake are in pots smaller than they’ll stay in forever . . . but they’ll do for a year or two.  Or three.  Just keep feeding them.

† Also because I took Peter to the ex-library again today and we battered our way through all the other media and went and hung out in the small dark corner where the books now live.  I found a little trove of knitting books . . . and then read one of Peter’s thrillers over tea.  During which I absent-mindedly ate a Very Nasty gluten-free pistachio cookie.  I think I object to a book so absorbing that you can eat nasty food without noticing till it’s too late.  That’s the problem with thrillers:  they make you forsake all rationality and keep turning pages.

And then I went bell ringing at Crabbiton for the second week in a row.  I haven’t been ringing, I’m too tired, and the idea of facing eighty-six bells and a ringing chamber the size of a ballroom at Forza is too much for me.  Crabbiton has six bells, and a pretty laid-back and low-level band, and I found out by accident that Wild Robert has started teaching there pretty regularly again.  So I went along last week and made bob minor possible—they generally only have four inside ringers, and bob minor requires five—and so this week they were really glad to see me.  It’s a hoot being one of the big kids.  Although Felicity had to go and wreck my feeble glow of self-satisfaction by inquiring if I wouldn’t like to make up the number at Madhatterington on Mothering Sunday.  Nooooooooooooo.

So . . . after all this febrile self indulgence . . . work would be good.

†† No!  No!  Not that!

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