July 12, 2013

A start at comment catch-up

 

DrDia

. . . we’re very excitedly looking into aquaponics. No need to water your veggies/flowers/whatever when they’re growing in fish-fertilised water. Of course, more investigation is in order.

This is OBVIOUSLY not the solution for our future roses, but I’m pretty sure lots of other things can be coaxed to grow this way – yummy things.

YOU’RE GOING TO GROW YOUR VEGETABLES IN FISH CRAP?  FRESH, JUST-OUT-OF-THE-FISH, FLOATING-IN-THE-WATER FISH CRAP?  YOU’RE GOING TO GROW STUFF YOU MIGHT BE EATING RAW IN UNTREATED FISH CRAP?

I daresay I’m missing something.**  And I’ve got no problem with crap as a fertilizer—I buy ‘composted farmers’ manure’* at the farm-supply shop at regular intervals.  And during the sadly brief period at the old house where I HAD MY OWN HORSE, I used to pick out the paddocks (I was very popular with the stableyard crew) and compost pure horse manure*** at home under a black plastic tarp . . . and a year later the stuff was the most amazingly beautiful, crumbly, black, sweet-smelling compost . . . I could nearly eat it myself.

But I’m a little twitchy about the idea of fresh crap—aside from the fact that the standard horse, chicken or mixed-farmyard crap will burn your plants if it hasn’t been composted first.  I don’t think I know anything about fish crap;  the only water-originated fertilizer I know much about is seaweed derived.  Also, this is frivolous of me, but a lot of gardening is about how it looks.†  I’m such a dweeb about this that barring pruning accidents or the inevitable wastage involved in hoicking thirty feet of Souvenir de la Frelling Malmaison back over to my side of the wall again, I won’t cut flowers to bring indoors and put in vases.  I don’t really fancy feeling warm and affectionate to a lot of fish tanks.

Diane in MN

I haven’t read M.R. James in YEARS. I think I’ll get my knitting and watch that video. 

Diane and I are having a FASCINATING email conversation about this video.  You’re all missing out.††

Scribblous

I’m only surviving the summer because I discovered you can order fans online even when the stores run out.

Sigh.  And I’m too dumb to live. †††  Thank you.  Very, very, very slightly in my defense I’d checked John Lewis, which is the only department store I ever think of, on probably the one day this decade that they were out of stock, last year, I think, during the heat wave in, wasn’t it March?, and all us heat-haters were freaking out at this omen of a diabolical summer to come—and then we didn’t have summer.‡  Anyway they had sold out of every fan that cost less than £500 and was just a fan and didn’t also do the ironing and balance your chequebook.  My clothing and my bank balance wouldn’t know what hit them.  I prefer to spare them the shock.  Also, all I wanted was a fan, not an additional member of the family.  I suspect it was one of those situations like the year when I was a kid my family moved to upstate New York.  Upstate New York communities are very good at coping with snow.  But that year we had something like four feet in September.  Even upstate New York isn’t ready for major blizzards in September, and their snow ploughs were all off getting serviced for the winter to come.  There were a lot of red faces.  And a lot of snow on the roads.  John Lewis was probably not prepared for a run on small electric fans in March.  Anyway, I flounced off line again and decided it was my Fate to Fry.

Diane in MN

I appreciate bees, but I’m afraid of them and do not find them necessarily benign. And the big fuzzy ones that I’ve encountered are generally carpenter bees, solitary and territorial and swift to come after you. I won’t even get started on yellowjackets. But biting and stinging insects are drawn to my aura or whatever, so I’m a little neurotic about them.

I never found bees benign when I lived in the States.  I used to wonder why they all had such a death wish—since mostly they do die if they sting you—but I never doubted that they did.  Carpenter bees?  Shudder.  They’re so huge you can see the expression on their faces as they come after you and it’s not friendly.  And I was another one who had ‘chocolate cake with hot fudge sauce’ written all over me in bug language.  People used to tell me patronisingly that it was because I ate too much sugar.  I know other people who ate too much sugar and they didn’t get chewed on like hot buttered corn on the cob every year.  And I still eat too much sugar but the bugs don’t like the post-menopausal hag nearly as much as they liked the juicy young one.  Getting old is not all bad.

Abigailmm

Wow, AJLR, either you have exceptionally nice bees or you are a lot more careful than I am, or both.

Ajlr is keeping bees in England, and you are keeping them in the States.  I rest my case.

Diane in MN

When I’m gardening, I dress for insect avoidance (pants tucked into wellies, lightweight long-sleeved jacket, hat and headnet, and gloves) because we have mosquitoes and deerflies and TICKS. It does get VERY warm. And it’s not 100% foolproof, because the mosquitoes can bite you through your clothes. But at least it keeps the ticks off and the biting flies out of my face.

We have our share of wasps, too, but they’re generally not a big problem unless they’ve built a nest somewhere really troublesome, like at the door. Then it’s a job for the exterminators, and I hide in the house.

Oh, my, how I remember the Full Gardening Suit, a close cousin of the Space Exploration Suit, each in its way doing its best to protect you from a hostile environment.  I’m pretty sure I’ve said here before that getting bitten by black flies in Maine would make me literally feverish and ill—and any Mainer will turn pale‡‡ and trembly at the thought of a bad black fly season.  And they’re all bad.  Give me a bunch of pissed-off Cardassians any day.

We certainly have ticks here—I screw‡‡‡ them out of the hellcritters occasionally.  After most of sixty years of having dogs underfoot ticks still creep me out:  aside from the damage they can do they’re just ultimately icky.§  And I run away from wasps and hornets here just as vigorously, not to say frantically, as I did in the States—straight indoors to the exterminator’s phone number.

It’s been much too hot again today and tomorrow is supposed to be worse.  Joy.  And just to remind me—thanks, very thoughtful, but I didn’t really need reminding—that southern England is not a green and pleasant Eden, I’ve been absent-mindedly doing the watering in shorts, you know, so I don’t keel over with heatstroke or something.  With the result that the Gigantic Red Marks that came up on the backs of my legs last year . . . have returned.  It took MONTHS for them to fade last year ARRRRRRRGH but of course I’d forgotten all about them, when I put shorts on for the first time this year. . . .  I have no idea what causes these great maculae, except that it frelling lives in the frelling garden and—menopausal hormonal crash or no—I’m allergic to it.  Some things don’t change nearly enough.

* * *

* Composted farmers of course make the very best fertilizer

** Feel free to write a GUEST POST about what a short-sighted dolt I am.

*** I mean not mixed with whatever bedding is in their stalls.

† For example, right at the moment, my Ghislaine de Feligonde is amazing . . . but she also managed to break her stays in the wind, last weekend I think, and a vast agglomeration of her has fallen across the path.  What would be the path.  Which is why I haven’t posted photos.  I’ve been saying ‘I’ll tie her up tomorrow’ all this week.  If I don’t do it soon, she’ll go over.  Arrrrgh.  Gardening is such a sucker’s game.

†† I also recommend the knitting aspect.

††† See footnote **

‡ I liked it.

‡‡ Whatever colour you started out

‡‡‡ I have this little 90°-angle two-tined fork thing.  You hook it under the tick and start screwing, as if it’s a disgusting form of bolt.

§ One of those situations where you want to say OKAY, WHAT IS GOD’S PLAN ABOUT TICKS?

Bumblebee

 

Late last night when I brought the hellhounds back through the cottage door from our final brief hurtle there was a Loud Buzzing Noise.  Noooooo, I thought.  It’s just a VERY LARGE HOUSE FLY.

Wrong.  But it wasn’t a thumb-sized wasp.  It was a thumb-sized bumblebee.

I don’t kill bees.  I did in my younger, bloodthirsty, violently-allergic-to-everything days and in America where everything that buzzes and wears yellow and black is totally out to get you and will leap out of the shrubbery and pursue you, fizzing like a short fuse that is about to blow you away.  Honey was nice and all, but I hated bees as much as I hated anything else that if it stung me I’d blow up like a gigantic red rubber balloon and which occasionally threatened to stop me breathing too.*  Just for laughs.  Laughs are harder when you can’t breathe.

But then I moved to England where bees are a lot mellower.  They still sting, but you have to really annoy them first.**  The bumbles in particular are amazingly laid back.  I’ve inadvertently put my hand on a bumblebee more than once—they’re also kind of slow—and haven’t been stung yet, although I don’t care to push this.  But I don’t find something to do on the other side of the garden if I find myself sharing space with a bumblebee:  which in the cottage garden is a good thing, since bumblebees like it and it’s a small garden.  Three bumblebees and it’s full.

Anyway.  I had a bumblebee in the house last night.  Neither of us was happy.  I chased her around with a glass and a piece of cardboard for a while but she wouldn’t settle.  Eventually she Disappeared into the Shadows of the Sitting Room and I let her.

I assumed she wouldn’t sting me as I slept and she didn’t.†  I looked around a little cautiously this morning but I didn’t see her—maybe she was stunned by the frelling heat too.  And then as I was ringing Peter to discuss the day ahead. . . .

I love foxgloves, but the basic mid-pink ones take over if you let them.  Pink of course is good, but the really startling dark raspberry pink ones are rare—unless you go to a garden centre and buy them which in foxglove country seems to me kind of cheating.  Or anyway part of the fun to me is seeing where the silly things manage to come up—foxgloves seed like anything around here, and this includes in cracks in the pavement and among the houseleeks and in three-inch pots containing mini geraniums.  But I like the whites, or the very very very pale pink, with the dark maroon spots in their throats.  Back at the old house I selected for these by pulling up all the mid-pinks—white will make a decent go of it if you give them some edge.  By the time we left we had lots of splendid white—and some mid-pink since they don’t breed true.  Which is fine.  I wouldn’t want to obliterate  . . . pink.

I can’t perform this harsh selection process at the cottage;  the garden’s too small and there are still only two or three whites a year.  I like a proper foxglove forest and we’re getting there, at the cottage, but the pinks predominate.  So I compromise and pull out most of the mid-pinks when the last flowers are coming out, and before they have a chance to set seed.  And then I put the foxglove tip with its final few inches of flowerets in a vase indoors—waste not want not.

So I had just rung Peter this morning when . . . my overnight visitor†† emerged from seclusion and crawled into one of the foxglove flowerets.†††  I put the phone down hastily, snatched up the vase and took it outdoors.  With its passenger.

Yaay. ‡

* * *

* I carried an epipen for years.  I’ve told you at least some of this before.  My last damaging encounter with Things That Sting was in that delirious week between Peter coming to visit me in Maine and his ringing me up a week later which is when we decided to get married.  It’s possible that being Off the Planet had enough physical effect that I didn’t react as badly as I might have—or as I expected to.  I hadn’t quite stepped on the nest, chiefly because they were already coming after me, and I turned and fled—running into the fellow I was with, but only I got stung.  I swelled up some and wheezed a little—and started carrying an epipen again.

** Although I’ll still never make a beekeeper.  Beekeepers do get stung even if maybe not as often as the population at large believes^ and I don’t want to press this post-menopause allergy-truce thing too far.

^ Right, Ajlr and abigailmm?

† She was probably hiding in the kindling basket with the dog food [sic] and whimpering to herself:  if I get out of this alive I’ll never go out after dark again!  —I hope she likes cedar oil.  I won’t use proprietary moth killer stuff so the sitting room, the attic and the cupboard in my bedroom kind of reek with cedar oil.   The attic contains all my wool clothing, the cupboard in my bedroom contains (most of) my YARN STASH.  I don’t know why the sitting room is so popular with clothes moths.  Maybe they like dog food.

†† Luke and Andraste and the others are at Third House.

††† I like to think of her flying hopelessly through this alien landscape—not realising that the giant with the clear columnar prison and the shingle has her best interests at heart—and catching sight of the foxglove.  My prayers are answered!, she cries and hurtles toward it.

‡ I’d like to say something about always having a foxglove in a vase after this—I’m nearly there with the necessary level of foxglove forest and they last quite a while in a vase—but bees, I’ve read, specialise.  And there’s a limit to how many bee-motel options I could have lined up on the kitchen table.^

^ Peter was faintly cranky when he rang me back, almost immediately, to say accusingly, that was you, wasn’t it?  I know, I know, I put the phone down after only about three rings, I said.  But there was this bee. . . .

 

Putting stuff in your garden

 

 

Ravenandrose

Treasure Trove officially added to a (short, so far) list of house-eating roses I NEED.

Excellent choice.  I would have had to have her if Peter didn’t.  I’m presently trying to decide if I could figure out a flight path for Paul’s Himalayan Musk up at Third House.  Rosa banksiae lutea is a house-eater, and, ironically, is getting going comparatively slowly.  I hadn’t planned for either Mme Alfred or Mme Gregoire at the cottage to turn into house-eaters—or Ghislaine—they just did.  I actually did know I was being silly about Souvenir de la Malmaison.  She’s not a house-eater, she’s just PERVERSE AND DANGEROUS.*  But the only house-eater at Third House at present is Bobbie James, who is cooperatively climbing the copper beech that hangs over from the cemetery.  Hmmm.

I wonder how I would keep the deer from eating them until they were big enough not to mind?

Ahem.  Have you read SUNSHINE?  Yolande’s peanut-butter-baited electric deer-repelling fence is not only for a world with Others in it.  Go google peanut butter deer fence.  Nothing works perfectly—and it’s a huge faff to set up and maintain—but it is pretty much your best bet.  The problem with all the repellents is that deer get used to them.  Oh, yeah, lion dung, big deal, have you seen any lions?  No, I haven’t either.  –And they’re apparently capable of developing a taste for hot chillis.  Electricity goes on working.

Angelia

My Ghislaine de Feligonde is veryvery pale yellow, aging to white. Even though orange is my least favorite color, I think that Morris is beautiful–does it have a scent? I always try to have an Abraham Darby, even though here it is always a less-than-beautiful beige color because I think it has the most wonderful scent of any rose I have ever grown!

Proof of the whole variable thing.  My Ghislaine comes out a deep orange gold and pales to primrose yellow—eventually, sometimes, almost white.  William Morris isn’t really orange, more peach, but she looks ORANGE next to the vivid, very lavender-pink James Galway.  Yes, she has a good scent.  But if Abraham Darby is a dull beige in your area William Morris will probably be grey.  One of the best rose photos I’ve ever taken was of my old Abraham Darby back at the old house.  She’s another of these gold-peach roses, but with a lot of deep salmon-pink as well.  And the flowers are HUGE.  This photo of Morris is a particularly romantic one:  if you like that style you should go cruise the ‘English roses’ aisles of whatever nursery you bought Abraham Darby from.  There are other choices, most of them not orange.

Thanks for the lovely photos…they have me wondering if I couldn’t fit just a few more roses in my yard.

Mwa ha ha ha ha ha ha.

Diane in MN

Deer, at least in my neighborhood, are quite used to dogs and not put off by them (or their scent) at all. Especially since they usually do their roaming and devouring when dogs are in the house and asleep.

Yes.  Suburban deer get totally blasé about all the usual human things.  It’s genuine countryside around here, but English villages are organised on a different pattern—houses tend to be squashed together in a relatively small area surrounded by swathes of farmland. **   There are lots of deer—Roe, around here, mostly—and don’t they just love people’s gardens.  And they get so frelling tame you can’t trust them to run away even if they see you shouting and throwing things.  Or to not panic and try to self-immolate under your car’s tyres.

Here are some suggestions: original scent Irish Spring soap, hung around the plants (temporary if you get much rain); blood meal-based commercial repellent (kept them out of my hostas for a long time); hot pepper spray (also temporary with rain). I’ve ordered a new repellent based on citrus that gets fairly good reviews; I figure if I put out a variety of stuff, they won’t get too accustomed to any of it.

No repellent ever worked for me or anyone I ever talked to for more than a year, and often less than that.  Maybe your MN deer have enough more options to be more amenable to being repelled.  One of the few clear benefits of a move into town is we no longer have a deer problem.  I’m still kind of half-expecting them to figure out Third House.  It’s only one block over from farmland and the fencing is inadequate even for keeping next door’s frelling terrier from crapping in the drive and the entire neighbourhood of cats from crapping everywhere.  It wouldn’t slow a hungry deer down for a moment.  Arrrrgh.

Judith

If you’re not a rose person, what are you doing on this   blog?

I do wonder that sometimes, especially since I also dislike pink.

Snork.  The funny thing to me is that while I like pink I’m not the pink obsessive that the blog persona is.  It’s a handy hook to hang silliness on—and it’s true that if the colour choices are black, white and pink—I’ll take pink.  This is a rant for some other evening, but I spent most of my life bucking against my inner girlie girl, because when I was a kid and a teenager forty and fifty-plus years ago being a girlie girl—especially with a girl-next-door face like mine—was death to any kind of being taken seriously.  I professionally hated pink for decades—and burst out of my parents’ house into jeans, Frye boots and black leather.  I revel in pink—and pearls—now partly as a nanny nanny boo boo to all those jerks who tried to make me believe that frilly and trad feminine equals stupid and wet doormat.

I do feel awfully ignorant sometimes when looking at the rose pictures. I’d never guess that some of those flowers were roses. If I were walking through a garden with a rose person, I’d embarrass myself saying, “Oh, look at those peony beds!” And, “Aren’t those great carnations!” I think I referred to the (hydrangeas? I forget) in my yard in front of an expert once as “snowballs”, but the expert never blinked an eye. Someone else later told me what they were, but I then later forgot again…

Well.  There are roses bred to look like peonies and peonies bred to look like roses.  Ditto carnations.  There are begonias and geraniums that look enough like roses that if you aren’t paying attention to the leaves you’ll think they are roses.  And there is a perfectly good category of hydrangea called snowball so the expert probably did blink, in appreciation of your terminology.

I know petunias, and crocuses, and daffodils, and tulips, and lilacs, and (my favorite) lilies of the valley, and daisies, and black-eyed susans, and poinsettias, and marigolds, and sunflowers, and forsythias…and that’s probably about it!

There are pink lilies of the valley you know . . . the cottage garden is OVERRUN with them.  I like them, but I also rip them up by the bucketfuls.  Not my fault, by the way:  my predecessor put them in.  I also suspect there are petunias, crocuses, daffs, tulips, lilacs, sunflowers and marigolds that you wouldn’t recognize as such, because that’s the way plant breeders are—oooh, they say, let’s see if we can breed something that doesn’t look like what it is.  I personally think trailing snapdragons, which usually have weird little turned-up faces that look more like roses than like snapdragons, for example, are a mistake.  And black-eyed susans . . . there are a million daisy-ish things that get called black-eyed susans:  the rudbeckia family is GINORMOUS.

Oh, yeah, and another favorite: Morning Glories.

Ah yes, bindweed by any other name . . . bindweed has the prettiest little morning-glory flowers.  It’s the same family.  Here’s another rant for another night:  how narrow the line is between fabulously desirable garden plant and migraine-inducing detestable weed.

Gardening.  Eh.  Another of those pursuits of the mad. . . .

* * *

* It’s been drizzling just enough for frelling Souvenir to say YAAAAAAAAH!!!!! and ball like crazy.  No proper RAIN just Souvenir dis-enhancing mist.  Note that I am ALREADY sick to death of watering.  It is my least favourite garden activity:  I like weeding and pruning and tying up and tying down and swearing and all that:  I HATE WATERING^.  And apparently we’re about to have a hot dry stretch^^ like what the rest of the world calls summer, I can do without it.  I like a little light complaining about not having the opportunity to wear my more amusing t shirts, since it kills the purpose if you cover them up with a sweater.  And sunlight is nice.  But we don’t need it all the time.  Grey and miserable!  YESSSSSS!  That’s what I moved to England for!^^^

^ The woman whose garden is full of pots.  Whose pots are full of pots.  Whose pots’ pots occasionally have pots in them.

^^ The moment the last of Souvenir’s gigantic midsummer flush has gone GREY-BROWN AND MOULDY. 

^^^ Oh, and Peter.

** Although this is changing.  Not in a good way.

Not all visitors are welcome

 

The very last thing I do every night is put Pav out for a final pee*.  When this happens EVEN LATER THAN USUAL because, say, I’ve been reading something and HAD TO KNOW HOW IT ENDED**, it may no longer be awfully dark outdoors by the time we get out there for this ritual moment.   Hey, it’s barely a month to the longest day, it gets light really really REALLY early, okay?  So it was like twilight out there this morning, and I was standing there in my nightgown ready to fend the little varmint*** off the rose bushes and my peripheral vision was caught by movement where no movement should be. . . .

There was a big fat mouse lowering the bird-seed level in the feeder by a rate of knots.  ARRRRRRRGH.†

This is my fabulous squirrel proof bird feeder, you know?  The one with the integral cage that only little birds can get through.  Little birds and the occasional frelling mouse—who was soon going to be too frelling bulgy to get out again.  I picked up a stake that didn’t happen to be propping anything important and gave the feeder a move-or-die whack.  Mouse leaped out into the shadows—Geronimoooooooooo!—and disappeared.††

The real ratbag about this is that I’ve pretty much decided that the birds don’t like this feeder.  I have lots of birds in the garden, and the suet block in the other feeder is eaten down pretty reliably.  Er.  By birds:  I see them doing it.  This one—nope.  I assume they don’t like the cage.

Sigh.

So today, which was a lovely day†††, I spent a good bit of in the garden. ‡ And one of the things I did was tie the clematis and the rose-bush that are the likeliest mouse-access-providing culprits away from the seed feeder.

And my little apple tree is blossoming like CRAZY! YAAAAAAAAAAY! I won’t actually stop worrying about what wall-building may have done to its roots till it’s had this year’s crop of apples and blossomed again next year . . . but so far so good.

* * *

* Hellhounds scorn such wimpery.  Pav is extremely continent^ but she’s also always delighted to be allowed to burst out of her crate and attack something.  If the price for this indulgence is that she stop attacking things^^ long enough to have a pee, she will do that with reasonable grace.

^ Barring the standard canine disasters.  My latest trial is that she’s decided that sheep crap is a delicacy.  ARRRRRRRRGH.  Even if I hold her upside down and shake, the stuff is kind of friable, you know?  It doesn’t all hold together neatly and pop out in a nice cohesive lump.

^^ Dirty laundry, nightgown hems+, feet, towels hanging on the Aga rail, etc.  If she’s desperate, dog toys.

+ She has, relatively recently, discovered the joys of rocket-launching her solid little furry self upward inside the circle of hem of the nightgown you’re wearing YAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAH.

** I’ll tell you all about it.  Some day.

*** With the little glistening varminty eyes

† Speaking of ARRRRRRRRGH.  ARRRRRRRRRGH.

†† Pav was sure she’d missed something.  I’m glad to say the mouse leaped into the shadows on the far side of the little courtyard fence.  I don’t like mice, but I didn’t in the least want my hellterror catching one.^  Or diving through a rose-bush to try.

^ Either she’d eat it—and its unknown but guaranteed undesirable parasites—or she’d just mangle it a little.  They scream, you know.  Like bunnies.  Bunnies scream.  Dog owners need to know how to kill things.  Whimper.

††† After we got down to a NEAR FROST last night.  One of my pathetic and ridiculous excuses for staying up reading was so that I could keep an eye on the frelling thermometer.  The temperature had turned around and was going up again by the time I turned the light off.  I get to do this again tonight.  Or not, of course.

‡ Have I told you I have two lots of American visitors coming next week?  I have maybe half a dozen overnight-staying, pond-crossing visitors in an average year . . . and I have THREE of them NEXT WEEK?  WHAT?  One of them is an old friend, and if the house(s) is a tip and the garden(s) is a jungle, eh, she’s seen it all before.  The other one—and her husband—I’m a little afraid of.  Sigh.  But nothing is going to turn me into a magnificent housekeeper, a sublime gardener and a superlative hostess in the next ten days, so we’ll just have to muddle along somehow.

Thorns are a part of life. GAAAAAAAH.

 

SHADOWS IS DRIVING ME CRAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAZY.

            Okay, okay, like this is unusual or surprising or anything.  Books exist to make their so-called authors crazy.  It’s part of the system.  I’m sure there’s a good evolutionary reason for this.* But I’m like hours from FINISHING THE DAMN THING AND SUDDENLY. . . .  ARRRGGGLLLLGGZZZZRRRRMMMMMP.**

            So let me tell you about my major breakthrough in the garden at the cottage.***

            I’ve been taking out some of my literary frustrations in the garden.†  This began about a fortnight ago when somehow or other Gemma got out there.  I don’t let people out in my garden when . . . well, when you basically can’t get through the kitchen door without a machete and/or flamethrower.  I tried to block her but she feinted and swerved and escaped past me (wielding her machete). 

             It’s a mess, I said, following her crestfallenly.

             No, she said judiciously—Gemma has a gift for finding the nice thing to say—it’s just very full. 

            Snork.

            But look, LOOK!  I have been labouring extremely, and see what I have produced!  Unveiled!  Chairs!  A table!  I could sit down in my garden!  With a friend!  —I only have the two chairs.  There aren’t more hiding in the shrubbery or anything.  But you haven’t been able to see either the table or the chairs for months.  They’ve—er—had plants on them. 

And they're GREEN! (Which is why they disappear into the undergrowth so easily!)

You got that, right? That there are TWO CHAIRS and a TABLE in MY GARDEN? I'm just checking.

. . . And then look what a friend brought me recently.  I looked at the roses before I looked at the label, and started to laugh.  I didn’t need to look at the label.  I’ve been resisting her for seven years now.††  But as my friend (who does not live in Hampshire) said, Look, you have to grow her.  How many roses named after famous Hampshire landmarks are there anyway?†††

White rose! Beautiful creamy white rose with gorgeous smell!

Superfluous label.

To be continued. 

* * *

* Like there’s a good evolutionary reason for forty-three species of parrots and nipples for men.^ 

^ Pop culture reference alert.  I feel I need to tell you, since I don’t do pop culture very well, and you won’t be expecting it.+ 

+ Old pop culture.  TIME BANDITS was 1981?!?!??  There are grown ups who weren’t born in 1981.  

** C’mon, Mongo the Wonder Dog!  Pull another rabbit out of your hat-equivalent!^ 

^ Although for anyone who doesn’t read the forum+ b_twin posted a Wonder Dog clip:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pYZy_R5jI8k 

+ You should, you know.  I don’t drag all the interesting comments out here. 

*** And then maybe I’ll go back to SHADOWS for a bit.  Maybe.  Or maybe I’ll go sing something.  I quite fancy Pirate Jenny this evening.  Kill them now or later? —Right now.^ 

^ Okay.  I admit it.  I’m often in the mood for Pirate Jenny. 

† When the weather lets me.  We’re still having YAAAAAAAH INCOMING rainstorms.  Occasionally with thunder.  I’m not sleeping well anyway and I found myself about two feet above the mattress with my hair standing on end a couple of nights ago when there was a thunderstorm.  Generally speaking I like living on a hill—a little hill—but when the sky-giants are using your town as a bowling alley suddenly subterranean looks really good. 

            And one of these nights the new Late Hurtle is going to be interrupted by inclemency.  If not sooner, then later, like, December, when there’s frelling ice on those murky black surfaces.  Meanwhile hellhounds have taken to Late Hurtling with distressing enthusiasm.  When I was just bringing them back to the cottage they would stagger out of their bed at the mews, make the supreme effort of jumping into the back seat of Wolfgang^, and be determinedly fast asleep by the time we drove twenty-three seconds down the road to the cottage, and I’d have to haul them back out of the car again.

            Now I totter down to the cottage from Wolfgang’s slot at the top of the hill with all my frelling kit^^, and by the time I return to fetch hellhounds they’re pressed eagerly against the back window saying, what took you so long?

            Despite my notorious time-related depravity, I have hitherto not been accustomed to wandering around outdoors at mmph o’clock and . . . there are hundreds of hedgehogs out there.  I hope this means that hedgehogs, at least, are having a good year.  I fear that some of hellhounds’ delight in late hurtling may have something to do with a prevalence of hedgehogs:  but I’ve prevented them from catching any yet so I hope they’ll come to appreciate^^^ the quieter joys of . . . chasing the THOUSANDS of cats infesting the landscape at night.  GAAAAAAAAAAH.  I knew we had a cat problem in this town but this is ridiculous. 

            At the moment, however, the lack of aggressive off-lead dogs is worth even six cats to the square foot. 

^ Haven’t you bought that ramp yet? 

^^ I swear one of the best things about knitting is how much it doesn’t weigh.   

^^^ At least till December 

†† I grew her at the old house, and she didn’t do all that well.  Some time recently, but I can’t find the thread now, someone in the forum was ranting about what useless pieces of rubbish Austin roses are and she wouldn’t be caught dead with any of them in her garden, etc.  Hmm.  Well, I do think Austins are overrated because they tend to be presented (at least around here) as the only thing or at least the most desirable thing.  You go to the rose section of your local nursery and there are maybe two or three random hybrid teas and then ranks and ranks of Austins.  Lighten up.  There are other roses.  But roses are like real estate:  it’s all location, location, LOCATION.   If you can find a place where an Austin is happy, she’s as lovely as the next rose—and sometimes lovelier.  I think I’ve mentioned here before that I’m doing much better with Austins in feverishly over-fed pots in a tiny sheltered in-town garden(s) than I did at the old house, which was in a frost pocket.^  So I’m hoping Mme Winchester Cathedral will be fat and contented here.  The flowers are divine.^^ 

^ I know.  Every garden is in a frost pocket.  Ask every gardener.  Still.  The pocket at the old house was frostier than here.  

^^ Which is appropriate after all. 

††† If I ever have several thousand pounds to throw away, I’ll sponsor Austin or Beales or Harkness or someone to produce a Forzadeldestino Abbey rose.   There are other important Hampshire landmarks.

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