Friday, May 27, 2011

Well - it moved for ME...

Planting a new burst of petunias this week I unearthed many things along with the old dead ones – sticks, snail-shells, a bit of old greaseblob put out for the birds and understandably spat out… A huge grey and black stone buried under the surface… or was that a tatoe infiltrating the pot?

I gave it a tap with my trowel but the clunk was indistinct, so I maneouvred the trowel underneath to dig it out, and it set off of its own accord...

It sprang to the side of the pot then turned to see if I was still there – a splendid chunky garden frog.  Very Like these garden frogs having a party in someone's pond:

Back to my frog in the plant pot - I suspect from my squelchy delvings that I’d been overwatering the petunias, and during the current drought a mini-swamp must have seemed rather appealing to a frog. This one stayed very still while I carefully picked him and his pot up, and carried him slowly across to the kitchen to see if we had any garlic.

Yes, of course I'm fibbing. (Although I confess to consuming frogs' legs when presented with them by someone for dinner).

Anyway, I was already in love with this specimen of amphibeanhood, so I repotted him in the shady leafy long-grassed rocky part that is much of our garden, then watered his new surroundings liberally. Frog Paradise!

In fact, I’m thinking of starting a Home – a sort of Saint Toadywinkles…

What d'you think?

Monday, May 9, 2011

The Battle of Shepherds Hay

As part of the Hideous Scar Competition currently being run by hideously scarred specimens CI and JW:

George has unearthed this ancient and faded, black & white scar image from my Morris Dancing Days...

Pitiful though this scar may look to the naked eye, this was a fearful battle of Bells and Big Sticks, following a performance of Shepherds Hay that went disastrously awry. Thank Heavens you can't see the blood!

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

The Trouble with Gravel...

…is its unruly behaviour.

Have you got Gravel? Would you like some? Had you, like us, occasionally dreamed of covering over that scruffy bit of mud and weed, yet never confronted the task?

Until a delighted friend described how a Nice Gravel Delivery Man had simply steered his lorry round their garden, depositing an even gleaming layer, before driving off beamingly.

We’ll do it! quoth we.

Things got off to a disappointing start when our delivery man couldn’t get his enormous lorry through the gate, so emptied his mini-skips just inside it. He then looked back and forth weighing up the four mountains of gravel and our yard, and said, ‘You mean, you’re going to spread it all round here?’

This was puzzling – did we need more gravel? More yard? But with a baffling gallic shrug and a snort and a Hearty Hi Ho Silver, he was Away...

Since all comings and goings via the gate were now somewhat hampered, we set to with frenzied rake and wheelbarrow to spread the stuff around. It took two days of groan and ache and ‘Go away! I'd just got that bit Perfect!’

Anyway, when at last we’d rolled the final pebble it was Fabulous and fortunately, a timely downpour dispelled the cloud of dust and transformed its appearance from stumps of blackboard chalk to Real Gravel!  Why hadn’t we done this years ago? Perhaps we should be thinking water feature and trellis while we’re at it…

The cats weren’t quite as thrilled as we were – they gave it a delicate poking, then shot across as if on hot coals. Undershoe, it was satisfyingly crunchy, except when scaling the slight incline to the gate when it was like snowboarding up a glacier in an avalanche. "Bit slidy, isn’t it?" yelled a visitor as his car veered out onto the road.

Fine tuning, that’s all it needs…

And then came the Weeds… sprouting triffidly between every stone. Surely that’s not right? Surely gravel not only looks smart but keeps weeds at bay?

No. Weeds are kept at bay by weeding, and weeding gravel is particularly irksome. If you pull a dandelion out it brings its clump of earth with it and leaves you with a gravelly soil mix. You must scrape away; weed; scrape back.

So we asked around and we googled and we experimented. (Avoiding cat-killing chemicals).

We concluded that:  you need several vats of salt&vinegar potion ro de-weed half a square metre of gravel; that point-blank steamer nozzling was surprisingly useless (although it permanently de-skinned my finger en route); and that George’s crème-brûlée blowtorch was really satisfying one weed at a time but we could do with an industrial-canteen-sized one.

I’ve also been out there thrashing the weeds in the manner of John Cleese. But just for my own satisfaction really…

Well, we’ve just had another torrential downpour, and I can see the weeds Bursting Forth anew. And suddenly the answer’s clear – Paint It Green! I was delighted to find that Green Gravel exists!  (They seem to be suggesting you can also use it in your aquarium!

 I think this "Neon" is particularly attractive. (How many 5lb bags are there in 4 tons)?

Now for appropriate burst of Mott the Hoople: