Tuesday, 26 February 2013

A Year in the Life of a Lady Gardener - February

There must be many gardening ladies who have been out and about seeing to the jobs which need doing; I have to admit that I worked for exactly one day this month. There is a list of tasks due in February as long as my arm, I didn’t do any of them.  For a few days I simply wasn’t well enough to do anything, the rest of the time it was too cold. The spring flowers which poked their heads above ground in January shrank back again in February. Cornus should have been cut back by now, they’ll have to wait. Herbaceous perennials like hellebores sit in the midst of their browning leaves; too bad. The beautiful bronze leaves of epimedium have shrivelled to an unsightly mess; tough. Etc. etc.


Gardener chose to come and fix the fence on the one sunny day we had this month, which meant that I had to go out too. The fact that he’s taken off his winter jacket in the picture means nothing; he works so furiously hard, that he works himself into a lather. Believe me when I say that I was wearing several fleeces and had my woollen hat pulled well over my ears. And still my nose was dripping steadily in the cold air!


January’s and February’s storms had smashed parts of the fence to pieces and my neighbour Clive, a grumpy old man who lives in a large, ancient cottage all by himself, with only Willow, his fat old pony for company, had been giving me dirty looks every time the wind tore down another bit of the wooden panels. He’d been propping it up with large planks, and even a metal pole, more or less all winter. I expect he only just managed to stop himself from adding a large sign with an arrow pointing to the damage.

Clive is still not happy because Gardener has replaced the panels with pig mesh. “It’s a bit open, isn’t it?"  he complained. “We’re going to grow shrubs along the fence” . I had told Gardener to calm Clive down, they are both genuine Shropshire men and know how to deal with each other, not like me and Beloved, who are ‘From Off’. It’s up to me to erect a fence and I have every right to choose the kind I want. “Make sure you plant them a foot off the boundary”. Clive had to have the parting shot. He’s alright really, keeps himself entirely to himself. When we moved in he found a gap in his busy schedule of pottering around in the field with Willow, his garden and cottage, to remind us that his neighbourliness went no further than telling me when any plants in my garden encroached on his. “ I like privacy,” he said. “That’s good, so do we,” I replied in very friendly tones - someone ‘From Off’ needs to be careful in these parts.


I know I said earlier that I “worked” for a day; truth to tell : I shirked more than worked. I helped Gardener by telling him how to keep his lines straight, dug up a few weeds and stood around planning what to do where. Millie helped with the latter. We also had several cups of tea. Furthermore, I had a very busy time working out who this little fellow was. There had been a flock of bramblings a few days prior, during one of the storms, but they had all disappeared again. Perhaps this one had lost contact with his mates. He sat for ages under the feeders, all puffed up, occasionally picking at the ground; I expect he was catching his breath and it was my duty to stay within reach to repel predators.


However, I have promised to open the garden in aid of charity to paying customers at the end of June; Gardener was full of pity for me and my rash decision and just a tad doubtful that, on current showing,  I would be anywhere near ready by then.





42 comments:

  1. Isn't it wonderful that the garden grows without our command....I am certain your garden will be joy to see for many people...a vast vista of a piece of land that is loved. Fret not about this....it will be grand....unless it rains ;)
    Your neighbor intrigues me...good thing I don't live next to him....he'd be eating out of the palm of my hand by now..like it not
    I adore grumpy people....
    and I make a mean apple pie
    cheers to you in your garden plans for the new bushes....plant them just where you want..it will give the old grump something to anticipate

    ReplyDelete
  2. Wish I was near to view your gardens.
    I know they will be beautiful.
    Only a couple of years of gardening
    in my new edge of woods garden - but I am
    pleased. It is smaller then in the past
    but just enough for me and pleased no
    neighbors are close by - just see them in
    the distance.
    Stay well....

    ReplyDelete
  3. Z,on tuin vergt veel onderhoud maar geeft ook heel veel voldoening.

    ReplyDelete
  4. very cool on your garden....my wife started making the list of to do's this last weekend and took me and the boys on the tour of the yard letting us know...smiles....ha, hope your shrubs work...

    ReplyDelete
  5. Oh, the description of your crabby neighbor was just delightful. Can't wait to see your garden in full bloom and your process along the way to make it beautiful!

    ReplyDelete
  6. Friko - hope you're well on the mend again after your hospital experience. My garden is looking in a sorry state but it's so cold outside. Clive sounds quite familiar - has he got any cousins? :)

    ReplyDelete
  7. Friko ~ I'd love to see your gardens too. Your neighbor sounds like such a codger.

    Enjoy getting your gardens ready for visitors. Better you than me. :-)

    FlowerLady

    ReplyDelete
  8. I would imagine February is the month of least Lady Gardener work even for the ones who have been well.

    I hope it is nearer ready than gardener thinks, in time for the charity. If not, works in progress have something to share as well.~Mary

    ReplyDelete
  9. Definitely want to see your garden when it is ready... whenever that may be. I agree that your grumpy neighbor and his pony sound intriguing. Don't imagine they would allow you to get a picture of them? Probably not.

    ReplyDelete
  10. We are just getting the first of what is supposed to be six inches of snow, so I'm a bit envious of your pretty green and pink stalks in that first picture! I know I'll have much to do when we can finally do it! Rick is already thinking of what seeds to start inside for his potager -- lots of tomatoes again, I hope! It's lovely -- and I'm glad to see Millie up and around, too!

    ReplyDelete
  11. Here it has been too hot and health issues have prevented me from playing in the garden as well. Soon I promise. Soon. I hope that you are much, much better now.

    ReplyDelete
  12. While reading this post, I found myself humming "tunes" from A Shropshire Lad. - would love to have evesdropped on Clive and Gardener's conversation. Don't fret - planning is an integral part of actual physical labor - which will only come on warm, sunny spring days.
    Our seed order arrived this week and since it will be 2 + months before heading outdoors, I can feel no guilt in just planning.

    ReplyDelete
  13. "From 'Off'"--what a phrase! Such a blessing that Gardener and Clive understand each other (being proper Shropshire lads & all). No proper garden to wander through here until it's warm enough to put out the potted herbs, so I will walk yours vicariously, if that's all right. Hope that you are feeling better!

    ReplyDelete
  14. How veddy British to have a grumpy recluse neighbor.
    And how very different your February is from mine. Nothing's growing here except my boredom and malaise.

    ReplyDelete
  15. Spring must have come earlier for you since you are even thinking about what to do with your gardens. It has been so grey here and other than ordering some garden supplies from Amazon, I have not given a thought to my spring plantings. I did see that some of my bulbs are peeking through the ground as I ran in from my warm car to my warm house, but I am not ready to clean up the beds. I am with you. It is too cold and too windy to exert the energy.

    Pass me some tea and biscuits.

    ReplyDelete
  16. delighted to visit with you again in your proper venue, the garden.
    Tea sounds lovely! I think I shall

    ALOHA from Honolulu
    Comfort Spiral
    ~ > < } } ( ° > <3

    ReplyDelete
  17. By June, your garden will be a dlight to yourselves and to any visitor!
    Good thing to know where you stand with your neighbour. I have good reasons to be rather fed up with mine (both upstairs and downstairs), but for the sake of my own peace of mind I chose not to (be fed up, that is).

    ReplyDelete
  18. I loved this.
    I particularly love grasses and all of their family, and the red stems reminded me so much of last summer's nurturing of cord grass, and then searching for phragmites among the wild grass of the beach.

    You make your small acre seem an empire.

    ReplyDelete
  19. June's a long way off and it's good to have an objective in view. Each day brings improvements and strengthening hopefully (in you, that is)

    ReplyDelete
  20. Friko, it's good to see you and Gardener (and Milly, too) outdoors even before the end of February. That colorful little bird is adorable. Hoping he was eventually able to catch up with the rest of his mates.

    I'm sure that your neighbor is very glad that you all are his neighbors. Just think of the other possibilities that would test his patience! Perhaps you'd better warn him now about the June event....

    Thank you so much for your comment over at my place. Research continues, and I'm glad that I can still communicate on my vintage machinery.

    xo

    ReplyDelete
  21. The nice thing about a garden, though, is that you KNOW that sooner or later all the greyness and mushiness and dead stuff will be forgotten and it will be full of colour and life!

    Those who have opened their gardens for charity usually seem to enjoy it, although goodness knows why! :) but they do. So I hope you will too.

    ReplyDelete
  22. I remember that one sunny day very well, Frito and it was still so cold. I haven't done any outdoor jobs this past month and it shows. We are neighbourless here in Wales, but have a neighbour very like Clive next to our French cottage. :-)

    ReplyDelete
  23. I wish I were Close By (rather than Far Off) so that I would be able to visit your garden in June. It's sure to be a lovely sight with your hard work combined with Gardener's. Wonderful snippets of information about Clive.

    Glad you are feeling better.

    ReplyDelete
  24. Now I can see why you nearly don't have any time for gardening - so many blog friends from all over the world. Wow! :-)
    Even in Germany we desperately wait for the first harbingers of spring. But instead of flourishing spring blossoms - snow, cold / winteriness, shades of grey instead of colourful flowers.
    But wir lassen uns nicht unterkriegen...:-)
    Uwe.

    ReplyDelete
  25. Good fences make good neighbours...

    ReplyDelete
  26. Glad to see you managed to get out and about. Gardener looks very tough indeed! And what a wonderful description of your neighbour.

    ReplyDelete
  27. It's far too cold here to play Lady Chatterly ! We still have some snow left and the sun is on strike. A grumpy neighbor with a pony sounds good for a romance, my neighbor solved his garden problems with doing nothing. Everything grows wild and I have to remind him that he has to cut his bushes and trees otherwise we don't get enough sunshine although there is no sun. He always answers me that a natural untouched garden is more beautiful ! Twice the police came and told him to trim the hedge in front of the house because it went over the sidewalk ! Can't we mix our neighbors to get a perfect one ? He only has time for walking his dog and chatting with us on the street if ever he sees one of us. Result when we see him from far we all disappear in our houses because otherwise he talks alone for an hour. And the best is he tells us how to keep a garden clean, lol !

    ReplyDelete
  28. Good luck with your garden for the garden showing in June Friko. I'm sure that if your health holds you will make it no trouble huh? - Dave

    ReplyDelete
  29. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    ReplyDelete
  30. Oh my gosh...sounds like something I would promise. Good luck
    Hugs
    SueAnn

    ReplyDelete
  31. I have masses of gardening that needs doing but it has been much too cold!! Hope you feel better Diane

    ReplyDelete
  32. Hi Friko - I hope you're feeling better now - at long last the weather is looking slightly more encouraging ...

    Thank goodness for gardener - even if the fence isn't quite up to next door's standards once you've allowed some wonderful overgrown creepers and shrubs to cover the spaces - he'll be round every 5 minutes with the secateurs to cut them back ...

    Have a happy weekend .. cheers Hilary

    ReplyDelete
  33. I have been missing your posts (alerts) for some reason...NOT happy about that. Anyway, I left you a note on my blog in response to your note.

    ReplyDelete
  34. My goodness. If you are going to be part of an English garden tour that makes those of us in this country are very impressed. I mean you really are a gardener. YOu do no that we always look to England as a yardstick for a certain type of garden.

    ReplyDelete
  35. On warmer days, I walk the neighborhood and admire the bulbs sprouting foliage. Tulip leaves are even making the odd appearance. Snowdrops have spread since last year, and early daffs are up, some with buds. Early hellebore are wilted and new foliage up on the late bloomers.

    As for work, my big effort today was to upack a new hanging basket. The birds made off with the coconut matting in the old basket, for nests. Your little bird looks like an English Robin to me. Dianne

    ReplyDelete
  36. Wow, a gardening tour, wish I was there. Of course you will be ready. This winter has been long, I am ready for spring now, real spring here is about, oh, May, sometimes June.

    What I miss most are bluebells and primroses.

    XO
    WWW

    ReplyDelete
  37. Although June still seems like a long time away, it will be here sooner than we think. However, I do think that you will be ready - let just get the weather a little bit kinder and you will be out and about.
    I have been busy in my garden as well. February is a work month in the garden, trimming and cutting back, cleaning up - I'm still not done. I've planted seedlings in the new flower beds and hope that they won't be eaten by the deer. So far so good. Tomorrow I'll do another trip to the nursery, I'm looking for blueberries.

    ReplyDelete
  38. Here in Southern California's mountain foothills we ricochet between winter, with snow down to 1200 feet, and an early spring and even summer to 80+ degrees. Lots of plant adaptation/confusion. News reports that the ruby throated hummingbird had arrived quite early this year. Will be interesting to see what else March brings.

    ReplyDelete
  39. Funny... one of my gardening friends phoned just yesterday to say that a couple of weeks ago, a garden club in a nearby town had e-mailed to ask could they tour her garden in April. She agreed, thinking it would be a few ladies who would understand why there were still a few weeds in her beds. Yesterday she learned that they were selling tickets, so now she's in a panic to get her very large garden in "showing shape" for the public.

    ReplyDelete
  40. I saw your garden in spring and summer Friko - and autumn - I would gladly pay for a ticket to enter and enjoy it! Ja, ganz sicher! :-)

    ReplyDelete
  41. It is a huge task to keep up a garden properly, though I have to say that, from the photos, even in its current state, it looks beautiful to me. May all be well and in good shape for the June showings!

    ReplyDelete
  42. A garden is always needing something done. I can't imagine the pressure you will feel about getting it ready for June, but I am sure it will look good no matter what.

    Your character sketches always are a delight to read.

    ReplyDelete

Comments are good, I like to know what you think of my posts. I know you'll keep it civil.