Pernicious Tendrils


Today was dull, but the rain largely kept off, and we were able to continue with the gardening.  Jackie helped me with the preparation of the scented bed.  What I pruned off or dug up, she cut up and bagged up.  All in readiness for the next bonfire.  This afternoon she carried on with her own projects and Elizabeth with the weeding of the herb bed.

I managed to get far enough with the new bed to compost the beginning of it so Jackie could put some plants in.  We had found a number in pots covered by the undergrowth and forgotten.  In particular there were three of tradescantia (outdoor variety) destined for Mum.  It was a good thing that Jackie decided to check them over, for each one contained a thriving colony of red ants.  As she laid them out on plastic sheeting in an effort to persuade the ants to seek a new home, she suggested I didn’t sit on the edge of the table unless I wanted ants in my pants.  Noticing the absence of our friendly robin, we recollected that we hadn’t seen it for a few days.  Jackie had, however, unearthed an unidentifiable avian corpse from a flower bed.

We have got to the stage where we are beginning to think of garden adornments, other than the ubiquitous hanging baskets.  Rickety benches which could not safely hold a human, make a good plant table; as does one of Elizabeth’s painted treasures.  Moving the little girl mentioned yesterday was just a start.

My target for today with the new bed, was to reach a row of grass cuttings which had been laid alongside the laurel boundary hedge a year ago.  This was a nice clear bit which, with any luck, would have broken down into compost, and kept the weeds away.  En route to this heap, I tackled the additional menace of lilac suckers which had to be uprooted.  I wasn’t too worried about the long trailing stems of honeysuckle and ivy which could be pulled until resistance was met, then dug up where they had taken root, then on to the next rooted bit.  The ivy was, however, getting thicker-stemmed the nearer I got to the laurel.  All right, I thought, I will find it bound around the laurel trunks, and have to set about removing it.  Well, I didn’t get that far.  I did reach the hedge, but will have to leave eradication of the mature ivy until next week.  This is because the lovely warm, rotting, packed chunks of grass cuttings had provided a perfect incubator for little pure white tendrils.  Lots of healthy young ivies.  There are three different unwelcome plants with which I have done battle in three different gardens.  Bindweed in Stanton Road during my childhood; ground elder in Lindum House in Newark; and ivy in Sutherland Place, W2.  What they all have in common is that they send out long tendrils which take root whenever they feel like it and produce a new plant, and so on ad infinitum.  The other property they share is that of being able to reproduce themselves from the slightest little rootlet or stem left behind by the most careful of gardeners.  I never did get rid of Stanton Road’s convulvulus; it took sixteen years to rid the Lindum House vegetable garden of ground elder; it took two weekends to clear Sutherland Place of ivy.  Ivy is the toughest of all these to remove, as, if undisturbed, it can grow extremely thick stems which cling to branches and walls and are sometimes impossible to prise off.  But it is not as sneaky as the others, for its tendrils remain overground.  It gives you a challenge and a chance.  The little white tendrils I had discovered today, would eventually have emerged into the light.

This evening last night’s chicken bolognese was served with vegetables, and we had the same puddings and wine or beer according to our taste.  Afterwards Jackie drove us home whilst I dozed by her side.


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