Monday, 14 March 2016

On dogs and gardening!

I come across a large number of dog walkers when I am out and about. There are two I stop and chat to on a regular basis. Their dogs know me and are usually surprisingly pleased to see me. (Surprisingly because I am truly not a dog person!) Most, however, I just pass by with a nod and possibly a "good morning" depending on how grumpy or otherwise the dog walker looks. 

It is not unusual to see the dogs carrying sticks and in general the smaller the dog, the larger the stick! Out running this morning, I spotted a small dog trotting happily along, tongue hanging out of the side of his mouth in that doggy way. Not far behind came his owner ... with a large stick over his shoulder. It must have been eight feet long, between four and six inches in thickness, not so much a stick as the trunk of a small tree. Being a helpful soul, I pointed out to him that he had things the wrong way round; as a rule it is the dog who insists on carrying a stick. He told me he had found a smallish tree fallen down across the path and had collected this large bit with a project in mind: rustic fencing. In fact, he was going to go back later and get another similarly sized piece. Recycling in action! 

This is what happens when you get a bit of fine weather - yesterday and today have been fine and sunny - and people are inspired to do all sorts of practical things that they would otherwise leave undone. The sunshine has encouraged masses of people out into their gardens to poke and prod and weed. Bulbs and spring bedding plants are being put into flower beds and everyone is very cheerful and positive about it. I have not been yet been bitten by the gardening bug. The snowdrops are still nicely in bloom and the solitary daffodil that pops up in the side garden is popping up as usual, all on its own, with no signs of splitting itself into more than one plant. The bluebells on the other hand, although still only a clump of dark green leaves at the moment, have clearly been propagating like mad. 

I never planted bluebells. For a long time you could not buy them anywhere and you were not supposed to pick them as they were, and presumably still are, a protected species of wild flower. A few years ago one just turned up, flowering nicely, in the middle of the grass. I can only assume a squirrel brought the bulb, buried it and then forgot about it. Instead of being eaten, it grew, and each year since then there is evidence of increased bluebell activity. Serendipity! 

The back garden is a different story. The open area that serves our house and the one next door has been reduced to a quagmire with astonishing regularity over the last six months. When it rains for a prolonged period a small lake appears at the bottom of the garden. There seems to be more of a problem with such sogginess than ever there used to be. One theory is that the trees which were cut down to prevent their roots interfering with the drains were in fact soaking up, effectively drinking, much of the excess water. Who knows? Too late now, in any case. 

The situation is aggravated by the two small dogs from the neighbouring house which run up and down frantically and have removed any semblance of lawn, or even rough grass, from parts of the surface. While they continue to run about there seems little point in putting down more grass seed. 

And so I venture into the back garden as little as possible. In the last few days the sun has tempted me to hang washing on the line. Consequently, I now keep a pair of boots by the back door, specifically for forays into the mud patch, desperately trying to avoid treading mud into the house. 

Meanwhile, if the sun continues to shine, surely things can only get better.

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