A spot of garden torture

mulberry pre pruneThe blessings of solitude. I was standing up a ladder cutting back the growth on the mulberry tree in the courtyard this afternoon, relieved that no one could see what I was doing.   I had a shower cap on my head, a scarf around my face and I was muttering darkly the whole time.

The reason? Whoolly aphids. This poor decorative and very large tree is coated in a cheery blanket of white wool. It looks like that from a distance, but up close it’s just millions of tiny creatures massed together for warmth and protection and bad news for the tree.

I have been reading up on the problem and the solution, it seems, is to scrub the grubs off in winter when the branches are bare. aphid close up

What they didn’t say was that the aphids would rise up in a cloud of crossness and coat anyone and everything in a mass of dandruff looking dead bug.

Hence the protection. And only now after I have dumped my clothes outside, showered for much longer than a drought risk area would countenance, chased the blighters out of ears and hair and under my nails can I say. Job well done.

mulberry post cutAnd may I never have to do it again.

And it was the sort of day where the torture never seemed to cease. I started off by cutting back all the miscanthus grasses on the edge of the pool garden.   And it ended up being death by a thousand paper cuts. My hands are shredded. Why, oh why didn’t I wear gloves?  I just forgot that the grasses scratch. And when you wash your hands they itch.

That’s the fun of only doing things once a year and never remembering from one year to the next.   Believe me, the grasses in the rest of this sprawling garden are going to be attacked with more protection and more respect. miscanthus cut

I don’t have that many more to go.   But I will be wary.

mulching grassesOnce the grasses were cut back I needed to mulch well around each plant, and also transplant the large gaura shrubs which are in the wrong place up in the calabert garden.   So I decided to combine the two. And that took hours.   The gaura have taproots, the mulch was still in the compost bins and needed sieving and sorting before it could be wheeled into place. gaura to transplant

Goodness I sound whiny. I wasn’t really. It was a hot still day and the woodpeckers are battling out the territory in the forest. And the din from the rest of the small birds is wonderful.

I just wished I was doing more lofty things than bending over a muck heap and trudging heavy loads.   And I must remember to remove a few more layers of fleeces a bit earlier in the day. I was roasting.

mulched grasses long viewI must consult my list and choose something more fun tomorrow. Sorting out the top vegetable garden might be fun.   There are brambles up there and I’m bound to gouge myself on a tendril or two.