Country Style. Not the magazine, nor the mode de jour. The brand of ice-cream that comes in a non- descript, cream coloured bucket, suitable for hiding amongst the mulch in a non- intrusive manner. As I am not the ABC, I can share that little bit of branding with you in case you are interested in trying the bucket under the rose bush method of liquid fertiliser delivery, as mentioned last week. I was quite taken aback by the vibrancy of the old blue bucket captured and immortalised by the Impatient Gardener’s lens; you will be relieved to know it has been returned to the feed shed where it has been the chaff measure for some years, holes and all. (As I do not enjoy ice-cream, cold teeth syndrome, I cannot recommend the flavour of the Country Style product. Merely its packaging).
I am writing this week with punctured fingers, swollen hands, and bleeding arms; pruning has started in the Moble garden. Roses have been the focus over the last few days and whilst I would always suggest gloves to you dear reader, the very nature of the pruning mist descending often means that you start without.
Ostensibly, prior to a day set aside for pruning, one would don some sort of well- equipped outfit, resplendent with sharpened secateurs, pruning saw, those amazing long-handles loppers that look like horn tippers but aren’t, string for tying up here and there (plants) and an excellent pair of sturdy gloves. Perhaps the outfit would include a leather apron, as worn by blacksmiths, welders and German dancers? And the gloves could also be crafted from strong leather, with a sleeve to protect the forearm and its jumper? Indeed, this all sounds so practical I think I shall walk across the bridge afterwards and see what is on offer in the Moble workshop.
As ever with me though, pruning it is more a compulsion than a plan. I wilfully ignore the subtle hints the garden gives out for weeks. The lying, sighing, bedraggled heaps of chrysanthemums, quietly suggesting that their peak weeks are long gone, and they would appreciate a decent hair cut (wouldn’t we all?) so they can get on with their new lives. I noticed only this morning actually, how pretty the red-tinged leaves are on them. Not sure if it is a nod to the season or some sort of nutritional deprivation but either way it is pleasing to the eye.
Then July looms and one morning you are taking the recycling out after breakfast (wine bottles to the rubbish bins) and hours later, you have wreaked havoc with the small kitchen secateurs, apron-less, gloveless and quite possibly clueless. This happened here last week, and I have now settled into a more sustainable pruning rhythm with gloves to hand and the appropriate pruning tools. Unhappily for my hands, its possibly too little too late; however a small amount of daily post-breakfast surgery undertaken by the Impatient Gardener armed with a scalpel is improving the thorn situation and I think peak infection has passed.
So, the pruning tempo swings as follows: clear out at ground level, then stand back and look at the top and cut back accordingly, tossing all behind to land somewhere vaguely near parked trailer or barrow. Wheelbarrow out with garden debris and wheelbarrow back with sheep manure, spread and top with some mulch if you like. Tie up and stake anything that needs it, clean up the edges and move on to the next section. All the while try not to stand on/kneel on all the little seedlings emerging underneath and around your garden beds, easier said than done.
I take cuttings as I go (remember the pots filled with my cutting mixture at the ready) and have taken salvia, rose and mulberry in the last ten days or so. These will hopefully be ready for the RFDS Garden day here in September. If you have a garden muncher, you can recycle much of your prunings back into the garden as well, always so satisfying to not waste anything and to make new from old.
Of course, you will all have your own pruning rhythm; some will be double time, some will be more of a three-four waltz. Mine is possibly a more random five-eight jazz rhythm, where you never quite know what comes next. Any clean up is better than none though so do not be daunted; when the pruning mist clears and you look around at your efforts, there will be light and space. The starkness and quiet calmness of the winter garden will be revealed.
Just in time for Spring,
The Moble Gardener
I thought I would share a few shots of my special nursery, now brimming with cuttings. The milk-bottle-sawn-in-half-trick has worked well for some Salvia cuttings.