Saturday, 8 November 2014
Taking the lawn view
We had the first frost of the winter on Thursday morning. It was the cue for me to rush outside to take photographs, and to see if the wasps in the nest above my daughter's bedroom window had been zapped by the cold. There was no sign of the little blighters, so I hope they have succumbed.
The tabloid papers in the UK have been running lurid stories predicting "the worst winter for 100 years", but on a crisp frosty morning, when the clumps of santolina look like an edging of grey fur, it is difficult to take a negative view of the impending winter.
On the other hand, it is all too easy to take a negative view of the lawns. There is way too much lawn in my garden, and although I have spent quite a lot of the past two years creating new borders, they are still too narrow to be in proportion.
Cutting out borders is back-breaking work, involving a half-moon edger to cut through the turf or the weeds, a spade and a lot of huffing and puffing. There are so many thuggish perennial weeds, I can't just rotavate it, and I hate using weedkiller.
My soil is typical Cotswold clay and limestone, which isn't as bad as it sounds. The limestone is comparatively soft, and breaks down easily, so I never have to dig out huge boulders, and the thousands of small stones that litter the soil help it warm up in spring and keep it drained (well, sort of) in long periods of wet weather.
Clay soil holds on to nutrients well, but is difficult to work in winter, when the mud clings to your spade and boots. At times you feel as if you are slowly accumulating your own weight in mud. Come to think of it, you probably are.
The trouble is, there are other parts of the garden that require attention more urgently than this bit. So the lawns will have to wait a while. In the meantime, I'll console myself with thinking up outrageous plans for an elaborate parterre, with gazons coupés (where patterns are cut into the turf and filled with sand or gravel) and lavender hedges.
It will never come to fruition of course, but the planning is half the fun, don't you find?