Did you feel spring in the air at the weekend? Daffodils seemed to burst out of the ground, magnolia buds studded the suburbs. I gardened in a T-shirt. It was heaven.
I didn't think I was up for more gardening after wearing myself out last weekend, but by Wednesday, when the Trusty Assistant was home unwell and I was at home looking after him, I managed a few minutes in Shirley's garden pulling out weeds. Remember how I talked about perhaps needing staff? A reader suggested having a working bee, and as I pulled out clumps of onion weed and popped runners of creeping buttercup out in the afternoon sun, I had a brilliant idea - get my sister and nephew over for a day getting rid of jasmine.
Jasmine completely covered the front fence behind Shirley's garden when we first moved in. We cut back about half of it to make room for my tomato patch, but had left the other half. It was tangled in a plastic trellis and thick ropes of it ran under the ground. I had been putting it off, thinking it could wait. But seeing how the sun stayed in that patch all afternoon, I thought about how I could use it, and decided it was time to knock the jasmine off.
So Saturday found my sister, my nephew and Trusty (and the chickens) out in the garden weeding as we'd never weeded before. The boys quickly lost interest and headed off somewhere less jungly.
Jasmine can be quite a lovely plant if kept under control, but left to run wild, it's a bit of a garden nightmare. It spreads by runners that hook into the ground with deep roots. Many of the nodes where roots adhere to the soil were the size of my knuckles, others were like knee joints. Shoots often went for metres before emerging from the ground and climbing and choking whatever they could cling on to.
It took about two hours to clear this space, with both my sister and me snipping and digging and ripping up wires of jasmine.
Part of why it's so great to have a good crew helping you out with the big jobs is that it keeps you going. If I had been out there snipping jasmine by myself, I would have taken a million tea breaks, lain on the grass in the sun "thinking". I would have given up and gone inside to watch the fencing or the boxing or anything at the Olympics.
It was great to be able to get into the space, and weed under the rhododendron, under the daphne, and see the garden from totally different angles. I see so much potential when I look at these pictures; I see paths for Trusty to wander in and explore the garden. I see a crop of potatoes breaking the soil in, I see beans crawling up the fence. I see pumpkins scrambling along the ground. It makes me very, very happy.
Do you garden with crew? Or is gardening a solitary, contemplative activity?
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