Gardening Journal – Entry 15

Monday 4 January 2021

Happy new year – and what a year 2020 was! It’s funny how quickly the human brain can adapt. Last year (so glad I can finally write that), everything was turned on its head. Cities went into lockdown, people lost their jobs and loved ones left us. What was once a distant idea became our day to day lives. We changed our habits and, in turn, the world changed too. Aside from the pandemic, I have also noted the speed at which I embraced my last two weeks off. 

I was on annual leave for the last two weeks of the year and most of that time was spent in bed, or waiting to be in bed. I feel restored, rejuvenated and ready to take on everything it has to throw at me.

Today we worked on leaf clearing, as can be expected after a couple of weeks with limited staff during the festive season. We used backpack leaf blowers to clear some Salix babylonica leaves which had come down in Storm Bella. I can’t quite believe how far I have come using machinery. This time last year, I was dreading the use of two-stroke and four-stroke machinery. I had done a little too much research h and seen too many machinery related injuries. Now – with enough Health and Safety Legislation in my head to sink a ship – I know how to identify the hazards and risks and minimise them. Happy days! 

January tends to be the time that I reflect on my progress over previous years and it has brought me some comfort to know that while the world stood still in 2020, so many of us took huge strides individually and came out of it slightly battered, but with more resilience than ever. 

Gardening Journal – Entry 14

Monday 7 December 2020

And I’m back! I know I said that before, but I didn’t anticipate our boat batteries would fail and leave me without reliable laptop charging at home. So I write tonight from a flat – not too far from the canal, but with my feet firmly on solid land. It feels strange, foreign and I definitely need to get used to this. I’m going to start writing these in the morning, before I head off for work, to give myself a chance to take a breather before I pedal my way around the deadly streets of London and to order my thoughts for the day. 

Today was bitterly cold. It was a harsh reminder of what winter has in store for us. I woke up to a message on my phone wishing me a ‘Good Morning’ and promptly making me curl back up into my duvet when it showed me the temperature for the day. Ideally, I wouldn’t get out of bed for anything less than 10 degrees, but living in the UK doesn’t afford me that luxury, so up I layered up to face the 0 degree cycle into work. 

We spent the day clearing some herbaceous perennial beds close to the river. They are planted with evergreen plants such as Pittosporum, Carex, Rudbeckia, Anemone x hybrida, as well as a beautiful Prununs serrula (one of my favourite trees!). We worked on clearing some of the herbaceous growth. Even though the timing was not quite right, we cut back the Carex, creating little hedgehog-shaped mounds. I used shears to cut through them, after trying my hand at it with secateurs and understanding just how long it would take (probably around 400 years). I was slicing away at the Carex in no time and we managed to cut back all the Carex and rudbeckias on the first half of the bed. 

Unfortunately, as soon as we started working, Laurence started sneezing – badly. He is clearly allergic to something we were working wit or around today. Poor man. By the end of the day his nose was completely blocked. As a result, I finished off the bed using a leaf blower to clear the cut grasses. It was challenging to use the machine on such a busy area, as I had to stop every few seconds to allow people to pass safely. However, as always when using the blower, the end result looked wonderful.

Tomorrow is all about clearing more care and herbaceous perennials and cultivating! We have a lovely week this week, with only two full days of work. On Wednesday we have another practical day at college, after which we will be heading to a pub (outdoors, of course) to wave goodbye to this year as a class. Then, Laurence and I have a pub quiz and are taking Thursday off to finish one of our other projects – a Christmas song! There’s a lot to be excited about.