The first frost has struck the Priory and the tropical bed wasn’t happy. Dahlias were disheveled, discoloured and crumpled when I turned up for work (bright as a shiny new button) on Monday morning.
I bundled all that dahlia top-growth off to the compost bins and wrapped up the banana (Musa basjoo) in hessian. This is a hardy banana and doesn’t really need winter protection. But, if you don’t wrap it up, it will be killed off to ground level.
If you do protect the ‘trunk,’ when growth restarts in the Spring, it’ll start from the top of the plant rather than from the ground. You will, therefore, get a bigger, taller plant, year on year. I’d already moved some plants to the safety of the greenhouse – after all the frost was hardly unexpected. A red banana and ginger lily are already sitting toasty warm under glass.
I also dug up my beloved Colocasia esculenta, potted it up and moved it indoors. It performed pretty well this, it’s first, summer. I did site it though up against a large clump of arum lilies and so it’s lovely big leaves were pretty much lost against theirs. I’m such a klutz.
The dahlia tubers I’ve left in situ, under a thick mulch of leaf mould. I do intend to lift and dry them in a week or two when I’ve got a spare moment. Why not now?
Well, I’m going away for a few days. We’re off to the Cotswolds. And then on to walk 60 or 70 miles through the Forest of Dean and along the Wye Valley. Visit family. Visit friends. See some sights. Drink some beer – obviously.
Now that that pesky, beautiful Indian summer is over with, it seems like the perfect time to go and do some walking – in the rain and mud and cold! I do know how to have a good time.
… and I should like to fix it. (That’s a phrase straight out of a 1970′s Hungarian/English phrase book; in the Socialising/Dating section). But sadly, I don’t know how. I have tried. I asked Reg (his real name) to fetch his implausibly big digger and help me. He dumped a huge digger bucket of wet clay on what we thought was the site of the leak. It’s great being able to call on Reg. As long as the ground is firm enough to support the enormous weight of his almighty digger, he can trundle into the Priory grounds and scoop out mud and oozy stinky stuff from the pond margins and ditches. He can take away piles of waste soil (a by-product of having loads of new brick paving laid) and spread it on Margaret’s fields. He can even dig new ditches – and has. It’s like having a huge Tonka toy to play with. Or having a hotline to International Rescue (Gardening Division).
And he can dump great dollops of wet clay on a suspected pond-leak – but it didn’t work.
What we thought was the site of the leak wasn’t – the west pond still leaks. Luckily the leak is quite high up on the bank (somewhere) so it only takes the water level down to a certain level (see above photo) and doesn’t empty it completely. Still, it takes it lower than I would like. And that means that after a prolonged dry period, like we’ve just had, it falls really low – like this:
|The lowest water level I’ve seen in the west pond.|
Not so much a pond then as a sludge. The West Sludge. Still, I should be able to get over to the island without having to tug on my waders. “Soon, I will pull on my wellington boots and strim my island.” That’s in the phrase book too.
It is, undoubtedly, curmudgeonly to wish for rain but – I wish for rain. There I’ve said it. A lot of rain. I need days of rain. It is only after a deluge that water pours into the Priory gardens from the surrounding fields. Only when those fields are saturated does water pour into the east pond, and then, when that’s full, it pours into the ditch and then it pours into the west pond – until it’s brimming. It will be really, really full for a while and I shall be pleased. But, it will start to seep away again because my pond leaks and I should like to fix it.