Even in the most well adjusted households, there will be adversity. Unplanned pregnancies, broken fingernails, damaged fences; the first can be re-homed, presuming that we are talking about puppies or kittens. Future trouble may be avoided, neutering the animal by banging a couple of well aimed bricks together and it doesn’t hurt, provided that you keep your thumbs out of the way. The second may be filed smooth and waited for; your nails grow at the same speed as the continents drift apart. In the last instance, you have to take immediate action. Refrain from bad language and keep calm. You need a clear head and steady hand to deal with disaster.
Catastrophe verticalis (big buggerit)
Cut down any plants that, before the storm, used to cling to the support. Reduce the overall height of the climbers by two thirds or trim below a break in the branch. Twiggy bits can be shredded and composted, so all is not lost. Try to look at this not as a crisis but an opportunity, as the rose/vine/clematis probably needed a severe pruning anyway. At worst, you may lose next year’s flowers. If you can’t replace the trellis right away, prop up the remaining plants with canes, metal hoops or children who want pocket money, whatever is available. Tie up the stems with lashings of soft string, to avoid wind rock. Don’t leave shrubby growth to flop or more injuries will occur. Such harm will be in direct proportion to the cost or sentimental value of the specimen and if it would take a hurricane to uproot it, well, the un-British climate phenomenon that descends upon us will be your fault for courting catastrophe.
Haemanthus albiflos (paintbrush plant)
This may be a good time to trail around looking for items which would benefit from some assistance. Take down the top third of rose stems, particularly if they face your prevailing bad weather. Truss up trees and strap shrubs to stakes, if they appear to be vulnerable. Of course, if your trellis is at all fragile, a fierce blast of cold winter air will find the weak spot. Thoroughly tethered plants will act like a sail and the entire edifice is at risk of destruction, if not relocation to the next county. I append a photograph of last weekend’s calamity, when Attila’s raspberry railing and end frame bit the dust, due to previously un-noticed decay in the guaranteed rot proof timber. The rose thereon was a gift from one of my oldest friends who hates horticulture but nevertheless chose an exquisite, scented and charming example of why I forgive her for being misguided. The ornamental grape was a rare bargain from a far distant shop which is otherwise hideously expensive. The fruit bushes look as if the military used them for target practice with some exceptionally heavy duty artillery, or perhaps the cavalry conducted a charge straight through my back garden.
Hedychium flavum (yellow butterfly ginger)
When the smashed wood, scattered nails and far flung screws strewn like tank traps have been collected. After the pureed branches have been gathered and your hopes of next summer’s magnificent display have been put aside for another twelve months. Once you have raked up the drifts of fallen leaves, go into the kitchen and make a cup of tea. Chase away friends that you want to keep, together with impressionable infants. Shut the door. Now think of the dirtiest word that you know and shout it at full volume. Repeat as necessary.