“Stop tickling my leg” said Attila. “I’m not touching you” I protested. He put his hand to his thigh and opened his fingers under both of our noses, to reveal a colossal spider clenched therein. It looked faintly irritated. My big butch man retreated down the garden path, shaking himself like a bear and squealing like a girl. During further education, I had cause to dip for water borne wildlife when testing a stream for pollution. I was crouching amongst the herbage counting bugs when I felt a similar frisson and instead of the grass stalk which I was expecting, came away clutching a large black beetle, all knotty legs and twirly antennae. I don’t object to creepy crawlies but the unpredicted nature of my visitor made me react in haste and I flung the poor beastie in an arc over the hedge. In doing so, I caught the adjacent lecturer a sharp blow between his shoulder blades, toppling him into the effluent laden brook. In the refectory that evening, the other students gave me a standing ovation.
Hyacinthus orientalis “Blue Star”
I wanted to start the new season with a tidy workspace, so cajoled my husband into helping with the reorganisation of the decade. I bearded a lifetime’s collection of plastic flower pots and passed on or recycled at least three quarters of them. I must confess that it hurt; I’ve known some of the assembly for thirty years and saying goodbye was like parting with old friends. If I want to reach the potting bench without contorting myself into a “W” shape, then something has to give. I’ve amalgamated half-a-dozen buckets of broken terracotta. By dint of smashing the shards with a heavy hammer, I’ve reduced the bulk and rid myself of some stress in the process. If anyone wants industrial quantities of crocks, give me a shout.
Arum Italicum “Marmoratum” (Italian arum)
The bin bags, trugs, sacks and other waste carriers caught me by surprise. Laid end to end, I reckon that they would encircle the town. I managed to throw away one that had split at the seams. The compilation of plant labels, seed packets and cultivation instructions has been secreted behind the boxes of fertiliser, where I hope that my spouse will never venture. Should he find them, I can retaliate with his excessive saw and screwdriver shame. Despite my dirty disposition, Attila installed a new shelf for storing bonsai dishes and esoteric chemicals like Cheshunt compound and hormone rooting powder. He put hooks in the walls for my anthology of arcane equipment; this means no more rummaging in teetering heaps of ironmongery, when I want a draw hoe and the Dutch hoe just won’t suffice. Essential kit has been scrubbed and oiled, surplus duplicates have gone to new homes.
Spick and span
Staff at my local charity shops have taken to barricading their doors and hiding behind a closed for lunch sign. I can see their frightened eyes peering over the counter, through the window. Those brave men who police the recycling depot are now bosom buddies on first name terms. My tatty trailer has earned its keep with incessant trips to the tip but I can at last see both the conclusion of the project and the concrete floor. My scrobby shed is now shipshape. Bring on spring.