I find that it’s futile trying to persuade Attila to thrash the ground elder, unless I can convince him that it’s wearing Chelsea strip. Getting him to remove grass from borders or dandelions from the lawn is an easier job. In the same way that intelligent men never learn to operate washing machines or vacuum cleaners, your partner may find it impossible to tell the difference between groundsel and a tree peony. He may reason that he has to destroy only a few treasures before you leave him in peace in a deckchair. Insist that he replaces all of the good stuff that he obliterates and indeed, accompanies you to the nursery while you agonise over the many choices available.
Epiphyllum “Omeinishiki” (orchid cactus)
Make use of his muscles and give him a manly job like cropping dead tree branches or moving heavy containers. Don’t task him with lawn care unless you want to return to the garage in an hour, to find that he’s stripped the mower down to nuts and bolts, because he thought that he heard a rattle. I asked my husband to remove a huge clump of Carex which had seeded itself beside the pond. After prevaricating for a week or so, he rolled up his sleeves and got stuck in. He dug out the vast ball of grass, only to find that more had spread into the marginal plantings. He dragged these out of the water, on to the path. The mess was incredible and the smell was worse. I checked that work was underway and went around to the front in haste, to plant annuals in pots.
Papaver paeoniflorum “Black Beauty” (peony flowered poppy)
When instructions were necessary, Attila made his way over to ask me what I wanted. I could tell that his appearance was imminent, as the odiferous nature of the aquatic medium advertised his presence before his voice did. I pointed out that I wanted to keep the Libertia grandiflora which had become enmeshed in the brutal mass of weed. The leaves of the pretty perennial were exactly the same as the sedge but with a tinge of blue. I recommended using two garden forks to prise the roots apart and that he hurry, since I found his proximity and thus the reek of rotting vegetation most unpleasant.
Acer shirasawanum “Aureum” (golden full moon maple)
Between us we had accumulated too much tough stuff to cram in the bin, so I hitched up the trailer, to take it to the tip for recycling. When we were fully laden with a quivering pile of green waste, including the stinking festering gunge from the pond, he dropped his key in amongst it. The only back door key that we possess. We emptied all of the scrot onto the drive, until we found the vital object, right at the bottom. I left my observations unspoken, you might have said that I was tight lipped. He helped me to unload at the refuse depot, without comment or complaint. We returned home in shattered silence and he retreated to the bathroom, whence he showered until the hot water was exhausted. Thereafter he retired to televised football coverage, where I left him to the roar of the crowd and the burble of the commentators. I would call that a fair result.