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Despite England’s reputation for moderation in many things, occasionally we get a moment of blazing summer sunshine and that brief instant is when my friend chose to move large quantities of dirt, from one end of her garden to the other. Jasmine had been very busy digging herself a water feature on one of the hottest days of the year. After all that hard work, she retired to the kitchen for a well earned cup of tea and a treat. Upon turning her back for a millisecond, she found that her large and handsome dog had eaten her custard tart. Jasmine was laughing when she recounted the story; if it had been me, I would have had a new rug in front of the fire. If I was feeling merciful, he would still bark when I stepped on him.
Begonia “Connie Boswell” in the conservatory
Begonia “Connie Boswell” in the conservatory

I wanted to give the girl a gift that her pet would not inhale from the table and consume without tasting. I dragged Attila out for a little forced labour in our own pond, to grub out some Iris pseudacorus (yellow flag). I rinsed the duckweed off the plant and its prodigious roots, since I didn’t want to make another a martyr to the filthy stuff, for the rest of their lives. I potted up in ordinary garden soil, since rich compost will promote the growth of algae and blanket weed. I topped it off with a thick layer of gravel, which will weigh down the container once immersed and will prevent the earth from floating away. The whole thing made a large statement, which I hope will go some way to extending a pooch’s prospects.
Lathyrus latifolius “White Pearl” (perennial sweet pea)
Lathyrus latifolius “White Pearl” (perennial sweet pea)

Spouse has long, muscular arms with which to reach the overgrown plants at the far side, without taking an involuntary bath. Having introduced him to the concept of a little aquatic employment, I pointed out that all of the marginals could benefit from some attention. I said that there really wasn’t much to do, just a bit of a tidy-up and pointed out that after his initial anointing with mud and slime, he could hardly smell worse.
Sanguisorba canadensis & Potentilla fruticosa (white burnet & shrubby cinquefoil)
Sanguisorba canadensis & Potentilla fruticosa (white burnet & shrubby cinquefoil)

Lysichiton americanus (skunk cabbage) is reviled in the UK, where it has escaped from garden cultivation into natural waterways and is giving native plants a run for their money. I’ve never noticed any egregious stink for which the species gets its common name. If it is a bully elsewhere, in my estate it is a sissy. Iris and Inula have seeded themselves in its container and made it into a shrinking violet. I attacked the squatters and re-homed them, while husband beat up the farthest specimens. Perhaps in revenge for the grubby jobs doled out, maybe because he thought it was amusing, probably from inattention to detail by the man in my life; when the fountain was given a jet wash to improve the flow, I got several gallons of ice cold water in the face, made interesting with a soupçon of eau de rotting vegetation and parfum des fish poop. When I remonstrated, Attila said that I should be grateful for his assistance and I am. I maintain that he now owes me a turn of the compost heap, to even up the overall niff, reek and pong.

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