This is a decent bit of weather we are having. At least we can go home not soaked to the skin or with frostbite. I spend some time tidying the beds, pulling the first of the weeds and the last of the beech and oak leaves. Some precious leaf-mould is then barrowed out and forked onto the beds.
The wisteria has been pruned, the winter growth cut back hard to two or three buds to produce more flower-bearing spurs. The old gardeners always talked of two and sixpence, meaning that the wisteria is pruned in the second and sixth month of the year. If you prune them much later then you risk damaging new buds when you clamber around on the jolly old ladder.
The ground roses have been pruned too. So many books have been written on the subject over the years and I have no desire to add to the list. All I can say is that you need courage, intuition and a sharpened pair of by-pass secateurs. There are guidelines to follow, such as cutting out inward-growing and crossing branches and reducing the height, but really each rose is unique and has its own way of being pruned. There are no golden rules.
There is still an edge to the wind and I have my faithful woolly hat on. It has seen one or two seasons and rather lost its shape having been through the washing machine too often. I am rather fond of it though. I like to think it makes me look chic and bohemian but my wife assures me that it makes me look daft. A branch mischievously snags it as I walk past and the hat is left dangling in the air. I can hear the trees sniggering at me.
Mole-hills are appearing everywhere and the breeding season will be upon us soon. Grumpy George reckons there are more moles living in the village than fish in the sea. The church has not a grave-stone standing straight because of the mole tunnels running underneath.
Charlie is in the stables tuning the traps so the trigger will go off at the slightest touch. He has a way with catching moles that he learnt from his father. He does not set the traps where the mole-hills are but rather he finds where the mole nests under a tree or shrub nearby. He seems to know just where the tunnel is and as quick as a whistle he has dug into the tunnel and placed the trap and covered it with turf again.
Charlie’s father earned a penny or two catching moles on the neighbouring estates in his time. Farmers resented their pastures being ruined or their agricultural implements being damaged by the mole-hills. Then he would sell the velvet skins to the glove-maker in town and make a few pennies more which were all appreciated in those lean days.
All of a sudden there is a loud hollering coming from the stables. Bones has gone to pick up the traps but one of them was still primed. He stands there holding up a blue throbbing finger, shouting all the profanities under the sun and then some more.
It is not good to laugh at another mans misfortunes. So Charlie and I begin to giggle hysterically instead. Bones is not amused…