In the garden
For a couple of days this old English ditty looped through my noggin:
How many kinds of sweet flowers grow
In an English country garden?
The refrain repeated earlier today as I sat on our deck, mug of Tension Tamer in hand, and gazed at the forty shades of greenery in our backyard garden. A dozen shades were species of weedy grasses, none of which had sprouted from the sack of specialty seeds I’d bought at The Specialty Seed Shoppe and sown like a biblical … well, sower, I s’pose, broadcasting seed in hopes of fertile ground.
But all the grass was some shade of green, so what odds, eh b’ys?
I considered the sweet flowers growing in the flower beds Dearest Duck had so faithfully tended in early June, crawling from one to another, coaxing perennials to stand tall and brave the node-east wind.
Hostas hardier than dandelions are thriving but many plants have their blossoms squeezed shut like scrinchedup eyes atop stalks bending in the wind.
Lupines — second only to dandelions in my heart — stand tall, their chests stuck out defying the wind. Of course, Dearest Duck hadn’t planted the lupines. They blew in on a breeze at some point or were deposited within liberal offerings of bird whoopsie.
I love them, nonetheless. Back to the English country garden.
I bet a loonie most folks who know the song think only of the flowers. That’s all I hummed until I poked through Mr. Google’s song books and found additional lyrics —
How many insects come here and go
In an English country garden?
Cute insects mostly — fireflies, butterflies, moths, bees.
Green Grubs are not mentioned in the song, only indirectly, considering those leaf-chewing critters are butterfly larvae.
Those friggin’ grubs are stealthy.
Every day after the baby gooseberries form I search the gooseberry-bush for evidence of Green Grubs. Clumps of Green Grub whoopsie the colour of turnip tops is a sure sign. Nope.
Then the first day I forget to check — the first time I blink, so to speak — the friggers appear overnight and chaw every leaf down to its stem.
An aside: Granny had the cure for Green Grubs — DDT! Sacks of it drifted in clouds when she shook it on her gooseberry bushes.
Concerned for the health of her first — and surely favourite — grandson, Granny warned, “Don’t eat any of them berries until after it rains.”
I must have heeded Granny because I’ve never shown any ill effects…hic…ill effects…hic. Aside ended. Apparently no slugs come and go in an English country garden. None mentioned in the song, anyway, but then, a slug isn’t really an insect.
There are slugs in our garden. I can see them from the deck in broad daylight without benefit of additives in my Tension Tamer. Truly.
The Black Slug slid into this area decades ago. From Outer Space apparently. They definitely appear alien.
I’ve seen them reach up, crack off tulips and proceed to slime their tops to nada. I’ve found them stretched the size of capelin in the grass. They are tough buggers. Sometimes it takes two chops with a shovel to sever them.
Actually, I have a machetelike knife that I carry on slug hunts.
“Harry! Been spiking your Tension Tamer?”
“Dearest. I thought you were at The Mall.”
Since she’s back from The Mall, I must mention Dearest Duck’s Growth Inducer, a concoction she hopes will encourage her carrots to grow as big as baloneys.
Last fall I fetched kelp from local beaches and stogged it into the largest Rubber Maid tub Dearest Duck could buy at Walmart. I weighed down the cover with bricks and let the tub stand in the garden all winter.
And the early days of summer, steeping all the while.
Last week, Dearest Duck removed the bricks, prised off the cover, and capsized among the rhubarb, overcome by the fecund odor that burst from the tub.
What a reek smothered our outport garden.
Dearest revived, nipped her nose and dipped kelp juice from the tub. She poured it voluminously over carrots barely into their second leaf…
… and now our garden smells, not of sweet flowers, but as if a clowder (Yes, clowder, I checked.) of Kilkenny cats has been daily going whoopsie in the carrot patch.
But look at the size of those carrots pushing up through the ground! Shoulders on ‘em like Olympic swimmers.
Top that, English country garden.
Thank you for reading.