Thursday, 20 October 2011

Clearing ditches and other glamorous pursuits.

My head is as claggy and rusty as this prize antique 'buoy' I found in the ditch the other day, when clearing out the ditch. The absolute glamour of my life sometimes overwhelms even me. But I was excited by the find, after I fathomed it wasn't a war mine or something like that. Orkney is full of relics (not just me, I hasten to add) and it would be just my luck if I found a mine living innocently in my ditch. In real life, I think I might have been that lucky, but not on this occasion! I have to say it didn't stop me teasing the children, who I did have convinced just for a bit, I'd found a live mine in the ditch. As my diligent daughter attempted to call the coast guard (we stopped, her don't worry), I did thnk perhaps I shouldn't tease them so.

I've an excuse, I've the brewing of a cold, but don't tell me, I'm in denial. I prefer my life like that, its less complicated. I'm also tired, having stood in for the garden guru guy, who had been booked to do a talk, he's great and I'm waffly at best, and with a cold, probably more incoherent than normal. No one left, or appeared to fall asleep today during it, so I think I might have got through it! Anyway, a cold, me, snuffle sniffle no siree, not me, I don't need a cold. Anyway even if I did have something like that brewing, I've plenty honey and lemon drinks, just in case you understand, I've really NOT got a cold. Well, not yet anyway.  And with the power of flowers (lemons are a consequence of flowers and honey is but a syrupy mixture of pollen grains' I'll be OK. Work to do, back to the high life of ditch clearing.....
Having cut back half the elder hedge earlier this month, I've left half of it standing, to keep the chickens with a bit of shelter. But, by doing this, I'd been forced into thinking about clearning the over grown ditch, or if you want to put your glamorous head on, a wee burn, by the back door. Lets face facts, its a ditch. Nice wall though eh?
I've yet to get a spade and really dig it out properly, but I've cleared the way for the edges and made a start.  I never knew there was a stone wall there, hiding all that time. If I'm honest I have some wierd obsession with being clatty and muddy and digging things like ditches. Its at moments like these, knee deep in slobber, I'm at my happiest. Wierdo eh?  I'm so glad Mr F isnt' a gardener, I like doing things like this by myself, selfish me. I'm sure he doesn't mind.

The next job is to dig out that stone and place it back to being upright and clear down the ditch properly. I might even think of putting some wild local yellow flag iris (Iris pseudocorus) here next year in a shelf along the bank if I can do that. Might be nice? Before that I have to do war with the nettles who have wound themselves all through the Elder and the ditch grass. Why do I always get stung by nettles, if I'm in a 50m radius of a nettle, it finds me and bites me. Hold grudges nettles do. Being more of a 'skin flint' or natural gardener, I don't want to use chemicals. However, nettle tea, a liquid plant fertiliser, considered by many to be similar in its nitrogen benefits as comfrey tea (for the plants not for me!) so I might let it grow and keep torturing it  by making a fertiliser bucket up next year and practising 'death by drowning'. A fitting punishment.
For now however, I've contented myself with cutting back the grass verges to encourage the wild flowers to be even more abundant next summer, it was a real show of orchids and wild flowers last year, I want to make that better. If I cut back at this time and remove the grass, that will help that along. Lazy gardening. I cut it back using the big sit on mower, and allow the wind to do its work and remove the cut grass. The best way to maintain a wild flower meadow/area is to cut back the grass at the end of the summer and remove it from the site, thus, hopefully lowering the nitrogen, increasing the chances of the little flowers to pop up through the pesky grass.
 Now if the wind would just lend a hand and shift that pesky cold, which of course I don't actually have, but might be brewing, I'd be most grateful! After all, I've ditch mud to shift and finish that first job. Who knows what other treasures are lurking in the muddy deep of the pseudo-burn?


  1. Does the water flow? A ditch would just sit there, glowering at you ;~)

  2. I do that exact same denial thing, when it comes to colds. At the very least you can shorten the experience by days, just by ignoring it. During the middle part, if you do get sick, just stay in with books and maybe tequila and feel justified. The surprise stones are beautiful. Doesn't it just feel wonderful to do things yourself! But it's that sort of thinking that's led to me painting the whole giant house, be careful. And get well!

  3. That is the coolest thing to find that old "buoy'. I would have been dancing around with excitement. I love the rock wall in the "wee burn" as well. I would love to return to Orkney. I wanna live on Shapinsay.
    Keep saying NO to the bug. Run as fast as you can from it's path. It works!!

  4. And you have your very own standing stone, as well as a buoy and a wall and a ditch. And a not-cold.

    I'm glad the standing in for guru guy worked well too - tol'ya :)


  5. Colds are a prize bleeding pain.....especially this early in winter(?) The stone wall looks fine and the ditch will be improved by a splash of colour from Irises next year, I'm sure. Yon bouy and standing stane thingy look suitably auld.

  6. Well I have it on good authority that your talk was excellent and everyone enjoyed it!! And you MUST come and visit me! I've not been pushing cos the weathers so awful....but if you like being claggy and muddy - my garden is for you! Tee Hee!!

  7. E. Eye it glowers!

    Linnew, I'm ignoring it. The wall is gorgeous, isn't it.

    Paula it's a real find isn't it? I'm really chuffed.

    Jan it's an awesome peedie standing stone. I'm going to sort it upright.

    Baith things are auld yer actual, I've no mind to have a cold this early in the winter!

    Sian, happily visit, nice to see the bribes I handed out worked!