Well, that little heatwave was little indeed. A few days in shorts and a few nights throwing off the duvet, and then yesterday it was back to being a car wash. Wifey caught the meteorological zeitgeist perfectly late Thursday afternoon as she methodically tied cushions to the garden chairs in preparation for an endless summer. It started raining about 10 o’clock yesterday morning and those cushions suddenly resembled recently used lifejackets. They are still drying out. When people have moaned about the weather this year then tend to have done so by directly comparing it to last year which makes some sense because last year’s weather was awesome, but at the same time we had a lot more time than usual to be in it or to stare out of the window at it (those with slightly longer teeth will then mutter something about the glorious hot summer of 1976, a year made more extraordinary due to my arrival on the planet, an event which should really be marked by a statue so that people can violently daub insults and faeces onto it and topple it into a nearby harbour for something I may or may not say years from now that someone might take offence at). In fact it doesn’t make much difference what the weather has been at any other point because what is important is that the weather (mini heatwave not included) has been a bit shit, though it is, as they say, good for the garden.
‘It’s good for the garden’ (which sits not very far away from ‘cheer up, it may never happen’ in The Phrase Book For Optimistic Arseholes) is amongst the standard responses that can be given to anyone moaning about the rain, not that it ever needs saying; of course rain is good for the garden, though it’s less helpful news if you live in a block of flats. Or prison. It is rather handy that we have a modest little garden to call our own because if we didn’t and someone tried to explain to me how all this rain is ‘good for the garden’ I would have to give them some crude dentistry work with a rake. Perhaps I could use a gardening fork instead, a utensil that Wifey mistakenly calls a pitchfork, regardless of how often I have to conjure up an image for her of some grim Klan rally or explain what the cheery fella is holding in Grant Wood’s ‘American Gothic’. Anyway, threats of life changing, invasive gum treatment aside, our garden has done well so far this year, and it isn’t all down to the rain.
By the end of last summer our lawn was reduced to the colour of sand and the texture and volume of an old ladies chin whiskers. And that was just the good patches. Successive years of misunderstanding and close mowing had done it few favours and I had run out of ideas, because the last time I had tried to grow grass seeds and give it some nutrients I had ended up killing more grass than I saved. On top of the general decline in grass the lawn was also becoming very familiar to a gang of high profile weeds and so, after several minutes of in depth research and cross referencing, I phoned the first local lawn doctor that came up on Google and asked him to come and take a look (I don’t think there is such a thing as a doctor of lawns and frankly I don’t think there should be; start giving doctorates for saving a lawn’s life and next thing you know there will be cushion doctors and professors of wheelie bin maintenance, and then the qualification system will be of even less value than it has already become).
Since then our lawn doctor has popped by every few months and done something to our lawn and then disappeared again, and to be honest I just let him get on with it (I hope that in 30 years time the lawn won’t file a complaint relating to historic poaceae (a fancy word for grass) abuse and unearth some almighty, green fingered scandal). Whatever he does it seems to be working because the garden has never looked healthier and the grass is now as thick and lush as Burt Reynold’s moustache in ‘Smokey And The Bandit’. Indeed it is so thick and lush that mowing it has become less of a chore and more an act of pure satisfaction which ends with a green blanket of joy to appreciate every time; and in turn this reminds me that while an astro-turf lawn may be more practical it pales in comparison on almost every other level. I can almost sense that the lawn mower has been given a new lease of life as well, as it glides its way through blades and culms and juicy chlorophyll once a week and then retires to the shed to feel all good about the one job I ask of it every week.
Such is the new condition of the lawn that I have more pride in it and therefore more reason to keep it that way and so I decided to invest in a sprinkler, a device I have until now considered wasteful and mildly elitist. I was slightly spurred on by my less than desirable neighbours, who have finally elected to re-turf their back garden so it no longer resembles an art installation called ‘Fly Tipping and Dog Shit on Industrial Wasteland (with trampoline) #3’. Noticing their somewhat underwhelming sprinkler at work I opted to go for something a little more high end, but in my haste had failed to take into account that sprinklers come in different sizes for a reason. Only once I had tried it did I realise my new sprinkler could not only be used to water Libya but would also happily spread the joy right over the fence to Algeria, Egypt and most of northern Chad. The other setback was that due to the stupidity of our retractable hose the device would need to stay on when it needed moving slightly so every adjustment was turning into a wet t-shirt competition with myself as the only entrant and judge – this means that I won each time, but I can think of no shallower a victory to be had.
We now have a new, dinky, multi option sprinkler that works just fine (if you own an estate larger than Norfolk and need a barely used sprinkler then make me an offer) and some semblance of order has been restored to our little garden and the green, green grass of home. It goes without saying that I have now totally jinxed the entire summer because by buying a sprinkler I have doomed us all to another four months of juddering deluge, and if this is the case please accept my apologies. Alternatively it’ll be so dry we’ll end up with a fucking sprinkler ban. Who know what will happen with the weather this summer? Seriously, who? Yesterday was forecast as passing cloud and the odd shower and it rained for seven hours solid instead. I’m not saying the weather people don’t know what they’re doing but they could definitely do with doing it better. Either way, if I can get to September and still having a lawn that looks like a green version of Jesus’ beard then I’ll be very happy; so bring on the rain by all means but don’t feel compelled to remind me it’ll be good for the garden.
G B Hewitt. 05.06.2021