The time has come to pack away the final few autumnal gew-gaws from the garden in preparation for the onslaught of winter. They have to go from the garden, the problem is where to put them all now. The shed is already filled with more chewables than any over-wintering rodent clan could possibly masticate and the greenhouse has every single inch of ground space occupied, despite which the weeds will thrive through the dark cold days ahead and, by next year, will have entwined themselves, like a macramé straightjacket, around everything within. Never mind, we’ll get in what we can. There is always space to be found. I am king of the teeter. The rest will go in the garage – as soon as I’ve emptied that into the loft.
Job 1. Remove all garden mirrors from walls and fences and store securely in the shed, from where I can sweep up all the broken glass in the Spring. Place all associated fittings in a plastic bag from which I can extract a single rusted nugget in April.
Job 2. Disassemble garden table. Remove motley selection of ill-matching nuts and bolts and place in a different plastic bag which will disappear before the table needs re-assembling – much like last year’s. Place in greenhouse to over-winter, protected from frost and snow – or would be, if I didn’t smash glass getting it in. Tape bin liner over gap and make note to buy new pane – probably after breaking another pane getting table out next year. Lose note.
Job 3. Cover garden tap with swanky non-fitting garden tap cover. Ponder whether the tap or the cover is non-standard size. Hacksaw piece out of cover and slot the rest in place over tap. Pick off floor and throw in bin. Wrap tap in old towel – again.
Job 4. Wind loose hose back onto reel. Stand up bird bath and disengage hose from its base. Make note to repair hole in fence where bird bath fell. Lose note. Find strange, insect eaten note from last year in pocket reminding me to repair gate. As back gate has since fallen down and smashed wife’s favourite planter, make note to burn gate in fire pit. Just as soon as I’ve hidden broken pot.
Job 5. Commence search for fire pit. I know we had one last year. I remember putting the dead shrubbery in it.
Job 6. Remove pump from water-feature that replaced pond. Pond was deep enough to prevent pump from freezing, water-feature, apparently, is not. Can listen to tinkle of water only during summer months. Never mind, can listen to tinkle of mirrors and greenhouse in the meantime.
Job 7. Remove cat crap from lawn. (You’re quite right, should have been job 1.) Remove cat crap from shoes, kitchen floor and stair carpet. Will turn cat inside out if I ever manage to catch it. Spend several hours trying to work out whether there is a way to divert the 240 volts going spare from the pump into the crapping cat.
Job 8. Having removed excrement, it is time to give lawn its winter trim. Gather up all dismembered sods and pile them behind the shed, where they will turn green for the first time in twenty years. With any luck, the moles will decide to emerge through the bare patches so that I don’t have to fill the holes in Spring.
Job 9. Pack away lawn mower for winter. Store in an easily accessible space, facilitating speedy disposal of seized-up wreck next year.
Job 10. Check fence for rotted and/or missing panels and nail sections of broken conti-board over them. Make note to advise next door that 5½ inches of each 6 inch nail is protruding through their side of fence. Lose note. Possibly with Insurance renewal.
Job 11. Search garden for slugs and snails, but find none. Garden like gastropod nirvana in summer. Every area of concrete shines like a mirror. Everything green stripped to skeletal remains in seconds. Where do they go in the winter? St. Tropez? Looking around the shredded devastation of my flower beds, they should be very fat wherever they currently are. Understand that some slugs have a cannibalistic tendency. Half expect to see a single six foot slug behind the shed. Make note never to approach compost bin after dark unless carrying salt and a big stick.
Job 12. Clean last winter’s cruddy remains from bird table. Discover last year’s hammer and possibly nails, now looking like something dredged up from mediaeval swamp. Discover note from last year about parlous state of bird table foot. Raise bird table to examine base. Bird table roof falls on head. Make note to burn bird table if ever discover whereabouts of fire pit. Nail note to side of bird table. Head flies off hammer and decapitates garden gnome. Place gnomic remains in hole with shards of planter and bury as deeply as handle-less spade allows.
Make note to self to write witty and entertaining blog about my day. Lose note…
Weeds are flowers too, once you get to know them. A.A. Milne