Those of you who know me, even if only through my random ramblings on the Daily Blog, will surely recognise that I am the peace-loving type, one who goes to great lengths to avoid confrontation.
This is, after all, the reason why an enormous spider is still leering at me from my bedroom ceiling knowing, as he does, that I am not about to tackle his presence in my personal
sanctuary any time now. Even though I am the fortunate possessor of a spider-catcher, a gadget gifted me by my friends Ted and Margaret, which could deal with the Eight Legged One in seconds. However, it’s those legs that are the problem. Margaret has
warned me that I need to operate the spider-catcher carefully in order to catch the spider in its leggy entirety, otherwise I run the risk of amputating a limb or several. I simply can’t bear the thought of it, hence I have yet to use the spider-catcher
in anger - and I am convinced the Leggy Mini-beast on my ceiling has my number.
I mention all this because it makes it all the more unexpected that I am currently
engaged in a war with a fearsome foe. One with a seemingly endless capacity to wound at will, one which outnumbers me in every respect, one with quite vicious intent which appears determined to thwart me at every turn. In short, I am waging war on the brambles
in my back garden.
Nasty things they are, rampaging through my borders with thorns so sharp that it makes you quiver just to look at them. It is true that
at a certain time of year, they will bear fruit so delicious that Mr B will be licking his lips at the thought of apple and blackberry pie - but enough is surely enough. I need to re-assert control - if, that is, I ever was in control. The brambles have invaded
my garden and I must fight back or forever live in Bramble Land.
The only likely implement I have at hand is a set of secateurs which I have been wielding gamely,
endeavouring to transfer each thorny branch I snip directly into the garden sack provided by the local council so that I don’t actually have to handle it. I can’t imagine this is the right way to tackle such a thorny problem but I know no better.
Except that, later in the day, I find myself reading the wise words of Rachel the Gardener. I happened across her while googling “brambles”. As you do. There
were any number of contributions arguing the age-old question: when is a bramble a blackberry and when is it not? Answer: when it’s bearing fruit it’s a blackberry, any other time it’s a nasty, horrid bramble. There were also a few recipes
for bramble jelly and the like which I skipped in case they took me Off Mission. My eye, however, was taken by the headline “Bramble removal - how to do it.” I do like a headline that tells it as it is, don’t you? Rachel the Gardener advises
ideally hiring a man with a brush-cutter (which she describes as a strimmer on steroids) but, failing that, reckons secateurs are the way to go. After a session with the secateurs, she says: “you should now be tired, sweaty, scratched and cross...”
Oh, Rachel, how did you know?
Now for the clever bit: Rachel the Gardener has given me a useful lesson, complete with photographs, on how to find, just below ground
level, the little pink buds from which new growth will spring as surely as, well, Spring if not removed at source. You don’t have to dig out yards and yards of roots, says Rachel, just the bit with the buds on. I rather think Rachel the Gardener may
well be my new Best Friend Forever. I haven’t experimented yet because I gave myself a welcome break transplanting antirrhinum cuttings which have the distinct advantage of being thornless - but I will be out
waging war again tomorrow.
Those brambles don’t know what’s going to hit them.