I've just come in from a major weeding session. My clothes are soaked with sweat, my hair is stuck to my neck like seaweed on a boot, the knuckles on my right hand are stinging with cactus prickles, several other fingers are suffering from ripped nails, I have deer fly bites everywhere, and my left elbow hurts.
I've been working quite hard the last six weeks or so, first getting ready for a craft show at a slightly distant location, and then getting ready for a Garlic Festival at my local Farmers' Market where I have a permanent booth. Making pottery is time-consuming, so when I need a lot of new stock in a hurry it means all day in the Studio. No time to garden! Today my kiln is cooling and I decided it was a good time to take a day off. I had to ignore the fact that the Studio is a mess (entirely Rosie the dog's fault for ripping up her cushion and spreading stuffing all over the floor), and to convince myself that there was no point in starting any of the overdue orders... but I needed a break.
I decided to spend the day weeding.
It's been very dry, too, so choosing to work on the Hillside Garden was maybe a strange choice for a Day Off, but there were a few things that badly needed dead-heading if I wasn't going to have about a million seedlings next year, and the Goldenrods that I somehow missed in the Spring were blocking the Phlox and other things that the Hillside is supposed to be about. It was lovely and cool when I started, only about 18C and breezy. Great weeding weather.
The Lady's Mantle was pretty much finished blooming so I cut it to the ground. They'll look bare and shabby for a week or two, then the new growth will appear and they'll look fine again for the rest of the year. My technique is to grab a large handful of stems, and take a big chop with my secateurs. Unfortunately one of the chops took out part of the nail on my middle finger, but it wasn't deep and the bleeding soon stopped.
Lamb's-Ears were due for a cut as well. The leaves are soft and furry, but the flowering stems sure aren't. Three wheelbarrow loads of flower stalks! Had to put gloves on, my hands were both burning from the prickly stalks. Yes, I know, shutting the barn door...
Talking about prickly, the small Cactus patch near the side path really needed attention. Lots of Yellow Oxalis, most of it nestled right in among the cactus pads. Being a particularly intelligent but sneaky weed, it made sure it wasn't taller than the pads, so I couldn't grab the tops and yank. I've heard of people using forceps to weed cacti. Wish I'd had some. The knuckles on my right hand really wish I'd had some.
By this time it was getting hot. I went in for a quick lunch and the only thing I found in the fridge that required zero prep time was a pair of wieners left over from an attempt to use wieners to get Rosie to take a pill (didn't work, and now she's suspicious of anything wiener-like). Maybe I shouldn't have bought garlic-flavoured wieners... good thing I was home alone.
Back outside I attacked the Goldenrod next. The plants were a good six feet tall, and were in front of other things only four feet tall. This is one of my gardening specialties - putting tall things in front of short things. Another one is putting cute little conifers in the rock garden and then finding out that they get to be 30' tall, but that's another story. Anyway, Goldenrods. Very hard to pull out when they're growing in dry clay on a hillside! Small stems came out easily enough, but the thicker ones needed a heavy pull and would then pop out unexpectedly, sending me wind-milling wildly to stay upright, without stepping on too many nearby plants. I know perfectly well that the Goldies will be right back (I didn't dig out the roots, just pulled the stalks) but I am very good at fooling myself and anyway it did look better.
A Peony bush was so heavy with seedpods the stems were bowed right down to the ground. I clipped the pods off and the bushes sprang up again! That was fun!
Yellow Foxglove is making a bid for Hillside Domination. We were mano-a-mano for a while, but I think I''m winning. And this year I got to them before the seeds were ripe! If you don't, then when you so much as touch the plant, it explodes it's tiny black seeds all over about a six-foot circle and you're in for it next year. Also, don't put the ripe stalks in the compost as they won't die there and when you use the compost they will all germinate. I know this for a fact. Nice flower, great soft yellow colour, but bad personality.
After that I had to call it a day and go in, hot, sweaty, thirsty, garlic-y, deer-fly bitten and with various minor discomforts as mentioned.
It was a wonderful day.