It was time to take on the tall grass of the meadow. The primrose, cowslips, fritillaries and pyramid orchids were all gone – the cow parsley and other umbellifers were setting seed. So out came the scythe and the whet-stone and back came the memory of the steady stance, the slow swing and the regular sharpening routine I learned some years ago at one of Simon Fairley’s classes.
Inspired by Painting the Modern Garden, the exhibition at the Royal Academy earlier this year, the gift of a book on iris from a friend on my birthday, and some wonderful flowers in Tuscany, I decided to make an iris bed between the greengage trees in the glade beside the meadow.
The bed gets plenty of sun from early morning to mid-afternoon. Digging it out and removing roots of perennial weeds took ages but the hard work was interspersed with dipping into books and catalogues to decide what to plant and where to go for them. Woottens of Wenhaston provided Jane Phillips, Souvenir de Mme Gaudichan and iris germanica. Peter Beales Roses had a lovely dwarf bearded iris called Hocus Pocus and in Diss I found four pots of an iris germanica named Black Stallion. I plan to plant iris reticulata in amongst these to get some early blooms.
After a year with hardly any duckweed (don’t ask me why) it’s back with a vengeance.
There are 8 ducks apparently hoovering it up for hours every day, but neither they nor the grass carp, which also feed on duckweed, make much difference when there’s this much on the pond. In the right conditions, according to the books, duckweed can double in 3 days.
We clear it by the very simple method of putting on waders, getting into the pond, and pushing a long 6 inch plank held on edge through the water, so the weed piles up in front of it. Enough of the plank is submerged to trap the weed in large quantities.
We push it to the bank and then scoop the thick accumulation of duckweed out with a grass rake, onto a large plastic sheet, allowing the water to drain back into the pond along with lots of tiny creatures. The plan is to reduce the duckweed to the point at which the ducks and fish can eat all the new growth andkeep it under control.
And here is the cleared pond. The green in the centre is the reflection of a bush in the clear water!