Sandy’s Garden ... En-Garde!

Sandy Simpson
Sandy Simpson

I was looking hopefully at the fairly extensive fencing which delineates the boundaries of my garden.

Offering up a silent prayer, I hoped it did not really need the extensive refurbishment which I feared might be the case.

So I was not altogether surprised when my prayer was not answered for, the more I looked, the more I could see needed to be done. Ah well, there’s nothing for it but to bite on the bullet and tackle the task, trying hard not to even think about how many hours of toil lie ahead. Let’s get started!

The first … and most urgent … job is to address the issue of the tops of aging fence posts, the oldest of which have been in place since 1967 and the most recent of which are rather more than 40 year sold! They are made of ‘tantalised timber,’ which means that they are of sawn softwood timber, pressure treated with Tanalith preservative to prolong their lives. Despite this, 40+ or 50+ years of exposure to our climate has taken its toll and splits are appearing in their tops, allowing rainwater to penetrate their defences and to begin its destructive work. Clean and seal is my preferred solution and, many hours later, I have completed this first stage in the refurbishment process … successfully, I hope, although time and some torrential downpours will be the acid test of this aspiration.

Now let’s tackle the living green fur which is growing on many more parts of the fence than I had thought. There’s lots and lots of it coating upright posts and longitudinal spars alike, in many areas on both sides of the wood and not just the side which is more shaded; this unwelcome discovery adds considerably to the amount of work which will be necessary; and the discovery that I cannot recall any proper description of the chemical preparation which I need doesn’t help! I’m sure there was some left over the last time I did this job; squirrel that I am, I will have kept it; and even though the product may well be totally unusable on account of its age, the label on the tin(?) will reveal what I want. But a search of garage and greenhouse is fruitless; and recourse to the timber preservative shelves of B&Q doesn’t reveal anything which looks like what I think I want … and these words ‘what I think I want’ are very relevant, for I have wasted an employee’s time by being unable to offer him any proper generic name for what I think I want.

At home once more, recollection strikes! I know where the old tin is! And yes, there it is, illogically stored with out-of-date garden chemicals and still labelled ‘fungicidal wash.’ Alleluia! But the internet reveals that that this particular product is no longer on the market; and none of the suggested alternatives seems to be what I think I want. Hours of reading product specifications and approved uses later, I conclude that what I actually want is so widely-available that I can buy it in any of my local supermarkets!

That done, just as I was about to start my spraying (where possible) and painting (where I was close to plants) task, I bade ‘Good morning!’ to a hi-vis-clad man bound for Network Rail’s territory, for you will no doubt remember, gentle reader, that Network Rail and I share a common boundary. I did actually say, ‘Good morning!’: but it turned out that it might have been more appropriate had I said, ‘En-garde!’, the French for ‘on guard’, a term uttered by the referee before the start of a fencing bout to signify to the fencers that they should get into positions. For he was about to start … have you guessed? … a thorough inspection of Network Rail’s fencing to ascertain what work was needed to maintain it in good order. Two fencers’ minds with but a single thought.