Sandy’s Garden ... High on Grass

Sandy Simpson
Sandy Simpson

What a difference a few days of Mediterranean temperatures have made to our garden.

Shrubs, which were carefully trimmed back just two or three weeks ago, have leapt upward and outward, spilling into and over pathways where we brush against them now that the rains have come! Bedding plants seem to be anxious to break out of the confines of their pots, planters and containers, overflowing with brilliant blooms and luxuriant leaves. Even our trees have joined in the jolly capers, stretching towards the sky and towards the horizons with gay abandon. In many ways it has been glorious and I am not complaining, especially since I no longer have any real grass to mow, edge and tend in a bid to keep down the lawn weeds whose seeds have been lurking unseen, waiting patiently for their chance to take centre stage.

And, although I no longer have any lawn, I still do encounter weed grasse, ever-willing to invade any territory where they can find a foothold - or should that be ‘roothold’? Very recently, surveying our garden with a sense of real satisfaction at its colourful, tidy appearance and casting a glance up at the attractive appearance of tall shrubs near the dining room window, my eye was caught by something peeking over the guttering. Grass? Yes, undoubtedly grass, which I am certain was not there just a few days ago, even though I cannot be sure that I just didn’t notice it until now. But it doesn’t present a problem, does it? Fetch a stepladder from the garage, find a safe footing for it, summon Ailsa to hold the steps secure while I mount them and remove the offending weed. Simple.

But it was not as simple as I had expected. Having climbed high enough to stretch a hand up to grasp the weed, it was very reluctant to abandon its proud position. A few stalks came away, but the plant remained firmly rooted in place. There’s nothing for it but to climb to the very top of the steps where, standing gingerly on tip-toe and steadying myself with one hand on the wall, I can just see into the guttering. Heavens above! My ‘small’ weed is a goodly clump of well-established grass, firmly rooted in a substantial quantity of what seems to be earth but is, presumably, well-matured and aged moss detritus washed down from the roof tiles. It’s in full bloom and coming nicely into seed and it’s well and truly bedded in; I wonder, briefly, whether to ask Ailsa to fetch some tool to help me dislodge it or whether to dismount and fetch one myself, opting for the latter course of action when common sense assures me that, at my age, I should not think of standing atop an unattended set of steps.

Climb down, go to the greenhouse, select a small fork and narrow trowel and return to my somewhat precarious … for an old man … eyrie. Then it’s ‘Gardyloo!’ … ‘Look out below’ … as I commence loosening and removing a truly astonishing amount of this growing medium. The offending plant is, I reckon, Poa annua … annual meadow grass … a very common weed, whose seeds have found safe haven in my guttering. But their safe haven, I now discover, has created a blockage in the guttering which has allowed rainwater to build up to the top of the fascia beneath the bottom of the lowest row of tiles. Then, of course, it has run down behind the fascia to collect on the unseen topside of the soffit, where it has been doing what standing water does to ill-ventilated wood; it has engendered wet rot.

My relatively high position on the very top of my stepladder fades into insignificance compared to the elevation of my temper on making this unwelcome discovery. My slackness in not having the guttering cleaned … despite offers from itinerant men on our doorstep and cards delivered through our letterbox … will cost us dear. High grass, high temper, high cost!