Gardening Magazine

Blight, Rain and Flood

By David Marsden @anxiousgardener

A winter-ish scene

This is a rubbish winter.  No snow, no ice, barely a frost,


just rain.  Lots and lots and lots of rain.


Day after day of tedious, repetitive,


flooding rain.  I’m not prone to depression but weeks of non-stop rain is twisting my arm.  “Rain, rain go away, come again another day” is too polite by far for my current mood.  (My own version has three or four expletives added).


Gingerly treading across the lawns causes accusatory damage.  The grass won’t stop growing and you’d hardly believe that, having mowed just before Christmas, it needs cutting again.  But I can hardly trundle out the mowers onto this … this … mush.  What’s wrong with some good old-fashioned:

In the bleak mid-winter
Frosty wind made moan,
Earth stood hard as iron,
Water like a stone

for heaven’s sake?


Is it small comfort that alder, willow and reed mace are happy?  No, not really.


When I arrived at work last Monday, the bridge to the meadow had disappeared.


Ah, there it is.  It’s too heavy for two to lift but the flood effortlessly carried it 30 feet away.  My partner, Jim, lent a hand in dismantling the beast and we stood, scratching our heads, discussing how to make a replacement.  I’ve never made a bridge – at least, not a proper, grown-up bridge – but will need to do so soon.


The flood swept most of  the duck-weed from the ponds


and dumped it in a thick mat on the west lawn.  Duck weed ends up here most years but not normally in one, single carpet two or three inches deep.  Jim spent a happy few hours raking and barrowing.  He’s a man of simple pleasures.


During last weekend, the river burst its banks for the second time in seven years and left a leaf and debris high water mark on the netted, post and rail fence.  That’s far higher than I’ve ever seen and I felt cheated in not witnessing such a deluge.  Little surprise with water so high that, for the first time since I’ve worked here, a room in the house flooded.  Luckily only one but still, stripping out soaked carpet and furnishings isn’t a fun gardening duty.


After a brief  respite, the downpour resumed and water levels rose once more.  This cycle will continue for weeks, I suspect, unless the rain holds off long enough for the ground to dry out.  In the meantime planting is on hold and mulching is on hold.  I had mulched some beds only for it to wash off.

Box blight (2)

On an equally glum note, the arrival of box blight was particularly upsetting.  I’ve planted yards of box at the Priory and have loved its slow maturing into tight hedges.  This double length is about six years old and, I thought, beginning to look rather smart.

Box blight (1)

Tragic then, to dig up all the plants and wheel them off to the bonfire – along with another infected planting on the other side of the house.  I could weep.  I’ve told myself that other box plants in the garden will be fine – but I’m probably delusional.  I should hate a completely box-less Priory and will scrupulously disinfect shears and box-clippers to lessen the chance of infection.

Did I mention it was a rubbish winter?


As if blight and flood and rain weren’t sad enough, the Priory boat, Despondent, has slipped her moorings, drifted out into the west pond and filled with rainwater.  I need a volunteer to dive in, swim over and haul her to shore.   Anyone?


Thursday last week

As I type, the rain is hammering down again and I wonder what I will find on returning to the Priory tomorrow.  One thing is for certain – I shan’t be mowing.

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