Gardening Magazine

Flood And The Pigeon

By David Marsden @anxiousgardener

This is the wettest winter I have known at the Priory.  DSM_8892

It has rained for weeks and water pours into the grounds.


The ducks at least are happy – I’ve never seen so many.  One day I counted twenty-two: normally there are five or six.


The water level is very high.  The island on the west pond has shrunk to a skull-cap.


The island on the east pond is underwater and the rotten old duck-box has flooded.  I was going to fix it but what’s the point?  Half submerged, it is of no use to a roosting mallard.


Strong  winds and high water have proved a boon in one respect.


They have mostly swept away the duckweed which has plagued the east pond for three or four years.


The winds and running water have funneled the ‘weed through the ditch towards


the point where flood waters exit the grounds.  The duckweed swirls and settles against the beech hedging.


In places it drifts into a thick


spongy carpet.


I shall need to remove it – it is even deeper and heavier against the rabbit netting.  But what to do with it?  I know from experience that duckweed doesn’t compost.


The grounds are sodden and gardening has been impossible.  Just walking across the lawn turns grass to mud.


I spend many rainy days in an old Nissan hut chopping firewood.  Sometimes, when I stop to stretch my back or turn up the radio, I look out at rainbows.

I often check that the river is running clear and not about to flood.  One day, I was on the old brick bridge and saw a largish bird float awkwardly down the swift current towards me.  It bumped off the river banks and branches, spinning as it approached.  I thought that it was a duck but as it twirled closer, I realised that it was an unhappy wood-pigeon -  somehow dunked in the water.  I watched it sweep beneath me, then ran across to see it emerge on the other side.


She came to rest amongst some entangled woodland flotsam and it was clear she didn’t have the strength to get out.  I couldn’t leave her and so, in a feat of quite dizzying heroism, I plunged down the bank and into the river (uttering a voiceless scream as icy water poured through my leaky waders), grabbed her and carried the poor thing off to safety.


I took her up to the heated greenhouse and nestled her on an old coat.  I thought that after a while, I would open the greenhouse door and the pigeon would fly out with a grateful Disney-coo and wink.  But sadly I was wrong and within a couple of  hours she was lifeless: her head tucked beneath a wing – my pigeon-saving heroics all for naught.

It seems that even when I am unable to garden,


the Priory has something new or interesting to show me.


Something to catch my eye


Young fallow bucks crossing Margaret’s field

and have me running for my camera.  Whether it is raining or not, it is a wonder that I ever find time to do gardening.

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