In which everyone needs a drink

Graham Paskett, founder of Paskett PR, loves gardening so much that he has made it his life’s work. But all work and no play make a very grumpy PR practitioner. So, this is his chance to let off some creative steam and share his wealth of knowledge.

I’m thoroughly fed up with this unremitting hot weather.  Mrs Grumpy Gardener loves the sun and keeps telling me to come and sit down.  No time.  As soon as the sun is off different areas of the garden, I’m out with the hose and watering can.  The vegetable cage is the most difficult because the planted-out brassicas, beans, leeks, courgettes, squash and spinach beet are all desperate for a long, cool drink once the oven is turned off.   It’s a two-hour job every evening and goodness knows what the cost will be on the water meter.

The herbaceous border is also tricky because most of the plants do like a drink – but not all of them.  And then there is the damage caused by the trailing hose.  My silent curses plumb new depths with the performance of the water snake.  Not only does it damage plants, but it also kinks and stops the flow of water.  I stomp off down the line of the hose to find the cause only to realise, once I have been drenched, that I didn’t turn it off first!

The real exceptions to my watery grumpiness are my urns, containers and hanging baskets.   I derive a great deal of enjoyment from them – apart from the Sherpa Tensing slugs that crawl up at least three feet to feast on the content of the urns.  It’s the order of the boot for those little perishers.  Watering these is quite different from the rest of the garden.  I use a two gallon can without a rose and each Sunday I give them a liquid feed.  We have four stone urns along one South facing low wall plus smaller stone baskets and they all need a prodigious volume of water – every evening in this hot weather.

Then I have to look after my little avian friends.  Mrs GG puts out crumbs and finely diced pieces of fat onto the bird tables each morning and I fill the feeders with fat balls, peanuts, tiny little black seeds the name of which I have totally forgotten and sunflower hearts.   Almost all the birds love the latter and we have a wide range of tits, gold and green finches, nuthatches, sparrows and, of course, robins that love them.  Two chief grumps: firstly, the wretched grey squirrels (tree rats) destroy the feeders on average every four or five weeks and then, the more easily remedied bird mess.

Do any readers of this column have any remedies for solving my squirrel problem?  What I’d really like is a clear Pyrex feeder that the rascals would not be able to dig their teeth into.  Oh for the return of the lovely red Squirrel Nutkins of my childhood.   As for the other problem: every fortnight I take the feeders down around lunch time, when the birds don’t seem to be active, and wash them with a mild solution of weak disinfectant.   Then dry them thoroughly, refill and hang them back up.  At least my garden birds are not grumpy.

Happy Gardening

Graham Paskett


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