In My Lady Garden
Time for the Great British Rake-Off
With the leaves beginning to fall faster than a tart’s knickers, it’s time to protect your lawn. So this is how to do the Great British Rake-Off.
1 pint of Adnams Ghost Ship
1 bottle Prosecco, chilled
1 bottle Aspall Cyder
1 lawn rake, light wide variety
Large Portion of jute open-weave leaf sacks or black bin bags pierced all over with a fork
2 packets cheese and onion crisps
2 Krispy Kreme doughnuts (flavour optional)
1 fold up chair
1 teenage relative
1 fifty-pence piece
Tip yourself into the chair and pull open the first crisp packet, setting one aside for later. Stir the teenager into action by greasing its palm with the fifty pence peace and insert the rake into its hand.
Sip drinks and stuff your face with doughnuts as the leaf piles double in size and the teenager reaches boiling point. Get teenager to chill and offer it the other crisps before it piles the sacks into a neat heap, leaving it to mature nicely (the heap that is, not the kid, which will take longer) into lovely leaf mould. The teenager should now be of dropping consistency.
The leaves can be easier picked up using these leaf-grabs, which have more fingers than a Norfolk pickpocket.
Now what if you cannot obtain a teenager? You could splash out on a leaf blower if you want to deafen the neighbours, or a leaf vacuum. And some machines blow and suck, if you are that way inclined. You will find them in the Argos catalogue or the Ann Summers shop.
My next-door neighbour, paunchy Mr Hollywood, has one and swaggers around the garden, making a great deal of noise and waving it around for us all to see. Whereas, elderly Mrs Berry on the other side, who is famous for making cakes for the WI, likes to vacuum her lawn in a more dignified fashion.
Mr Hollywood, who, thank goodness is moving to a new job at Channel 4 with, as he vulgarly says, “more bread, better crumpet and a bigger rise”, flirts with all the villagers with his blue eyes twinkling. He keeps making double entendres as he furtively rearranges his butternut squashes inside his tight jeans.
If your lawn is full of moss and weed, now is the time to gouge them out. It is called scarifying. (Well, it is Halloween!).
Talking of which my pumpkins (Diannius Abbottom) have swollen nicely over the allotment and fortunately my house is already full of cobwebs so no need to buy those pretend ones.
My husband has this awful mask (see above) ready to scare the shite out of any children or sensitive adults who have the temerity to knock on the door while Coronation Street is on.
Do remember, before you let your children go begging for sweets from strangers, that Trick or Treat night can be a terrible ordeal for some, especially that Jonathan Woss, who never speaks of it.
But if you must celebrate the witching hour, remember to eat, drink and be scary.
Halloween is a great time to rip the dead heads off your flowers and Magic away all the dried garden debris. Cut your roses back by a third to stop the. Getting blown to buggery in the winter winds. Give your greenhouse a good scrub and a dousing of disinfectant to prevent any insects overwintering and treating the place like a hotel. It’s also time to get your bulbs in, especially the gorgeous alliums. Gobemaster is a giant stunner with enormous balls, just like Mr Hollywood. Divide your rhubarb crowns to make more plants (i.e. more crumble with custard).
Jobs to do this week
* Dig out your tubers, like dahlias, to store in the dry until Spring.
* Dig out your big knickers or thermal Long Johns ready for the cold snaps ahead. You don’t want your privets to freeze.
* Cut down your runner beans now they are finishing. You can save the beanstalks for the compost… or a Christmas pantomime.
Your problems answered
* Mrs Clinton from New York (my fame is spreading): My goodness, there seem to be horrible pests all over your land. You need to eradicate them once and for all. But one thing you don’t need is a garden handyman!
* Mr Trump from Tuddenham: All tender plants need protecting as the weather gets colder, especially your banana. Either keep it indoors or keep it well covered up.
* Willy from Woodbridge: The orchid you sent me a picture of is genus Dracula, but don’t worry. It won’t bite you in the middle of the night. Yes, I’m sure your girlfriend will love it if you give her one for Halloween. Remember demons are a girl’s best friend.