21 February 2013
“Do you want to help me in the garden, Flat Kathy?” asked Reggie, as she opened the boot of her car, having just returned from a nearby plant nursery. “I’ve bought a couple of plants that I need to put into pots.”
I had been sitting on the bench next to the pool with Gilbert the Gnome, enjoying a mid-morning tea with a couple of my Lemony Biscuits (there aren’t many left of those, incidentally – I don’t rightly know how it happened, but there’s only two heart-shaped biscuits and a handful of crumbs left! We’ll have to bake some more biscuits sometime!).
“Certainly,” I said, eagerly. “Gilbert, will you please excuse me? I need to make myself useful.”
“Ja ja, kein problehm,” he said, in his funny, slightly awkward German accent, as he trudged off to unroll the hosepipe. “I musst go and vater ze lemon trees. Zey are zursty.”
“What did you buy?” I inquired, as Reggie wedged me and an empty cookie jar under one arm, and carried two of the plants to the front garden.
“These two are ‘Gaura belleza dark pink’,” she said, peering at the label, as she carefully put everything down just outside the front door. She trotted off again to fetch a small spade and a black bucket, filled with very dark mulch.
“I’ll put those two into the two small matching pots,” she explained. “This bright red geranium I’ll put in the bigger pot. It’ll look a bit silly at the moment, because the geranium is still quite small, but hopefully it’ll grow bigger, and then it should look quite nice against the white pot.”
She removed all the decorative white pebbles from the pots where they had been stored temporarily. I squealed with fright and almost toppled over, when two little geckos came scrambling out among the pebbles, scuttling past my legs in their quest for a new safe haven.
Reggie giggled. “They’re harmless, Flat Kathy; they won’t hurt you.”
“Well, it’s not your legs they were trying to run up!” I retorted.
“Oh, don’t be such a ninny,” she chided me playfully, standing me up straight again.
Then she shovelled about a third of the soil inside each of the cement pots into the bucket with mulch, mixing it all together. She removed the two gaura and the geranium from the plastic pots, placed them inside the white pots, and carefully added handfuls of the soil-and-mulch mixture all around the plant, pushing it down firmly to make sure there were no big gaps.
“Aren’t you going to put in some of your wonderful compost?” I inquired. I’d learned all about composting during my first week here.
“Unfortunately not, Flat Kathy. I can’t get to the compost at the bottom of the bin, without emptying out a lot of the stuff that hasn’t decomposed yet… But I had put some very good compost and soil into these pots before, so we’ll just make do with what we have right now.”
Once all three plants had been potted, we filled a cheerful red watering can to the brim. We watered each of them thoroughly, waiting for the water to soak in, before adding a little bit more.
Eventually, we stood back and admired our handiwork. “There, that looks good, doesn’t it, Flat Kathy?”
“Yes,” I nodded, contented. Getting our hands and fingernails dirty by working in the ground like that, had felt good too.
And I rather liked knowing that I had helped Reggie to plant something in her garden that would stay here and continue growing, no matter where I was travelling to in the big wide world. In a very little way, it felt like I had put down some roots.