Sunday, February 22, 2009

A fern decision

We inherited five large ferns when we moved here. One in the border between us and next door, one in the bed at the end of the deck, and three beside the ugly, useless, cement-asbestos garage that lives at the bottom of the garden.

Very healthy ferns they are too. They clearly love their respective locations and burst forth each spring with lush greenness. Unfortunately they also die back every winter with dirty brownness, and in the intervening months they constantly seek to trip up the unwary gardener, hinder the mowing of grass, and deposit spiky ferny balls onto the clothes of anyone who walks by.

And ultimately, they're just... well... green. They don't do anything. Flower, or bud, or turn a nice colour. So we decided we wanted rid. It was a daunting prospect. When I said "large" I really meant "f*cking enormous" - some of them are almost big enough to fill the green garden recycling wheelie bin on their own. So it's been a slow process digging them up. I started a couple of weeks ago on the one nearest the house, and that was a pig to get out. The one under the tree wasn't so bad. Drier under there, see? Thereby hitting it with a fernish double-whammy of not being able to grow as large, and not having clumpy wet soil to hang onto. The friable, powdery soil released its burden much more readily.

Since those early successes we've been waiting for a combination of dry and frost-free weather, which finally arrived this weekend. My task - to remove the final three by the garage and thereby finish the job - took both days. At a relaxed pace, admittedly, but that's the only pace I've got these days. With the experience of the other two ferns under my belt, I had a radically improved technique. Nibbling bits off the edge with the garden fork until the buggers capitulated. The first one went into the bin; the other two were piled beside the woodshed awaiting the next garden recycling day.

So this is how the garden looks now. A bloody mess, I think you'll agree, but at least the grass will be free to grow up to the garage now (until we knock it down) and cover the brown/black scars left by the ferns. Think of it like removing a wart. And this season my grass-cutting will be trip- and spiky-ball-free. Yippee.

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