COVID-19 Journal: Day 33

Today has been a smasher and it's only 18:33.

I've mostly thrown myself at responding to the single direct suggestion I've had from somebody since this started - apart from STAY HOME: Secure a £100 discount on my rent for removing the Jasmine of Doom from the garden. It's been strangling the bamboo since I got here. A welcome offer.

Yes, I had all the family call, yoga, breakfast, shower and all that. Even put on perfume today. That was before I decided it was St George vs The Jasmine.

Here was my starting position, which you can see in the photo I sent to my landlord as we were figuring it out:

The Shitshow

I don't mean to brag, but when I was volunteering at the Nursery of the San Francisco Botanical Garden, I was asked if I'd like to become Vine Lady. Given that I wanted zero responsibility, and to only go and be told what menial gardening task to do for four hours, I politely declined. But, I do like vines, and the dragon I fought today in the garden was a doozy. She's lived happily undisturbed since I've lived here (since 2014!), but is older than that. She'd climbed the heights of my landlord's bamboo collection (yellow, black and blue), to about 20 feet in the air! My task was clear.

Or was it.

This is the kind of gardening I really like. Defeating botany, one snip at a time. I love cutting vines too. It's a bit like hairdressing, I'm sure. You can't really pull jasmine out of bamboo, because it's FUCKING GOOD at entwinement. It's really cool, actually.

Not fucking around

So, bit by bit, I cut the shit out of it.

Looking good.
Here's where I found the beetroot
(which I also paid for)

I paused for a delicious lunch. Yesterday, as I was chatting with Katherine about ham amongst other things, she gave me the tip to have pickled beetroot with it, and I happened to have a jar I found in a wheelbarrow along a dirt road on one of the Isles of Scilly back in 2016. I opened it and it was still good and I ate the ham and beetroot and warm Turkish bread and cucumber with that hunger you have when you've been working outside.

I also enjoyed organising the piles of mess. I have: a lump of jasmine; some pretty bamboo sticks for Kim to make charcoal; the gnarly cut bits of jasmine vine about 1cm thick and a foot long; sweet ends of bamboo I had to cut down plus all the trimmings from the main trunks; and the big pile of big bamboo spears that my mates who have allotments are coming to take away at some point.

The piles are satisfying. Here's how they grew as the dragon weakened:

I was also excited I invented a tool I could use for both extracting vines from high up in the bamboo and for combing it upwards where the spears had crossed each other. It was a spear of bamboo with all the branches cut off so there were natural barbs to unhook things, if you used it from the ground pushing up. That was really fun! I blasphemed a bit, but with a smile on my face. I did also whip myself in the head amusingly as I was pulling down really hard on a stuck bit. Another first! Yay, pandemic!

Then I stopped for a cup of tea and the third of my stash of eight Tunnocks Caramel Wafers. A good reward.

The cat was like WTF then he was like YASS

And here's what it looks like now! (Though you can't quite see all the giant piles of vine etc that are still there.)


Once I'd removed all semblance of privacy with the garden over that fence, I was able to chat with the girls who live there, and was introduced to the young apple giver from the other day. He and I had a nice chat, and I gave him some straight and wiggly sticks to play with. He likes Thomas the Tank Engine obvs and immediately saw clouds and then water in the wiggly sticks.

Then I talked through the other side of the garden's fence to BNF Chris who doesn't want to be on video calls anymore and was getting a bit of a sun break. He lent me his saw to cut out the bits of bamboo that had burst through what used to be a homemade leaf litter thingy (which I have to tear down tomorrow). Also satisfying, especially as these had formed the central conduits for the dragon to hop from one part of the collection to the other.

Now I'm happily tired and covered in the sorts of nicks and scratches you get when you spend a day gardening. If I can find the dragon's root base tomorrow and can get out a root ball, I'll pop it up on the sidewalk for someone to grab. I bet she'll grow like the clappers now that she's had such a massive haircut.

Oh, and the best part is I have the head in my lounge still attached to its host and I hope it will bloom.