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The Rake and I
Member Name: garlicpress
Date: 28/03/02, updated on 28/03/02 (388 review reads)
Advantages: Your neighbours are SO jealous for ten days a year
Disadvantages: ... but not for the rest of the time
More trouble than it's worth?
It's spring and BBC Prime, the only English language TV station we get here in Heidi country, is providing yet another re-run of a Gardener's World series. And watching that, I cannot fail to observe a strange phenomenon.
Whenever I see the pictures of this glorious, raindrenched English garden, I tilt forward from the hip ever so slightly, my hands shoot forward and grab an invisible elongated round 'thing' and repeatedly pull it sharply in the general direction of my sternum (as per the teachings of Marcel Marceaux, Mime, Paris).
This rather unusual behaviour is easily explained by the fact that there is a huge Magnolia tree in our front garden, thanks to which my garden rake and I have a very intimate relationship, that is renewed almost daily.
Hardly has the last snow melted, and Mrs Garlicpress can be found in the garden, clutching her rake and pulling toghether little heaps of brown, hairy blossom hulls, which are later deposited in the compost. Of these brown, hairy blossom hulls there is an abundance, each day from early March until mid-April.
Shortly afterwards, i.e. from about end of April through to mid-May, there's about 15 kg of blossom leaves to be gotten rid of each day. If I fail to rake them up within the first ten minutes of ground contact, they turn into a slimy brown mud which sticks to the lawn and very effectively kills it off immediately.
From the end of May onward, my faithful rake starts gathering up the small, hard fruit of the Magnolia that look a lot like deformed mini pine cones. These will easily last for years in the compost heap without showing any signs of decomposition. The fruit is very easily ground into the soil, where the development of the newly sown lawn is very efficiently prevented. If I happen to crush one of these pine cone shaped thingies (and I do) on the path, an interesting rust-colored spot will appear, s
o I have this interesting pattern forming, that probably will outlive the path.
In the meantime, there are enough leaves on the Magnolia to ensure that absolutely no sunlight whatsoever manages to reach the soil. This in turn guarantees the development and lasting existence of a dense cover of moss in the so called lawn underneath. And back in action is the rake, with Mrs G. trying to get rid of selfsame moss. This is of course completely futile, as the moss is here to stay.
And soon autumn arrives in our garden and shakes all the dish-towel sized leaves out of the tree. This is a high time for Garlicpress and the Rake. Several times a day we bravely venture forth and build big leaf heaps in the garden; and would you know it, just before I'm gathering them up, an uppity, happy breeze blows them back all over the place.
But now it's time for Father Frost to reign the world and the rake stays in the shed. It's the time of the snow shovel, which creates some variety to Garlicpress' fitness regime - away from as oposed to towards the sternum - and a whole new set of muscle aches. This for once is not the Magnolia's fault, but we're already closing the circle of the rake and spring is back!
You may now wonder why, oh why I am such a masochist, bringing this horrible torture upon myself year after year. Well then I would love to invite you to come and sit next to me now! Just outside my window, there's my Magnolia which turns, for ten short days in April, into the biggest flower bouquet in the world. The sight of thousands of white-pink blossoms shining against a clear blue sky, that's worth all of the work and more!
And for those, who are as sentimental as myself and consider planting one of these things, here's some information:
Magnolia are quite hardy and don't require much. A sunny or semi-shaded corner, that is sheltered from strong winds and some rich, loose soil will pret
ty much keep it happy.
The roots of the Magnolia spread out close to the surface, so it likes for the soil around it's trunk to be left alone. As a rule of the thumb, the roots will spread out about as far as the crown.
There are quite a few different types of Magnolia, not all of the growing quite as fast and tall as our Magnolia kobus, that can (and will) grow up to 10 m tall. For smaller gardens, other varieties such as the Star Magnolia with beautiful snow white blossoms or the Magnolia liliiflora 'Nigra' with it's dark purple flowers are recommended.
Some good information about the available varieties can be found on:
http://www.gardenersworld.beeb.com/servlet/Sea rchServlet?event=18&searchString =magnolia
Well, I hope you've enjoyed my little walk in the garden and if you ever come to Zurich, just look out for the woman with the rake and - hey presto - you've found the garlicpress.
And now, to say it with Alan: Whatever the weather this weekend, enjoy your garden