This weekend, I decided that now was the time for a very late (by 2 months) Chelsea Chop.  As you may be aware, Anya loves to grab a piece of plant material and race off with it.  This was therefore a possible recipe for her to have great fun.  However, I have been working on the problem with her and I seem to have made a major break through.

So, how have I done this?  By introducing Anya to my new favourite gardening tool – a trug.  Many of you may well use these anyway to carry removed plant material to your compost bin or otherwise dispose of it.  I certainly had, but I had never through of it as a way of stopping Anya from playing the unwanted game of stealing plant material.

You may be aware of the concept of “Owning your Garden“.  The trug just helps me concentrate this principle into a very focused location.  I started by putting a few twigs at the bottom of the trug.  When Anya showed interest in them, I used the Ouch command.  When she moved away from the trug, I rewarded her with a treat.  Once Anya showed that she had started to understand that the trug was mine, I put more plant material in the trug and repeated the same exercise.


We  have now reached the stage where I can have long branches sticking out of the trug and Anya understands that anything in the trug is mine and she won’t steal them.  This picture is not staged.  She was not put in a sit stay beside the trug.  I just happened to notice her sitting by the trug taking absolutely no interest in its contents.

So we seem to have found a method by which I can have Anya out in the garden and do large amounts of tidying.  Make no mistake, if I put even the smallest amount of plant material on the ground, it would immediately be picked up and paraded around the garden as a trophy.  However, she seems to understand that if something is in the trug it is MINE!

Well, having gone virtually straight from Winter to Summer, we are certainly having one of those memorable seasons!  It isn’t very often that the UK has an extended period of time in the high 20°s C.  Usually we think we are lucky to have a week of temperatures in the 20°s.  So far, we have had 10 days of this sort of weather and it looks set to continue for at least another week.

Luckily, there has been so much rain over the last year that the majority of the plants are still looking great and, apart from the pots, I have not had to resort to watering until the last few days.  However, a few plants in different areas of the garden are not starting to look stressed and so have been doused.  The funny thing is that the plants that I normally expect to complain about lack of water as yet are looking fine.  In order to save water, I am concentrating my efforts only on the plants that look to be in need of water.

Roses and aquilegias 2013

In a previous post, I mused at to whether we might have roses and aquilegias out at the same time this year as I had previously seen in Canada – well we did.  Admittedly, a few of the aqualegias had gone over, but I like to leave the seed heads in place to get even more plants in future years.

The dogs are, of course, moulting for England to try and keep cool.  Ice cubes in their water bowls help and on walks, they race for every remaining puddle.  At home, they put up with showers from the garden hose, but at least none has, so far, decided to take a dip in the pond!

Enjoy the weather while it lasts – this is England, so it won’t be long before we are back to cloudy skies and showers!

Whilst it is fairly easy to keep our own garden under control, many of us have neighbours who may not be as interested in gardening as we are.  This can lead to unwanted plants making their way across the boundary.  Some plants are ornamental even if they are unwanted, like the ivy that has come through from next door.

Look carefully and you can see bindweed in the Kilmarnock Willow

Look carefully and you can see bindweed twining through the Kilmarnock Willow

However, over the last few years, the ivy has been joined by that most pernicious of weeds – field bindweed (Convolvulus arvensis).  Unlike the more garden worthy morning glories, bindweed can quickly take over a garden and so has to be dealt with whenever you see it.  It twines itself around existing plants and is a real pain.  The best way to get rid of it is to dig and dig and dig – its roots can go down 5 meters and every little bit of root that is left in the ground can turn into a new plant!  Digging isn’t an option for me at the moment, I want to keep the border in tact.  So, I just pull out every bit I see and put it straight into the council’s green waste bags.  I make sure that not even a single leaf is dropped on the ground or in contact with any of my gardening tools, such as my weeding trug.  Not a single piece of this plant is going to have a hope of regrowth in my garden!

I have to be especially careful if the dogs are out in the garden with me when I pull bindweed.  Anya still thinks that plants are a very exciting toy when they are in my hands, so she is learning fast that they are mine and I will not let her grab them from me!

I hope you never have to cope with bindweed, it is a never ending battle, but one that has to be fought.