ON THE SAME PAGE
Let me just say from the outset gardening has never been my strong point.
Sure, I have had moments where I have gone into it full bore, but in the main my efforts have been more "consistent inconsistency" if you know what I mean.
Mrs P usually manages to drag me into the midst of the green-thumb world a couple of times each year – be it to plant some vegetable I won't eat anyway, or plonk a bush in that spot in the corner of the flowerbeds where the last one died - but my enthusiasm for the prolonged nature of the job is on the wane by the time my knees start to grumble about all the low-down weeding.
The only saving grace is George The Dog has "fomo" - fear of missing out – so is usually right in the thick of it with me, digging, scraping and listening to me moan about what a pointless task it is.
The final straw is usually the prickle I get stuck in my hand that requires some swift tweezer action from my beloved, lest my wailing shatters the peace of the neighbourhood.
Luckily, Mrs P prefers what she calls a "cottage garden".
From what I can make out, this is apparently a garden that is left to do its own thing.
There is little or no order to it.
Plants grow anywhere they want. You just chuck them in and its done. Sort of. But it works for me.
If anyone were to come round and raise an eyebrow at a jumbled mass of vegetation at my humble abode I could happily say, and by all accounts come across as quite knowledgeable - "It's a cottage garden design we are working on". Anyway.
Our garden is actually not that bad. I have to say Mrs P gets stuck in on a quite-regular basis while I admire her rear end from my perch, gin in hand, on the deck.
I like to think the reason it's not that bad is because of the irrigation system I installed.
In this regard I believe I have excelled.
It's nothing special you understand. Just some pipe connected to the tap and laid carefully among the bushes so as to be unobtrusive, yet providing sufficient hydration for the wide variety of greenery on display.
The water is delivered via these small, upright bits of plastic that are screwed into the main pipe. It comes out of a mini sprinkler nozzle at the top which, again, is screwed into the long plastic thing. (I think I might need a lie-down after explaining that!).
It is, if I do say so myself, a thing of beauty.
So much so I have become an expert at putting them in and our place is now literally criss-crossed with hidden pipes, nozzles and sprinklers all taking water to the far reaches of the section.
And all supplied with a simple turn of the tap.
In fact, it is possible to sit and stare at Mrs P's bum AND turn the tap on at the same time just to see her get a fright when the water starts spraying out of the sprinkler beside her.
But I digress.
Last week the green-fingered urge hit the household again and it was my job to test the aforementioned irrigation system, which is by now secretly hidden among a carpet of mini-ferns and flowers.
The tap flicked, I sat back to admire my previously described handiwork.
Unfortunately, instead of the gentle hiss of fine misting irrigation nozzles jumping into action I got half a dozen high-pressure fountains shooting water metres into the air. Not what the doctor ordered at all.
Naturally, an investigation was required.
Unfortunately, the only way I could do that was to get as close as I could to the fountain coming through the undergrowth to work out exactly where the problem was in the main pipe.
An hour or so later, drenched to the skin, I deduced the aforementioned upright sprinklers had been unceremoniously wrenched from the main pipe or broken off at the point where they joined.
As Mrs P attempted to warm me up with a cuppa, I explained my discovery.
She disappeared and came back two minutes later with one of the small upright sprinkler pipes, one end chewed through. She had found it out the back the other day, she said.
She put it down on the short table beside me as we discussed the various possibilities as to what had occurred. Rats? Mice? Drunken neighbour? Yeti?
As we talked George The Dog, in almost slow motion, reached up, took the chewed-up sprinkler pipe in his mouth and casually sauntered off.
Gobsmacked, we rushed inside to the other side of the house and watched him quietly from a window as he buried the pipe in a little patch of loose earth next to the rear fence.
I gave him a few minutes to finish the job and cover everything up and then went outside to investigate.
And, as I'm sure you've worked out, there, buried in the hole were three more chewed-up sprinkler pipes.
No rats, mice, drunken neighbour or Yeti.
Just a dog who enjoys gardening a lot more than his owner, obviously.