Monday, 4 January 2016

The rotten ring.

It was a hot midsummers day and I was at one of my more random regular gardens and this was certainly turning out to be another regular random day there. It was a small narrow terraced city garden, planting down each side and a long patio through the middle and I was struck by the scent of death as soon as the front door opened; the smell only got stronger the further I went through the house. The lady living there at the time seemed to be unaware of the stench filled air but she did mention in passing that there seemed to be more flies than usual in the garden.

Stepping out into the garden I disturbed a cloud and I mean cloud of flies. The ground and air thronged with large black buzzing bodies and all around the edge of the patio grew a thick dense mass of fungal strands. A huge hairy rotting ring of bird seed. The woman who lived there had a thing for feeding the birds and went out daily to refill the feeders, if there was any feed left in them she simply tipped the seed on the ground for the birds as well. In a garden no bigger than 300ft square she had about 10 large feeders, that's a lot of excess seed to pour away especially in a city garden with limited bird life.

For two weeks during a typical British summer (a mix of rain and hot sun) she had dutifully feed the birds and ground, it didn't take long for the damp warm ground to become a fungus feeding ground rich in nutrients and spores. For five hours I cleared a two inch thick and three inch wide layer of rotting sinking bird food from a hot narrow garden whilst trying to explain to client why she might have been slightly over doing it on the supporting wildlife front.

There's a balance to every job and this certainly balanced out all the idyllic days of garden work.