Taking the sting out of the garden

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We have been working hard to get rid of the chaotic weed heap in the centre of the yard. Sounds so simple, huh?

I’ve transplanted the 489 spontaneous tomato plants hidden among the thistles, nettles, rampant nasturtium and all manner of clover, dandelion, fire weed and nightshade. Mr D has constructed the first of three compost bays and I have shovelled a mountain and a half of grass clippings…

But all this takes inordinate lengths of time because of one little apprentice determined to help and another little apprentice determined to be carried AT ALL TIMES! The upshot: I work with a baby strapped to the back until we are both too hot and sweaty to breathe and Little Lion sets the pace – think snail.

So a few weeks ago, we were all out back pottering away at our various tasks, LL shouting from time to time for Mummy to “look! bug!” or “dig! hole!” or “my! bucket!”, Blossom casually sucking on an Ergo strap. Naturally, LL gravitated toward the centre of our activity and wanted to pull out some weeds too. At this point, daddy felt it was time for a lesson:

“Look. This is Stinging Nettle. Don’t touch. It will hurt you. Ouch!”

Little Lion crouched beside his father, hands on knees, nodding as he listened with his grave little face contemplating what daddy said. “Ting Net. Ouch,” he said, pointing.

“That’s right. Don’t touch. It’s ouch.”

A gleam sparked in LL’s eye. He reached out his hand and looked to his father to check his reaction. Mr D’s eyes widened in warning, “No, don’t touch. Stinging Nettle will hurt you…”

The Lion giggled. This was a great game.

“No…”

And he did. Grabbed a hand full. Mouth shot open. Horrified eyes searched for the garden for his mother – how could Daddy have betrayed him so? And he screamed…

I did what any mother would do – knelt to the ground and stretched my arms wide ready to receive my distressed boy. And he did what any distressed boy would do – ran for the comforting arms of his mother.

Only trouble was the enormous patch of Singing Nettle between him and me. That’s right, the patch that he (for some incomprehensible reason) did not swerve wildly and carefully tip-toe around to avoid. He ran straight through the thick of it. Right up to his bare little waist with his bare little legs brushing against those leaves of fire time and time and time again.

His face said it all – “Mum and Dad are in cahoots and they’ve got it in for me.”

The welts eventually faded, but the emotional scars remain. All you have to do is say “Singing Nettle” and you can see the grey clouds shadow his face. “Ouch,” he will solemnly reply without so much as a glance in your direction.  And that damned weed patch has lived to fight another day… week… ok, month or two.

We’ll get it one day.

We really will.

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