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Bad back blues

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Pond
Autumnal colours around the pond - but clear overhanging leaves

Dreaded curse of sciatica strikes

I hope nobody’s noticed, but I haven’t filed a ‘My Garden’ blog in a while, which is unlike me. No, it’s not laziness, but a worsening of the bad back that’s been troubling me since March.

It’s not just the normal tweaked muscles that is part and parcel of life of gardeners of a certain age. This is sciatica, and if you’ve never had it, you’re very, very lucky.

Growbags
Old grow bags dumped by the pond… and I can’t lift them

According to my osteopath (it’s been so bad I’ve parted with cash), a bulging disc is putting pressure on the sciatic nerve, causing pain from my left buttock almost to my ankle.

It’s a wonderful combination of a constant, dull throb interspersed by shooting, searing pain if I dare to move the wrong way, despite painkillers and ice packs. I’ve even had to give up my very gentle ‘yoga for ageing folk with bad backs’, as it’s in too bad a state.

That’s why my big plans for the garden are staying just that. The only significant work that’s been done since September is by the kids, who have done miracles.

Like that episode of The Good Life when they had to get the harvest in, Vanessa has learnt how to trim back geraniums; sort out the other tender potted plants to bring indoors and clear the conservatory of tomatoes.

Nick has been the muscles of the operation, lifting many spent grow bags down the flight of stairs to the garden and the heavy pots under glass.

My plan was to start clearing the badly laid raised bed terrace level and have the plants out by the end of October.

That’s not going to happen – there are strawberries and gooseberries to pot up; foxgloves and Campanula lactifolia to move from a nursery bed; rhubarb and a bunch or perennials to move.

Nick and I did start well, cutting down the ‘apple tree of no hope’ but its 4ft stump remains.

Unfinished bleakness

We also took down the collapsing rose arch and pruned that right back, but the area has a look of unfinished bleakness.

It’s ironic that the overall plan is to remove the squashed-in raised beds and have a taller curving brick bed built, so I don’t strain my back too much!

It will encompass a small seating area, which will double up as an extra overwintering spot for the slightly tender stuff.

Well, there’s the plan… let’s hope it and my back are on the mend soon.

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Mandy Watson is a freelance journalist and an incurable plantaholic. MandyCanUDigIt grew from the tiny seed of a Twitter account into the rainforest of information you see before you. Gardening columnist for the Sunderland Echo, Shields Gazette and Hartlepool Mail and editor of the Teesdale Mercury Magazine. Attracted by anything rebellious, exotic and nerdy, even after all these years. Passionate about northern England and gardens everywhere. Falls over a lot.

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