A Case of Gardener’s Back!

It has been a disappointment that I haven’t been able to attribute my present condition to some dramatic event; to be able to relate my downward spiral from a treetop where I had been lopping branches or the slip of a ladder as I ridge tile on the roof in a storm. No, it was nothing so dramatic at all, simply a case of leaning down to pick up a bare armful of small pruned branches and that shot of pain in the lower back as I lifted myself up again. It was followed by that general tightening around the stomach, that reaction of the body, almost nauseating, as it tightens itself to prevent any further damage. It was never subsequently as bad as the initial jolt but continued to be painful for several days and is finally leaving me. (Post scriptum: I overstretched this morning and there was a very peculiar click in my back but it lead to no further pain, thankfully!)

Around the garden this morning – click to enlarge and start a slideshow:

I knew there was an old gardening saying about the gardener’s back and I traced it down to Charles Dudley Warner – “What a man needs in gardening is a cast-iron back, with a hinge in it.” Curiousity lead me to find out a little more about Mr. Warner for the search for one quotation lead me to others which still rang true despite the passage of years – his life spanned 1829 – 1900.

Politics makes strange bedfellows.” “Public opinion is stronger than the legislature, and nearly as strong as the ten commandments.”
“Regrets are idle; yet history is one long regret. Everything might have turned out so differently.”

It would seem – for I knew little of him before reading Wikipedia and Brittanica – that he was best known for co-authoring the novel The Gilded Age: A Tale of Today with Mark Twain. However, he was a prolific writer and my attention was caught by one title, My Summer in a Garden. It is available online and I sat back for an enjoyable read only to realise quite quickly that the style of mid-nineteenth century gardening writing really did not appeal immediately to me. It struck me that it was a time of leisure, of idle hours, when the writer expressed himself at a slow pace and the reader had the time to dawdle away long hours when the greatest benefit of the written material was that it passed time. I must admit that it would do so very pleasurably if one were in the mind for such.

Favourite plant of the week, Pinguicula grandiflora, Large-flowered Butterwort. This is a native plant and quite uncommon. This one is a rescue from a building site and is growing in a pot in our garden pond. it is an insectivorous plant which has sticky foliage where the insects become stuck and are then absorbed by the plant.

Mr. Warner was in the main an “essayist”, a writer of shorter pieces such as one might contribute to a newpaper on a weekly basis. Were he writing today I think he might be a blogger and his “My Summer in a Garden” does reads like a collection of weekly essays. The passage of time and the change in tastes have aged his writing style but they are nonetheless not without interest and value today – and, I must comment, a great deal of wit and humour. So, if you wish to pass some time with a blogger of the nineteenth century you will have found a good one in M. Warner.

Now, back to today, to this scribbler and this garden. The weather has been good, very good, and we have spent long days in the garden with the usual bit and pieces – beds were weeded and freshened, grass cut and edged, vegetable seedlings planted out and a few plants were divided and spread about a bit. A large hornbeam tree had to have several limbs taken down as they were reaching the electricity wires and it was better that we take them down ourselves for we will do so carefully, rather than leave them to those who do it for our electricity suppliers. This lead to a large amount of material for shredding and this with the grass added an huge amount of material to the compost bins. It was a busy and good week.

Garden plants this week – Click to enlarge and begin a slideshow:

15 thoughts on “A Case of Gardener’s Back!

  1. Hello Paddy,
    Great to hear your back has clicked and is thankfully on the mend. I concur with the insignificant ways in which such pain can arrive – a simple sneeze set me off once. Quite a feat to put all this out with a back issue! Also thanks for the delving into Warner, who I’d never heard of before and have just checked out, and must return to. Finally what a lovely intense blue of the butterbur flower – never seen it,
    Best wishes
    Julian

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  2. Be careful with your back. I am glad it is improving. What an amazing array of plants. I was dead jealous of the pinguicula and Tulips serengeti until I got to the gallery of delights. Never mind about my back, my legs have gone weak!

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    1. I love to be able to pass comments to other gardeners along the lines of “Do you know what I had to do today? I had to weed those blasted Tulipa sprengeri out of a raised bed. It had become infested with them!” And that was the truth! They self-seed very generously here.

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  3. So sorry to hear about the back. I hope it’s back to normal soon. How careful we have to be! You have a dizzying number of beautiful plants in the garden. What a pleasure it must be to stroll through with the camera!

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  4. My back did the same when I bent sideways to put shopping away in the fridge (leaving the other hand on top of the counter). If you can get down on the floor (or a hard bed) lie on your back and bring your knees slowly to your chest, hold them there with your hands and slowly rock, then lower – rest – repeat five times. See first image here – https://www.emedicinehealth.com/what_are_the_best_exercises_for_back_pain_relief/article_em.htm

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