Saturday, February 6, 2010

Bog standard

I was having an email conversation with Kate, the Manic Gardener, the other day about compost, when I mentioned the phrase "bog standard". I then had to explain to Kate what bog standard meant.
Poor Kate, she gets a bit fed up with all this unintelligible British slang. (If you haven't done so already, please do visit her blog for a very amusing account of the "sock wars", a transatlantic conflict ignited inadvertently by James A-S who happened to mention something in his garden that was "flowering its socks off".)
For anyone else who is unfamiliar with the phrase, bog-standard means ordinary, in the sense of being a bit uninspired or lacking in flair. It also pretty much describes my lawn at this time of the year, when it becomes a sodden mess.
I know it's unfashionable, but I quite like lawns. I like having an expanse of plain green on which to rest the eye. I like the fact that birds like it. (What would happen to blackbirds and robins if we all paved over our lawns?) At this time of year, however, my thoughts turn longingly to gravel or paving.
I don't water my lawn, neither do I use weedkiller or fertiliser. I rely on the moss to green it up. I weed large-leaved weeds such as plantains and dandelions by hand - a very satisfying job, especially if it has been a stressful week at work. Indeed, I was once talking to a very grand theatrical agent at the Evening Standard film awards and he told me he pretended the weeds in his lawn were his most tiresome clients. "Take that, Ms Oscar-winning name," and "Gotcha, Mr Oscar-winning name," he would cry as he prized out some reluctant tap-root. I won't tell you who the actors really were - but they are very, very famous.
However, I do use a top dressing in autumn, which is a back-breaking, blister-making process, and I spike the lawn too (also a back-breaking, blister-making process). When a trip to fill up the birdfeeders means that every step is a wince-making squelch, I wonder whether it's all worth it.