Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Now you see it, now you don't

I've never been a great one for garden gadgets. I'm not crazy about the idea of using electrical power unnecessarily, when a bit of elbow grease would do the job just as well. I once tried out a friend's leaf-blower and I swear my arm vibrated for about three days afterwards. But if you think this attitude a tad puritanical in today's labour-saving age, you'll be delighted to hear that I have succumbed to the lure of the pressure washer.
I haven't bought one, just borrowed one. The paving outside had got to the stage where I risked breaking my leg every time I ventured out. A combination of long winters and wet summers, combined with bird food and the avian digestive products arising from it, had turned the terrace into something resembling a dark-green ice rink. So a friend very kindly lent me their Karcher washer.
What a revelation! You can see the difference in the picture below - the dark areas are where I have yet to clean. Apparently you can use detergent in the washer, but I drew the line at that, which meant that I was left with a kind of green acne which required a lot of scrubbing.
I did ask myself whether I felt a bit guilty using all that water. Nope, I replied. Not after a winter like this one.
I have scrubbed the patio before using a stiff broom and a hose, but it was nothing like as effective and 10 times as much work. Mind you, even using a pressure washer was hard work. Really hard work. (Just in case you thought I was taking the easy way out.)

Here we are (below), all wet and clean. (Meanwhile, I am all wet and dirty...)

Ta-dah! The finished result (below). I don't think it's looked so clean since the day it was laid.

Ironically, I really like the lichen-encrusted, mossy look, with plants growing in between the paving slabs. It looks great in a country garden, or on York stone. I just don't think it works very well on the sort of plain concrete slabs that I have.
I also think that when you have a jungly garden, a plain area, such as the lawn or the terrace, acts as a visual breathing space that throws into contrast the leafy mayhem around it. So will I be using the pressure washer again? As Lauren Bacall once reputedly said to the Shah of Iran: "You bet your ass."

PS: Could I please apologise to everyone for not commenting on your comments or on your blogs? I love reading them and I think it's only good manners to reply if someone has taken the trouble to say something. However, something odd has happened to my life recently - there seems to be hardly any of it. (I'm writing this when I should really be doing something else.) Finding time to keep pace with the garden is a struggle, let alone writing about it.
However, I wanted to say how much I appreciate your input and encouragement. Thanks, everybody.