Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Yes, it doesn’t become o-fficial for another eleven days, but the lowering temperature trend, the heavy dews, and the preliminary scatter of dead leaves on the Port Swiller Manor driveway all signal that the “season of mists and mellow fruitfulness” is at hand.

Huzzay, huzzah!

As he resolved to do some time ago, Ol’ Robbo will be whacking back the forsythia in his garden this morning. Some of the stalks are better than ten feet tall now – I propose to raze the whole hedge back to about four feet. That’ll leave it a couple more months to put on some new growth. If it’s going to flower feebly in the spring, I’d much rather it did so compactly rayther than gangly. And as to the flowering, I’m going to start liming it and see if anything happens.

Indeed, speaking of which, my other task today is to put down the first of three fall lime coatings on the lawn. East of the Blue Ridge here in the Great Commonwealth of Virginny, the soil is wicked acidic, and as Ol’ Robbo is finally beginning to appreciate, this has consequences. I had my lawn service lime the yard last fall with admittedly notable results, but as I looked at the sign-up form this year I thought to myself, “Self, why can’t you do that? It’d certainly be cheaper.” So here we are. (Don’t tell my service, but I’m also beginning to think that I can do the weed and feed myself, too, and maybe even more effectively.)

Oh, and to finish, a small note which I am sure will amuse friends of the decanter. Ol’ Robbo noticed recently that his appallingly expensive and heretofore largely useless generator was not cooking off on its usual Saturday morning five-minute test run. When I lifted the lid yesterday to investigate, I found that the thing had, indeed, shut itself off. The computer display was flashing, “Overcrank warning”.

My immediate thought was, “Say, I resemble that remark!”

Post-Jungle Excursion UPDATE: Done and done. I had to hack a path through the butterfly bush just to get at the forsythia in the first place. Kept expecting Johnny Weissmuller to suddenly tap me on the shoulder and say, “How Tarzan help you?” We’ll see if this actually does any good. In any event, I didn’t cut them back after they flowered this spring like I should have, and I certainly couldn’t leave them elongated over the winter.

Since I was venturing deep into tiger country and had no idea what beasties might be lurking under the flora, I donned my LL Bean boots. Ol’ Robbo has had the same pair for forty years now. They’ve held up splendidly all this time not because I don’t use them (I do), but because they’re just that well made.

As for the yard, $60 worth of lime and 20 minutes of my time pushing around the spreader versus better than a hundred bucks’ charge by my service. Contrary to what Barbie once said, math isn’t really all that hard sometimes. As noted above, I’ll do two more treatments this fall.

By the bye, Ol’ Robbo can hear the collective voice of all you friends of the decanter saying, “Tom, weren’t you planning to start putting some raised beds in your garden this fall?” Yeah, that’s not going to happen, at least not this year. As regular readers will know, Port Swiller Manor itself has decided to go into one of its periodic fits of “Money Pit” mode and Ol’ Robbo feels compelled to shelve some of his other projects for another day.