Gardening in my slippers – a cautionary tale

The (now-ex) primulas

Two days ago, early in the morning I was carefully walking along the edge of the pond (precious primulas in full sail to my left, water to my right) in order to haul out some of the mass of oxygenating weed that was threatening to engulf the pump.

I had just wandered outside, having completed the ‘weekly tips’ section of my Telegraph column, in which I  including advice on the need to keep pond weed in check at this time of year.

I was inappropriately wearing slippers (as you do) and yes, I slipped.

I think this is what happened:

My right shin scccccraaaaped down the brick edge of the pond and into the water.  When my slippered foot hit the sludge on the bottom of the pond, it skidded sideways, and as I struggled to recover my balance, I thwacked the inside of my right knee against the edge of the pond, and into the small protruding overflow pipe that sticks out of the brickwork into the water (supplying constant moisture to primula bed).

The result of a split second of stupidity:

My right shin, from ankle bone to knee is totally bruised and grazed –  hot, throbbing and bright scarlet. The entire ankle and calf have swollen to what looks like twice their size.  I have a 5″ diameter dark purple mottled bruise (a haematoma, the nurse called it) on the soft bit on the inside of my knee and a similar large purple patch on the bony bit under my kneecap.

I am now wearing an elastic tubigrip  bandage from the arch of my foot to above my knee. I am on penicillin and heavy duty anti-inflammatory/painkilling drugs and had to have a tetanus jab as a precaution.  I am not supposed to drive till things improve,  and am told to keep my right foot above the level of my heart whenever possible, which ought to be most of the time.  And until the heat and swelling on my leg starts to subside, I should if possible strap an ice pack to it made out of a tea towel and a bag of frozen peas.

I am told it might be some weeks before the swelling goes down and my leg returns to normal, during which time the colour from the healing bruise will gardually drain down to my foot.  Attractive.

Oh yes, and  – just a small additional bit of sadness to the outcome:  quite a lot of the primula stems bit the dust, too.

All this because I slipped – well, actually only one leg of me slipped – into a  small garden pond barely 18″ deep.

Fellow early-morning slipper-wearing pond-lovers, of which I suspect there are legion, consider yourself warned.

For my part, I am tempted to only undertake weed-removal duties in future if wearing full protective gear including flippers and a snorkel, although I consider installing a life belt by the pond a step too far.


8 thoughts on “Gardening in my slippers – a cautionary tale

  1. Oh dear, Helen, you really did a great job of slipping didn’t you! I’m so sorry to hear that your efforts to remove unwanted weeds turned out so badly for you. Look after yourself and get well soon so that you can get back out there … in that sturdy protective gear!

  2. Look after yourself and be content to watch the weeds grow until your injuries are better. Veronica.

  3. Hello Helen – your war wound sounds very painful and a nuisance for you! Hope you’ll be able to move around your garden OK – I will call you to rearrange my visit, having cancelled on the way due to my contretemps with an articulated lorrry on M25. By the way, the driver was a rather nice young Italian! Best Wishes Denise

  4. Hello Helen, Oh dear, unfortunately I have also done similar by standing on rock edge leaning in to weed but luckily no injuries. And yes you guessed it, rock slipped off edge and in I went head first!!! Not pleasant at all, came up spitting fairy weed. I suppose I am one of the few gardeners in the UK who have seen their pond from a fish eye view! To make matters worse I had to wait till my husband heard me calling to help me get out.
    Look forward to seeing you in Henfield in September.
    Margaret H

  5. Helen,

    Were you on the gin again?

    Personally I always blame my gardening footwear (flipflops) too… I know it must have been extremely painful, but your account of it made me larf. You are a truly gifted writer.


  6. My mother in law had a spot of bother with her similar sounding garden pond. She was cleaning weed etc, and her mobile plopped out of her pocket to the bottom of the pond. She duly fished it out…. I imagine rather perilously, and took it to the shop where she had brought it…… with a certain amount of reluctance as it was a safety precaution in case, being a certain age, she should slip over in her garden.

    The assistant looked perplexed by the broken mobile. “Might it have got wet at all? “, he asked politely.

    ” WET” she replied… “Yes very wet indeed, young man. It has been to the bottom of my pond!”

    He obviously was extremely nice ‘young man” as he replaced it without further ado, and the new one lived happily ever after!

    Anyway I hope that you are completely better now Helen. I was one of your garden students in London. What a garden!

  7. Dear Helen,
    Re: Ants. The Chinese have a Chrysanthemum based anti ant solution. It works. So when I get ants I put crumbled up Ch….
    on them and they go away. You came and gave us a lecture last year Tillington. Carla Hansen

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