A river runs through it (well it does now)

My garden is completely under water. Should I try to convert it into a swimming pool?
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The Independent Online

It's autumn again, and time to get the garden tidied up and ready for winter. Yes, November is a busy month in the garden, so here is a round-up of all the things you might need reminding about.

It's autumn again, and time to get the garden tidied up and ready for winter. Yes, November is a busy month in the garden, so here is a round-up of all the things you might need reminding about.

A large tree was blown across my garden yesterday. What is the best way of getting rid of it?

Before you chop it up and cart it away, think very carefully whether you might not be able to make use of it where it lies. Can you convert it into a woodland game for children, for example? Could you carve seats into it so that it makes a nice picnic area? Alternatively, would it make a nice caber? I'm assured by my Scottish friends that a caber does not have to be thrown very far - it is getting it to land upright on the far end that is the difficult bit. Incidentally, have you looked to make sure there is nobody pinioned beneath your fallen tree? It is always embarrassing to disclaim all knowledge of a missing relative and then to find later that you were responsible all along!

What is the best way of preventing trees from being blown down by the autumn gales?

The essential thing is to get rid of all the leaves. Bare trees offer much less resistance to wind and get blown down much less often. The best way to get rid of leaves from a tree is to envelope each tree in a vast black plastic bag and shake the leaves into the bag, which can then easily be taken away and emptied or burnt. Always make sure, of course, that no friends or relatives are climbing your tree when you shake the leaves off, as taking people away in black plastic bags and dumping them is the sort of thing that is bound to attract the attention of the police sooner or later.

I have several valuable statues in my garden. Should I bring them in for the winter?

They should not be in your garden at all. It is increasingly common for burglars to take all kinds of statuary and ornaments from people's gardens and then sell them to antique dealers and collectors. Indeed, I believe they often go round photographing such items in advance so they can show the pictures to prospective customers as a kind of sales catalogue. So if you do have any outdoor statues, take casts of them and put reproductions in your garden. You might as well sell the originals now, as there is no further use for them.

I am convinced that only half the spring bulbs which I plant in the autumn actually come up in the spring. Is there a way of checking how successful your planting has been? Half the time I cannot even remember exactly where I put my bulbs...

One should always put little coloured markers in the ground where one has planted bulbs - purple for crocus, yellow for daffodil and so on. Each flower should have its own coloured stick. Then when the flowers come up you can check them against each stick and then remove it. If your bulbs do not come up, you will still have a delightful display of coloured sticks in the borders and under your trees, which may look to some eyes like modern art, though probably not valuable enough to steal.

Yesterday my garden was a mixture of lawns, flower beds and shrubberies, whereas today it is completely under water, flowing from a nearby river. Should I try to convert this into a water feature, or would it be best to let the river subside and retreat to its former course, or is there any chance of turning it into a swimming pool?

It is often tempting to make use of water providentially flowing across your land, but in the long run it is always a bad idea. A river, after all, does not belong to you in the same way that a pond would, and it also subject to the law of the land. For example, it would be very awkward to incorporate a river in your garden scheme if people then had navigation rights through your property. You would get boatloads of trippers and picnickers coming through, and perhaps even landing on your banks and making loud music with their banjos and ukeleles. The same applies to a swimming pool in a river, if not more so, as the last thing you want is complete strangers splashing around in your garden, throwing inflatable coloured balls at each other.

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