Connoisseurs of soft and fragrant soil additives may appreciate my response to my special mix (used to plant some new roses) being described as horses***. Well yes, as the horses will be happy to confirm, but in this image-conscious world:
“It would be fairer to acknowledge the components as having been custom-modified by an Arabian beauty and a swarthy swift-footed hunk from the Eurasian steppes: think jasmine-scented Arabian nights and long strong hair blowing in the rushing wind.” Switch to slow-motion, low-angle panoramic cinematic vistas and dramatic tinted skies, as per the usual life-style adverts. I might add that the horse-modified hay, mixed with soiled barn bedding, has been matured in a special sylvian glade and immersed in the music of the trees, but that would be getting carried away, a bit.
OK, enough of the excessive hyperbole: Soil is not just inert dirt, and with our local free-draining and young soils, adding organic matter (whatever you call it) is not just about nutrients and root/microbe relationships, but water retention as well. Wood ash is something I use a lot too, but not on acid-loving plants like Rhododendrons. And that horses*** must be composted properly, at which point it is no longer wet dung but loose and friable brown gold.