When my father came home from work to see that my mother had spent some time wrestling with the hedge he would say regretfully, “Ah, the hedge hating peasantry”. A wonder she didn’t hit him. I have inherited her hedge clippers and did some damage to the hedge myself today. I also cut the wire on the extension lead. Sigh. It tripped the relevant trip switch and obviously the extension lead no longer works but otherwise, mercifully, no harm done. I can’t help wondering whether more modern models might be a bit safer.
The extension lead was not my only victim. My agapanthus has only put up two flowers this year (still buds at this point). One of them was knocked off by a careless family member some weeks ago, the culprit has still not been identified. While I was wielding my clippers of death today, Michael was cutting the grass. When I paused in my labours he said laconically, “You’ve cut your flower.” No agapanthus this year then.
Lest you think Daniel was idle while Michael was mowing, fear not, he was on “pick up the clippings” duty. Herself cut me to the quick (cutting appears to be the theme of today’s piece) by saying recently that one task just conceals another so the reward for completing one task is getting another. This is, sadly, true. So, I sent the boys upstairs to sort out the schoolbooks they no longer want. No sign of this task actually being completed so I can keep it in reserve for emergencies, I guess.
An old friend of mine – a great gardener – once said that every garden has at least one thug. My garden has several but I was resigned to this until I saw something growing like crazy. I became convinced it was Japanese knotweed. I was filled with gloom and despair until Mr. Waffle made me do a google image search and it turns out to be Alpine Enchanter’s Nightshade. Welcome, welcome to your new home remarkably hardy and charmingly named Alpine Enchanter’s Nightshade. No haters please.
Plum season has begun. Shortly we will be in intensive jam production phase.
Until I was 12 or so my family lived in a very big house that came with my father’s job (I have covered elsewhere the trauma of moving from this to a semi-detached Edwardian number). The garden was big. We had a big lawn with a dozen apple trees and a large vegetable garden. There was a gardener who came very regularly but maybe not every day. His name was Michael Lyons and he was genuinely one of the kindest people I have ever met. He worked really hard, I remember him bending down to weed – from the waist, like a tent – and never having a bad word to say to us children as we ran in and out through the potato plants. In retrospect that cannot have been good for them but I remember them being large and providing excellent cover in hide and seek. He came in at lunch time and Cissie (who lived in and minded us and cleaned and tidied and whom we loved – when we moved out, my sister who was small used to say, “I’m going back to my own Cissie” when the rest of us annoyed her, i.e. frequently) made him two perfectly round poached eggs which I was transfixed by. He was unmarried and, naturally, he had a little Jack Russell dog. He was always very quiet and gentle. We used to visit him at home around Christmas and he always seemed pleased to see us – a niggle, was he really? My mother loved sweet peas and he grew masses of them on a fence for her. This year, for the first time, I have grown my own batch of sweet peas. I thought they would remind me of my mother. And they do, of course, but every time I pass them and smell their beautiful summery scent, I think of Michael Lyons.