Friday, 26 December 2014

New client

Boxing Day, barely two degrees above zero, and I’m on my hands and knees in the garden, attempting to rescue the edge of the vegetable patch from the clutches of the lawn while the cold ground freezes all sensation from my muddy knee. It’s the perfect antidote to the bustle of Christmas – the noise, the stresses, the motorway driving – it’s wonderful to catch up with the family, but it’s ever so nice to be home again. Not that it’s exactly quiet out here. Once, I had entertained romantic notions of the bleak, hushed stillness of the winter landscape, with nothing but the drip drip of melting icicles to shatter the silence until the first bird of spring. I’m not quite sure how that idea got into my head, particularly when I consider the number of our avian friends that migrate to this part of the UK from the continent in search of a relatively mild winter. Today, the starlings are deafening and, while my gardening activity is pleasingly solitary, I’m not short of company; robins, blackbirds and collared doves all drop in from time to time to check on my progress, while our resident jackdaws wheel around the rooftop and hop about between the chimney stacks, ack-acking all the while.

The other immensely satisfying aspect to this morning’s activity is that I’m gardening in my own garden. This doesn’t happen nearly as much as it should, and it shows. I’m painfully aware that over the past few years, I’ve been carefully honing a whole arsenal of useful skills in gardens belonging to other people, skills which are all too rarely unleashed upon the wilderness outside my own back door.

Well, no more. Enough is enough, a line must be drawn and all that guff. From the new year, I shall be taking on a new client;  a grumpy, capricious and exacting character, as short of temper as indeed of stature, with the mind of a butterfly, the mouth of a sailor and the feet of a hobbit. Me, in other words. I’ve come to realise that the only way I’m going to gain any traction here, in my own garden, is to put it in the diary. To hell with the expense and the inevitable impact upon the rest of the week’s work, I’m convinced it will be worth it, not only for the obvious positive benefits for the garden itself, but also to free my mind of the constant, nagging feeling that there are several (many) things which I really ought to be doing.

So this is the plan, and you, dear reader, may hold me accountable for it. In fact I ask you to do just that and if, in a few months time, the place persists in looking as though a family of hephalumps has been rolling around in it, you have my express permission to berate me strongly, and stick wads of goosegrass down the back of my jumper. After all, I’ll do the same for you.