I expect my customers to gawp at my efforts, humble with gratitude and trembling with amazement. Should they weep hot tears of joy, that would be a bonus. I want to make a difference, to see some evidence of where I’ve been and would be ashamed if a client had to ask me what I had done. I don’t like disrespecting other gardeners; we all have our own methods, capabilities and idiosyncrasies. It can be a tough occupation with cuts, bruises and backache to be expected in performance of the duties. With a little common sense around heights, depths and heavy equipment, limb excision and brain damage are rare hazards.
Epimedium × perralchicum “Frohnleiten” (barrenwort)
My daughter works immensely long hours to afford someone to care for her small patch of heaven. The guy charges £20 to mow a lawn the size of a dessert spoon and can’t tell a beech tree from a bluebell. Initial tepid enthusiasm seems to have waned in the six months he’s been employed and he has to be cajoled into weeding. Grass treatments such as moss killing are greeted with hysteria and he seems to regard pruning as well beyond his remit. The man strikes me as someone who would sell his grandma to the glue factory for a few quid. I was naive when we were invited to Sunday lunch. Suspicion set in when Cineraria asked me to bring loppers, saws and secateurs as part of the dining experience.
Cindy had bullied the odd jobber into tackling a large Buddleia, which had been shaded by a now defunct Leylandii hedge, giving it a peculiar shape. Early spring is the right time of year for the task since a butterfly bush blooms on new growth and judicious cutting results in larger blossom on a neat plant. The shrub had been hacked with hedge trimmers, making it look like a marine given a trim by a blind barber. Where the branches proved too thick for his kit, the dozy bloke had torn them down or left them dangling. He had made such a mess, I wanted to demonstrate the finer points of chainsaw application, preferably on his person. I insisted that my offspring deal with the most sturdy trunks; she’s young, strong and having an axe to grind, she sawed like a woman possessed. I wielded the loppers and between us we reduced the bush to stumps, making our incisions above two sets of leaves. Thus a late frost may take the uppermost foliage but the lower growth will still sprout.
Larix decidua (Larch) spring foliage
Cin’s partner, Leo took to a corner to chop the off cuts into smaller chunks to fit the recycling bin. Despite not being interested in horticulture, he never uttered a sound of protest or hint of complaint as he hewed his way through many bushels of branches. I suspect that he recognised the dangerous look of determination in my darling’s eye and decided that he wanted to live. I don’t hold out much hope for her gardener’s chances of survival.