No – not the latest movie from the Richard Curtis stable. This is effectively a summary of my Bank Holiday Monday.
We had been planning quite a lot of work in the garden this spring in order to continue the process of transforming the featureless square box that was the garden when we moved in, into something a bit more interesting. Lockdown had temporarily brought a halt to planning and gardening, but with garden centres now back open, we decided to see whether we could get things back on track. We are fortunate to have a small independent garden centre within 20 minutes walk of the house, and so we did a little recce yesterday afternoon to see how busy it might be, and how easy it would be to make our purchases without breaching social distancing. Thankfully, it was quite quiet and all the stock was outside, further reducing the risk. Satisfied that risk was low, we returned this morning (early) and completed the purchase of two trees, four established herbaceous shrubs and a couple of bush tomato plants.
And so began a long day of toil, sweat and quiet cursing. The problem with having purchased a new build is that the ‘soil’ that comes in the garden is only about 40% organic matter. I have removed house bricks, lumps of concrete, enough nails, screws and bolts to start a hardware store, and even what looks like a metal cover plate for an inspection chamber. At one stage, I had to dispense with my spade and resort to a hammer and bolster to break through the layer of concrete that was conveniently buried 5 inches below the surface of the front garden. I just want to acknowledge the help that I received from the Prime Minister and his Senior Adviser with this. Never has a bolster been struck with such venom and purpose!
Having said all that, the plants are now all in the ground, firmed in and very well watered. And they look great and have already changed the look and feel of the space to the front and rear of the house. The trees in particular bring some height to the garden, break up an otherwise blank run of fence, and (in time) will provide some additional privacy (as well as some scrummy cherries and pears).
I really enjoy gardening. It is one of the very few things that I do where I can stand back once it’s finished and actually see what I have achieved. In the case of the trees and shrubs today, it was doubly satisfying because the purchases have been made with money saved from not having to travel back and forth to work during the lockdown restrictions. This is an environmental ‘double-whammy’ – no emissions from the travelling, AND new trees planted that will further improve the suburban environment around the house.
We still have a few more things to purchase and plant to finish off the vision, but progress is very definitely being made!