Today saw the return of our gardener, Dave. The idea is for him to come to us every two weeks to do the big jobs that we find impossible to keep on top of. By the end of the day it was obvious that this is a great idea.
Mirinda waited for him to turn up before heading off for work. We all three wandered the garden so she could point out what needed doing this visit. She was very much the Lady of the Manor. She enjoyed the irony of someone of convict stock having charge of a gardener. Gardener Dave is a lovely guy but I’m not sure that he understood the complexities of the joke.
Anyway, having dispensed her orders, Mirinda headed off into London and Gardener Dave set about opening up the terrace to the sky. I retired to the office and spent the day working on our tax figures for the accountant.
Dave’s biggest job today was the cutting back of the laurel that grows against and over the fence between us and the Crazies. It has grown so big that it blocks out the sky (it can probably be seen from space). It also drops stuff into the water feature on a regular basis which blocks up the fountain. And, in the wind, it rubs against the fence, threatening to push it over.
It took Dave half a day but eventually he’d finished the dreaded laurel. It’s a shame I didn’t take a before photo (he took away about eight big bags of cuttings) but this is what it looked like when he’d finished.
We wanted to retain the height (for privacy) which is why it’s still so tall but now the sun can actually shine on the raised beds. Dave even popped into next door to cut back the one that was rubbing against the fence. I reckon he’s done a brilliant job. It would have taken me about a week.
But no rest for Dave the Gardener! Armed with a cup of coffee, he headed down the back to weed and strip and clear out the area between the gazebo and the lavatera. While not as big a job as the laurel, it was fiddly and he spent a lot of time on his hands and knees disentangling the various bits and pieces of plants. Having found the boundaries of the plot, he then prepared it for planting.
He then went on to possibly the worst job of the day. At the back of the Former Residence of Xun Ma there was growing a mean, angry and ugly looking bramble. The evil tendrils had spread out from beneath my makeshift insect hotel pallets and was threatening to engulf the entire bed. It was a horrid job but Dave went at it, with little regard for his own safety. He was scratched a few times but eventually had it all cleared up and poisoned. Another brilliant job.
He didn’t know if he’d have time but he decided to try and complete all Mirinda’s tasks by digging out the saplings growing behind my office. Again, he did a magnificent job.
By the time he left, I felt like I was working in a completely different garden.
As if that wasn’t enough excitement for one day, there were two Invasive Bird Events (IBE) today.
The first was a sparrow who decided to fly around my office before I’d opened the windows. The poor thing was flapping away like an idiot. I slowly and quietly walked by it and unlatched a window. The sparrow flew out instantly, as if it had been waiting for me.
On the other end of the intelligence scale, the second IBE was a collared dove that flew into the extension. It flapped and crashed and flung feathers everywhere before coming to a crashing halt on the floor by the big back window (which was closed). Emma was intrigued and went over to check out this intruder. To be fair she didn’t touch the bird but it suddenly flew off as if she’d whacked it with her tail.
It ended up on the stained glass window sill where it sat and looked longingly at the stylised version of the Avenue of Trees.
I slowly and carefully went over and opened the back doors, butterfly net in hand. I then went over and coaxed the bird to sit on the edge of the net. Surprisingly it stepped on and, eyes fixed on me, remained steady and determined to trust me.
As soon as I had the net by the open door, the collared dove, without a backward glance or even a hint of thanks, flew off. Ungrateful pigeon!
That was more than enough excitement for one day so, after going for a very late walk, we settled down for a night of quiet relaxation…although I did try the soba noodles again, this time with chicken. I was very happy with my dinner.