Silas Silage, our learned (and exclusive) gardening columnist is back from a long summer sojourn. But let him explain…
I had a bit of bother earlier in the summer, and decided to lie low for a bit. In fact I was advised to take up secluded employment, and a place was found for me at a home for the elderly mentally challenged in the next county. Not that I’m mentally challenged. As the owner, a very fit and businesslike lady with piercing blue eyes told me, “We have all sorts here, and if you can fix the garden, then you can stay”.
And what a garden! Rolling lawns down to a lilac fringed rowing lake adorned with lilies; avenues of ancient oak and chestnut; close cropped yew hedges, walled kitchen gardens and orchards, and an orangery. A camomile lawn, giving onto an ancient meadow, cut with a ha-ha fence to keep the grazing cattle at bay.
It was the yew hedge that got me going. I’ve always fancied trying my hand at hedge sculpture, or topiary, as it is known. This ancient craft, known to the Phonecians… (Get on with it –Ed).
So, armed with my trusty Banzai Hedgiboshi trimming tool and a ladder, plus a couple of nips of turnip calvados, I set about an unruly set of untrimmed branches with gusto. What better than a nice tall lighthouse to look over the lake, and guide the rowers home to their tea?
With the distant memory of a trip to Portland in my head, I began to fashion that structure out of the verdant branches. With living wood, you have to work with the natural contours and angles as they occur, and I took advantage of this to give my lovely tall lighthouse two nice large round rocks, one each side, which to my way of thinking finished it off very nicely with perfect symmetry.
I was working away and I didn’t realise I had attracted quite a crowd, who seemed very appreciative of my efforts, particularly the ladies, who were all pointing excitedly at it, nudging each other, and giving little exclamations. Some of the male residents too, showed quite an interest.
Just then men in white tunics came down and shooed them all inside with little electric prodders, which I thought was rather unnecessary. “Bath time”, explained one of them, adding “The Boss would like a word….now!”
He rather brusquely ushered me into her office. To my surprise, my bag was on her desk, packed. She said some very hurtful things and accused me of all sorts, and before I could begin to assert my innocence, I was outside, trudging up the long drive to the main road and the bus home. Looking behind me, I saw white coated figures cutting down my beautiful lighthouse.
People are strange, and it will be good to be home again with normal folk.
(To be continued –Ed)
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Think we made this up? See the BBC video on yew hedge trimming at Montacute House