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The eggs are broken but where’s the omelette?

Alison Stewart

Alison Stewart

November 21, 2011

Feeling a bit down today. I’m over at Sherbrooke, taking advantage of a rare break in the relentlessly rainy weather forecast. Progress on the garden seems like one step forward and about three backwards. Jim D reports that Hamish McD and his crew have done two days’ work since I was last here. They’ve done quite a nice job of making a mini dry-stone wall to retain and edge the upper lawn on the east side and they’ve removed the remains of the Gunnera at the top of the garden that was bulldozed by the drainage contractor.
(Is Gunnera wonderful or ghastly? I can never quite make up my mind. Anything grown by the sainted Beth Chatto should get the thumbs up I guess, and it is amazingly exciting in the spring when its new shoots push up from the ground and open to great palm-shaped umbrellas, but there’s something really gruesome about it when it’s dying down for the winter, like the plant kingdom’s version of an elephant in its death throes.)

Charming view

Anyway, apart from the grubbed-up Gunnera and the new little bit of wall, it’s all a bit depressing. They’ve cut down most of the Rhododendron ponticum that I wanted to get rid of, but that’s the easy bit. The stumps are still there and the debris is all over the place. So is the rubble they dug out when they did the new bit of drainage at the top of the upper east lawn. I suppose it’s more cost-effective to get rid of all the rubbish in one go, at the end, but it’s a bit hard to live with in the meantime.

Bye bye rhodies

Worse, though, they’ve also cut down some rhodies that I didn’t want to get rid of. They were forming a camouflaging screen in front of a huge old tree stump, which is now revealed in all its hideousness, in full view as you come in the front gate and up the drive. Head honcho Hamish says that head workman Dougie must have “had a rush of blood to the head” and got carried away. Hmmm.

Just another example, I suppose, of the impossibility of getting anything done right if you can’t be there to supervise every move. Hamish says they will plant something fast growing in front of the old tree trunk so that it will be concealed as soon as possible but I think that probably the best thing to do is to leave the rhodie stumps there and, for once, take advantage of Rhododendron ponticum’s ability to rise, phoenix-like, from the ashes.

Did they really think this looked better?

But whatever we do it’s going to look at bit sad for at least a few years. And I want results now!! I know I said, in an earlier posting, that gardening is an evolutionary rather than a revolutionary process. But just at the moment I want revolution. I’ve had four years now of things looking worse before they look better and I really can’t stand much more of it.
Deep breath. Remember what Morag said: when it’s all too much and you feel as if you’re under the wheels of the juggernaut, just turn round and look out – out across the water to the islands, the sea birds, the boats and the sky.