Saturday, 29 October 2011

Everything happens for a season

It's the heart of Autumn in Bristol. I love autumn and when I felt bold enough to share my feelings on the matter they revolved around how it offered a time to reflect in the calm after the summer growth storm, whilst you bask in the golden hues reflecting on the last of the ripening apples...

So yesterday afternoon my good friend Sarah came over for lunch. On the table were said apples to accompany good soup, bread and cheeses. Sarah is a landscape architect and before lunch had concocted a plan to encourage me to do a spot of pruning. This came about purely by chance having taken her out to help identify one of my shrubs. The shrubs do admittedly need a bit of a trim, their locks flowing uncontrollably in the winds of the south west.

And so we sat down for lunch and lined our stomachs for what I imagined would be gentle afternoon's chopping of unruly stems and wayward branches. My body was recovering from a rather late night too so, y'know, nothing a spot of handiwork in the fresh air couldn't help resolve.

Except before you ever embark on anything with a landscape architect, make sure you read that obscure title of 'The Oxford Landscape Architect's dictionary', no doubt available at all good garden centres? No? Well it bloody well should be. Because if it was then I would have had a chance to discover that the definition of 'pruning' is something along the lines of:

'the act of taking a hacking saw to all 5 trunks of the 12 ft buddleia forcibly detatching it from the rampant Russian vine that has weaved its way through every branch, whilst simultanously ripping the vine, complete with rotting trellis away from the back wall, and then piling it all on the 'lawn' whilst considering how to remove the waste over the next two days carrying it through the flat, the communal hallway and into the car without making any mess whatsoever'

Yes, where the amateur gardener tinkers about at the edges, the pro gets stuck in. Luckily for me Sarah was more than happy to charge in with the saw as we set about dealing with the heart of the problem in my garden - the evil Russian Vine. More on that another time as the point of this post is that by encouraging me to tackle the problem whole heartedly, despite creating more work for me in the garden, Sarah has opened up a whole world of potential and excitement.

Gone is the dark canopy of branches and vines that had put the garden into shadow and sterilised half the growing beds. The solid, if not particularly striking wall at the back provides structure and a chance to draw my eyes to happily through the garden.

In there I'm sure is a lesson for life. If something is taking over, darkening your world and you either ignore it, fear it or play around at the edges trying to keep it in control then what is the best you can hope for? If you're bold, however, then the rewards will be handsome.

Yesterday we were bold and all of a sudden, the winter season is filled with the promise of excitement as I can take time to explore just what to do with all this new found space, light and soil. Just the small matter of clearing the carnage...

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The Hapless Kitchen Gardener

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I only feel hapless because some people make it look easy to grow 10 ft marrows or a banquet of greens whereas my courgettes got nabbed by killer slugs and I only got one raspberry. So tips and stories from people less hapless than I are more than welcome. As a disclaimer though, none of my comments should be taken as expert advice on which you can rely! © Unless stated otherwise, and with the exception of guest content where that guest retains copyright, all photos and posts are the copyright of Tom Carpen and may not be used without permission.