Garden Waste

I mis-timed my awakening. I’d set the alarm for just after seven, because dawn slid into sunrise at 7.47, but when I came out of the bathroom it was 7.54.

Now I know it’s only 7 minutes of lost time but when you are as picky as I am it felt like a massive disappointment. Spare me, we’re facing the loss of a Prime Minister, the highest cost of living in thirty years, and I’m whinging on about a lost 420 seconds.

Still undeterred I put on sox and walking boots, fed the cat, slipped on my puffy gilet over my puffer jacket, grabbed a tissue and set off for a walk round the fields.

Where I live is on a slight incline – in fact our cottage is the second highest point in the area, so I’m told – I walked down past them next door and the others in the lodge and realised that the brown bins were out. Every fortnight the council come and empty the garden waste. We’d forgotten to wheel our bin downhill. So I marched back up the slope to our house, walked into the garden, and set above collecting up all the dead leaves. For one hour I raked and bunched, collected and poured crunchy eucalyptus leaves, little brown oak leaves, wilted ferns and strips of bark into the brown bin. Speedily, because I didn’t know when the brown bin men were coming. And by that I do not mean men of colour – this is the South East of Tunbridge Wells after all – I mean plastic brown bins that are collected by a work force predominantly white and Eastern European although Brexit has put pay to our lovely Czech Republicans.

I had done an hours work out. There are still maverick leaves lying around but I may mow the lawn later now that the ground is not sopping wet.
Now our garden is not massive but it is bigger than a postage stamp. I bought the cottage for the view, one side of the garden looks out over a golf course and undulating fields. I didn’t even look at the blacksmith cottage which is attached to the land. But for thirty eight years the garden has given us fruit, veg, flowers and a brilliant space for legal parties.

We had a succession of gardeners to help out when the old git and I were fully employed. I am not a natural gardener, although I do have emerald fingers, after my mother, who took pips from tomatoes and lemons, pips from oranges and melons and bunged ’em in pots – they all grew.

The first gardener we had was called Wally. He was an ex-milkman and a dirty old man. The ‘#metoo’ movement would have had a field day with his grubby chat and occasional pat on the bottom. Back then it felt innocent enough. He left when, in 1994, we bought the dawter a Labrador. Jackson leapt and gamboled and Wally said – he was from the north east –

‘There’s narway ahm lettin’ that dog piss ahll eauver me leacks.’

He left with his tools and a heavy heart. He died shortly after.

Then we had a lesbian couple who made us a brick path and fake wishing well. They gifted us a fountain to put in the middle of the well. One of the women was forever attempting suicide; gardening was her therapy. When they completed our ground work they split up and the suicidal one went to live in the Lake District and open up a cattery. To my knowledge she’s happily still there with her rescue pussies.

Then we had a geezer from the East End who wanted to turn the plot into a corporation garden. All straight edges and winter pansies. I sacked him so he pestered me in the way only East End geezers can. Sadly he got Cancer, gave up gardening and went bald. When I see him now I act like he’s never cradled my hellebores.

A delicious young woman called Amy who had perfect skin and talked ‘dog’ came and pulled weeds and planted unusual plants. She left to open a flower sanctuary in Wales snd has a knack with unruly Salukis’

There have been others but our last man was the best. A Postie, he gardened in his spare time using the funds to go nip off for golfing weekends. He unloaded his tools and in three hours brought the garden back to a delicious kind of unruly life. He’s ill now so we wish him well as we look for a new helper.

The thing about gardening is that it’s ok if you’re Monty Don with lots of time and space and dosh. But I’m of the persuasion that when its done its done. Only it isn’t is it? When it’s done the minute you turn your back on it it needs doing again, dunnit?.

I do have time on my hands but not enough for pulling and weeding. Although I must say this morning felt good, bending down and picking up leaves. The smell was wholesome and the labour easy. My spare time is spent planting words onto paper, germinating them and then letting them grow. I know that gardening’s good for the soul but so is word pruning.

Now I await Sue Grey’s report. If that bugger gets off I haven’t yet thought of an appropriate reaction. I need to do something to assuage my rage. P’raps a mammoth weeding session may help, although it feels just too gentle, I need to smash something and scream loudly.

When I was a teenager I helped my mother in the garden. It was the first and last time. I pulled out 42 lettuce plants thinking they were weeds and plunged the garden fork through my middle toe on my right foot. I still have the scar. I shouted at my mother through the kitchen window but she thought I was waving. As drops of blood left a trail though the house I was eventually taken to the doctor, was given a month off school, and convinced, once and for all, that gardening is not my strong point.

Boris should take a leaf out of my compost and stick to what he’s good at, although fuck knows what that is, because him running a country is a bit like my gardening, haphazard, slap happy and full of low lying hazards, he just needs to leave it to the Monty Dons of Whitehall

May Sue Grey deliver the verdict we need.

1 thought on “Garden Waste”

  1. Hello Jeni, what a gorgeous chat of gardeners. Your blogs always make me smile.
    In my completely bias opinion if you are looking for a new gardener my husband is rather fab! He has just started his own gardening venture. (has his RHS qualification which he did as our mid-lives took hold!) Dipped his toe at working for one of the larger gardening companies in TWells and ran a mile from the industrial approach to caring for nature!
    But has now started The Glory of the Garden (yes based on Rudyard Kipling’s poem) if you are hunting for a good nut, here are his details
    Tel 01982 652127
    Mob 07915602160
    Email [email protected]

    Ps keep blogging we love them X


Leave a comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.