This was a dreary day, covered in cloud and drizzling. However, we were able to continue in the garden; Jackie with her general maintenance, and I making further inroads into the ivy-clad corner. A framed nursery bed is to be returned to grass. I had removed the frame in readiness for creating the scented bed. Jackie dug and sifted the soil so it is ready for seeding. She also weeded and potted up some plants which require a certain amount of thought for their final resting place to be determined. The head gardener, Jackie, and the lady of the manor, Elizabeth had both bought carloads of plants this week. I had never thought we could run out of available space. Until now.
Over lunch we discussed, among other subjects, plant varieties and boundaries between properties. The subject of plant names came up because I had misinformed Michael Watts as to the identity of the Leycesteria photographed for yesterday’s post. I confused it with Abutilon, which we don’t have. Michael, the qualities I described do apply to the Leycesteria, but the Abutilon is not hardy. Hopefully this will demonstrate that I am definitely the under-gardener in this partnership. It was natural, given that we were eating an unusual variety of cucumber, that our expert was able to tell us that there is one called ‘Burpless’. I thought that did bear repeating.
In retrospect, the boundary issue was a little more alarming. Potentially. Apparently Richard Barbe-Baker (see 26th. May), when splitting up his land for sale, ensured that the neighbours on all sides would be responsible for fences, wall, hedges, and the like. This caused a minor dispute when one set of neighbours wanted to replace the laurel hedge which I had been attacking all morning. Whoever is responsible for the fixture dividing properties, the people on the other side must agree to the nature and materials of what is proposed. Elizabeth and Rob did not want their wonderful, well-established, hedge replaced by a fence. Perhaps having been unaware that I had been tugging away at thick stems of ivy entwined around that very laurel, Elizabeth casually remarked, in passing, that there was a sheer drop the other side. I was a little less vigorous in the afternoon. The neighbouring houses, you see, were built in a disused gravel pit.
Something similar pertained at Lindum House in Newark. Our garden ran along the side of the back gardens of Wellington Road. Ours was on a higher level than the others. There was therefore a similar drop on the other side. Against the wall between us and No. 10 Wellington Road, on their side, was a small ladder. This had been placed to enable the small boy who lived there to hop over and play with our previous owners’ dog. When we took up residence we left the ladder so the lad could nip across and play with Sam and Louisa. Paddy, our dog, when she arrived into our household, and when the little boy had made way for two other canines, took to leaping from our side into the new neighbour’s garden, relishing the opportunity to frolic with her own kind. Being, until she ruptured her stifle chasing a hare, a nimble creature, she would scale the ladder back to us when she’d had enough. Unfortunately the ladder eventually disintegrated. This meant the owner of her playmates had to lift her up to the level of our wall. This was all right when he was at home. When he wasn’t she would have to call for assistance from our side. Which might take some time.
Danni and Andy joined us this afternoon and stayed on for Jackie’s evening meal. This was a very tasty Shepherd’s Pie, which, among other ingredients, contained mushrooms. Jackie drank her usual Hoegaarden, Andy orange juice,and the rest of us, assorted red wines. As usual at The Firs, this was followed by the eponymous mess. This consists of applying whatever is available to the bed of a merangue, and crunching it all up.