Life is full of impossible projects – Victoria’s blog
In preparation for our very own Whitsun Wedding, and while we were still lashed by the perpetual rain, darkness and storms of winter 2019/2020, some vital and of course impossible gardening fantasies were fostered.
The first was that the parking for the great event would be in the field called Dohea at the back of the garden. A scaffolding bridge would be made to cross the ha ha, and the guests would walk down the central avenue to the steps and then to the chapel which would be suitably bedecked with flowers. Like a story, the bridge would be dressed overall with flowers and at the end of the evening flares and Chinese lanterns would show the guests the way home to the ordinary world. In the Picturesque tradition the guests would move from admiring the view, to being the view.
Well, as I said, it was a fantasy. The reality was quite, quite different. Everything was waterlogged. The water-table appeared to be a clear two inches above the ground and full waterproofs had to be donned just to walk up there with the dogs. It was mostly dark as well as wet, and the trees kept falling down. All the guests would need wellies and we imagined that while they were trying to find shelter during the wedding their cars would sink without a trace in the field. Legions of tractors would be needed to drag the whole sorry lot out to the drive. To paraphrase Arcadia: What [I] painted as forest was a mean plantation, [my] greenery was mud, my waterfall was wet mud, and the mount was an opencast mine for mud.
The elegant sounding Central Avenue was wholly overgrown with laurels, hateful ornamental grass, myrtle and of course brambles. Not only was there no romantic first glance of the chapel as you crossed the ha ha, the avenue was so overgrown that you had to take a detour through a marginally less overgrown myrtle grove. I hate myrtles.
Similarly, the staggeringly beautiful oriental plane tree nestled in a bed of ten foot brambles with Aunt Clara’s 1930s hydrangeas occasionally showing through where they had suckered forward into the avenue – to try to escape from the brambles, and really lovely hellebores (very small, very green flowers) were just a memory. The east lawn had after five years of unrepentant rampaging been cut with a massive tractor and flail and looked muddy and … chewed. Great heaps of soggy prickly mulch lay around and I was given many smug prognostications about the result of my intemperate actions in having it cut. The mulch would kill what little grass we had under the weeds and hogweed/the mulch would act as a super intense fertiliser to encourage the weeds and the hogweed which would engulf us.
But as I said then, I say now, FFS, you have to start somewhere. So, the gardener and I fired up the chainsaws and put vicious new blades on the strimmers. I mean we’ve all read The Secret Garden and Mary digs with a twig for goodness sake. Imagine what she would have done with a chainsaw. And, because I am a woman of vision with an ipad, I ordered 200 pheasant’s eye narcissus, judged by me to have the potential to be fragrant and in flower on May 23rd. And, after clearing the end of the avenue nearest the steps, I tossed them around in elegant groups and then provided some pretty solid supporting advice on planting them in the mud.
The Avenue is cleared, the view is sublime, the hydrangeas are pruned, the plane tree released to be beautiful once more, the brambles thrashed, the east lawn tamed and mowed and the narcissus, bang on time, flowered and spread the most delightful fragrance.
But there was no wedding.