Ahh, deadheading roses, cutting back Japanese anemones, typing up heavy-headed hydrangeas, all in the dappled sun of a late October afternoon. That’s my type of gardening. For my DH, gardening is decimating hedges, hacking off overhanging branches, then, knee-deep in the wreckage, shredding every last frond and branch, and covering freshly-weeded flowerbeds with the resulting fallout.
This is hardcore to my genteel dabbling, Wickes’ builders grippa gloves to my floral Cath Kidstons. DH’s gardening usually turns into a two-man job, and sometimes I’m in the mood. Swapping my CK’s for some Wickes’ specials, there was a certain pleasure to be gleaned from watching the blades of the hedge cutter gliding through branches like a spoon through custard. There was less to be had from sorting the big branches from the small, the ‘shred-able’ from the ‘compost-able’, but nothing beats shredding for a sense of power.
Great swathes of conifer branches reduce to a few bags of aromatic scraps with a scent both pleasant and overpowering, and sneeze-inducing. Hunks of lilac tree disappear into a bin liner with no scent at all, and bushes of laurel throw up an almond-y scent, as they compact down into flowerbed fodder. It’s like Mary Poppins’ carpet bag in reverse – forests go in, a heap of fragrant chips and scraps comes out.
And don’t be fooled by those fragrant roses that have quietly crept their tangled way through trees and shrubs. They can look after themselves. They are the wicked stepmothers of the flower garden.
Drunk on power, I laughed at the thorns on the stems of runaway roses. I sneered at the tiny barbs at the whip end of the suckers, as we fed the guzzling shredder. As it chewed its way through the stems, one six foot stem flailed through the air like a rotary blade. I didn’t duck quickly enough and it caught me under my nose. I’d be exaggerating if I said I was flung across the garden but not when I say that the pain of the wound was of the eye-watering, enfeebling variety. Arm to my nose to stem (ouch) the flow of blood, I escaped the danger zone, running low and fast to avoid another lashing. Two days later I realised the thorn was still in there, and having my long-sighted DH trying to remove it with tweezers, while admitting that maybe he should have warned me, made me wince all over again and brought to mind some sound advice –
From the sublime to the ridiculous is only one step
Never give a sucker an even break
He who fights and runs away, may live to fight another day