Every time I look out of my bedroom windows in the morning these days I check out the tamarisk tree which, now in its 35th year of living in our garden, is approaching its very best. Regular readers may recall that I planted
the tree to mark the opening of the Tamarisk Day Centre in Littlehampton in 1986 - my job was to organise publicity for the opening and my abiding memory is of getting stuck in the centre’s lift with several members of the press.
Sadly the Tamarisk Centre closed in 2016 but the tamarisk tree in our back garden has continued to flourish with considerable rigour. One might say it has not so much grown as rampaged
across its flower bed “home.” Like everybody still waiting an appointment at their hair salon of choice, it needs a good pruning but I am afraid that any brutal treatment might kill it off. I have never allowed Mr B to forget the fate of a ceanothus
tree which used to grace our garden once upon a time - until he took it upon himself to try to tame it. My despair at its demise has been lessened by the gift of a replacement “blue bush” by two work colleagues on my retirement nearly nine years
ago - this, like the tamarisk tree is rampaging beautifully in the front garden to my lasting delight.
Rambling through the branches of the tamarisk tree are two
sweet-scented invaders - a rose and honeysuckle. They add to the overall appearance of general benign neglect which characterises my garden. I am making no apologies, you understand - there is a reason for everything, I reckon, even if I can’t always
work it out for myself.
Mr B, however, is quite another matter and this might be one down-side to the Room Outdoors Project. I’ve only just thought about
it but once the new decking is down and he is able to move outside, I know he will have plenty to say about my lack of attention to the finer points of gardening. It’s all very well, he will say, to plant sunflowers - but there’s more to gardening
than a few flower pots. He is not going to reckon much to my rambling rose and other similarly wilful trees and shrubs.
He is already complaining about the
rowan tree which planted itself in a flower border a few years ago. Up until this year he hasn’t noticed it but now it has grown tall enough to be seen from his arm-chair in the living room. It looks, he tells me, “untidy.” I remind him that
the rowan tree is supposed to protect the dwelling by which it grows, especially when it has chosen where to plant itself. “Untidy!” mutters Mr B. It’s safe to say that he remains to be convinced...
Things would be so much worse without the attentions of Ken the Gardener who for very many years has kept our lawns mown and the borders weeded. This week he was unable to call and the daisies have been having a field day
(if you’ll excuse a completely unintended, but most appropriate, pun.)
I love the daisies. I think they should be considered flowers in their own right,
rather than be classified as weeds. Along with buttercups and dandelions, don’t you know?
I am reminded of the time, long ago, when our Foursome were
littl’uns and Mr B was away from home all week having started a new job. It was taking an age to sell our house and I was struggling with an outbreak of chicken-pox to add to the sense of isolation. Could I, Mr B asked during his daily phone call home,
find the time to mow the lawn? Well, you know me - always up for a challenge.
Off I set, pushing the mower before me - until cries of distress brought me
to a sudden stop. Full of dread, I turned round expecting the worst. “The daisies! The daisies!” mourned my daughters, holding accusing handfuls of decapitated flowers under my nose.
“How did you get on?” Mr B asked me that night. “Not too well,” I admitted, “I had a bit of trouble with the daisies...” From the chuckle at the other end of the line, it was clear he knew
exactly what I was talking about. How did he cope with the Daisy Problem, I wanted to know.
“Easy,” he said, “I just tell the girls they
need to pick all the daisies before I get to them!”
“But they couldn’t possibly do that - there must be thousands of daisies on the lawn!”
“Indeed,” he conceded, “So they start off picking daisies until they get bored and decide to leave the rest to the mower!”
Then, as still today, I was full of admiration for Mr B’s sheer instinctive cunning.