Sandy’s Garden ... Task Part-Accomplished

“The task is o’er, the deed is done / Now is the chain-saw’s battle won / All the offending shrubs are gone / Alleluia!”

Monday, 10th February 2020, 9:41 am

I trust that the ghost of Francis Pott … the English hymnist who translated the Latin words of the 17th-century hymn, “Finita jam sun proeli” into English in 1861 … will forgive me for taking some liberties with his lyric. But our arboriculturist and his team have been, done and gone. The shrubs which would have been in the way of the men who are contracted to renew our fascia boards, soffits, guttering and downpipes and which would have prevented them from erecting the staging they need to access one of their worksites have been removed. Despite the expert arboriculturist’s assurances that the our previously enormous and, in our opinion, very attractive Photinia … sometimes known as a ‘red robin’ … will regenerate from the roots which remain in the ground, looking at the sawn-off-at-ground-level stumps of what were its main shoots does not fill me with confidence. I have the feeling that, were I to be sawn off at ankle level and the greater part of me shredded in preparation for composting, my feet would not grow a new me, even were they to be embedded in soil!

What I found the most surprising aspect of the clearing operation was the sheer speed with which it was accomplished. As promised, the boss and his team of men were on site before 8 o’clock on the scheduled morning; and by the top of the hour the team had been given their instructions and were ready to start work. Long-reach petrol-driven chainsaws, trimmers, lawn rakes, leaf blowers and plenty of muscle were variously employed to fell mature shrubs and reduce to them to manageable chunks for the Timberwolf attached to their collecting vehicle to shred; to lop unwanted branches and branchlets from trees and shrubs throughout the entire garden; to collect the assorted shrub- and tree-related debris into heaps on huge cloths spread out for this exercise; to lug these cloths with their contents to the Timberwolf for shredding; and, with the aid of brushes, to clear the entire worksite of all detritus, leaving the whole garden looking very much the better for its early spring-clean and for being comprehensively spruced up. And, believe it or not, within the hour the deed was done, men, machines, materials and unwanted waste matter loaded and ready to depart as soon as their imminently-arriving boss had inspected the garden with us and satisfied himself that his team had done a good job and that we were pleased with their work. Alleluia!

The following day our handyman arrived, as arranged, to remove some cabling that was stapled to the fascia boards in another area awaiting the arrival of the roofing contractors. I had removed part of one long-disused cable myself, discovering … as I suspected … that my age-induced uncertainty working from ladders made the employment of a better-balanced handyman a very good idea. And again, where I really struggled to prise the oft-overpainted staples away from the wood … and didn’t the original cabler do a great job in ensuring these staples would hang on in there … our handyman, perfectly happy atop the stepladder and using his choice of the best tool for the job, howked them out in less time than it takes to tell. Alleluia again! And thank goodness both these tasks were accomplished in dry, calm conditions, preventing shrub fragments from being spread far and wide to cling, wet and obstinate, to anything and everything as well as making the handyman’s task less onerous.

Sandy Simpson

This very morning, checking that the house had survived a wild night unscathed, I saw a forgotten co-axial cable stapled to a different part of the fascia. Oh, Ashtabula!!