Thursday, 4 November 2010

A Series of Doors

The Woodshed, still not as accessible as it might be!
 Actually managed to do a spot of gardening yesterday – it has suffered because of a major veg-planting extravaganza in Wales in aid of my forthcoming series in Kitchen Garden magazine. Starts in January. Look out for it. (And my adventure at the National Gardening Show in the December issue of Period Homes and Interiors). Anyway, I cut back a few perennials to stop them strangling some other stuff, liberated the door of the woodshed from encroaching evergreens (so at least we can tell if there is something nasty in it, if we want to*), and started to lay waste to some really cheeky brambles. All very therapeutic.

The picture above is of the woodshed after I had done most of the cutting back. I fear my work is not yet done.

When I was about six I had a protracted argument with my Grandmother about favourite colours. I liked red and black. She said that she liked brown best. I said that black was sharp and striking and clean and that brown was a boring, squishy, non-colour, devoid of attitude. She said black was nasty and harsh and that brown was wonderful and warm and soft. We never did agree on it.

When I re-designed and planted her front garden some 30 years later, I found myself in garden centres thinking of this and actively picking plants that were not to my taste as I knew she would like them. I prefer Heuchera ‘Palace Purple’ or ‘Silver Lode’ on slightly less gothic days. She liked H. ‘Creme Brulee’ and ‘Georgia Peach’. She liked variegated plants. Frequently wishy-washy and underfed-looking to my mind – but I bought them anyway. She hated daffodils because they get knocked down at the sides of roads. I told her she was getting some for her own good and put Tete-a-Tete at the front of the border, supporting the tall ones in mixed planting at the back. We agreed Hamamelis was a good idea and I indulged her in Choisia ‘Sundance’.

The following year, when I was about seven, she took offence to my singing Pink Floyd’s ‘The Wall’ which was in the charts at the time. She was firmly of the opinion that we did need an education, and, indeed, not needing no education was terrible grammar. No amount of discussion of the broader context of the song would sway her; it was a Bad Thing.

She was extraordinarily decisive in such matters. John Lennon’s ‘Imagine’ was the most appalling blasphemy. Yet ABBA was marvellous regardless of voulez-vous-ing and gimme-gimme-ing of men after midnight. She quite liked Wham! And Chas and Dave.

By and large we got on well. We both liked gardening, clothes and concentric rings of almonds on Dundee cakes. I did stuff, she lived vicariously, happy that stuff was being done.

As of the other day, she is not here anymore, either to indulge or to bicker with. If one, like Janus, looks both forward and backward in time there is a great sense of a door closing on the past. The first-hand memories and experiences of growing up in the 1920s and '30s are one generation less accessible. Recent history is suddenly a lot less recent.

Listening to: Nickelback ‘How You Remind Me’. Coincidentally.

Would Grandma have liked it? Not impossibly. Derivative Canadian Rock I hear you say (or possibly in the interests of accuracy (see blogs passim) contemporary rock with a hefty dash of post-grunge). Whatever.

Are we having fun yet?

*Like in Cold Comfort Farm. Naturally.

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