Sunday, 8 January 2012

Tree of Controversy

I also took some pictures of moss and lichen

It looks like I have entered into a diabolical pact over trees and tree planting.
I am designing a new section of the garden and a battle has been raging over a large native willow, which represents an important visual anchor point in the design. Now, I don’t want this particular willow. It is nothing special, there are millions like it and I have a policy of swapping trees I don’t want, eg self-set ash and sycamore, with nice, posh trees that I do*. But I had planned to leave it there for the time being until I had decided on a replacement. This is a source of contention as someone else wants it gone with all speed.

Part of this plan involves using a JCB to improve drainage and create a terraced valley with access to the stream. When it comes to diggers I am very conservative. They can be something of a blunt instrument and, in my experience, ‘people’ get them in and then the entire project starts to suffer from mission creep. And we don’t do diesel-fuelled, red-mist mission creep in my garden. We do careful, considered, organic groundworks with a clear end in mind.
I am holding my ground, but when pressed as to why it could not be removed when the main groundworks take place I admitted that some of my indecision hung on the fact that specimen trees are not exactly cheap. At which point I was told that if the willow went, a replacement would be paid for – up to a point.

Ok. Not a bad deal. Deals with Beelzebub rarely are on the face of it. But now I have to make a decision. Fast. And be there to keep a goddamn eye on proceedings.** This is a big space in direct view of the house. I was thinking Morus nigra – perhaps too slow growing; Cornus kousa 'Variegata' – maybe not big enough; Liquidambar...white stemmed birch...Crataegus....a delicate ornamental cherry....  What is needed is a specimen tree, 10-15 metres at maturity that will thrive in moist, medium-heavy, somewhat acid soil. Answers on a postcard please!
And what else does the New Year hold? Well, it looks like I will be giving gardening talks more often which is an exciting departure. There are some gardening projects too. What I need most right now (apart from loads of plants and a massive pay rise) is some really heavy-duty gardening gloves – gauntlets, preferably – to deal with the brambles.

Tis a funny thing. The very best ideas arrive with no prompting. All is quiet, then they hit like rain splattering on a window pane, to be caught and chronologued before they run to waste. Silver threads of text whirling into being from blackness and void. You know when the words arrive. All is well. Indeed, the very best work arrives on the page fully formed. In a nirvana of space and intellectual time, the passion and intensity coalesces into something more solid.
Sometimes you travel so fast that you forget that you will probably get further if you stop. Suspect this will be worth remembering in 2012.  

*Fear not gentle environmentalist, there are plenty of native trees and we are planting more for the wildlife. All is well.

**This is not so much ‘not in my back yard’ but ‘Yes, in my back yard but just the way I want it – don’t get excitable with no diggers behind my back, ok?!’