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The Gardening Coach

Catharine Howard is the Gardening Coach. Contact her for gardening advice and visit www.thegardeningcoach.co.uk for more information.
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A boundary story

The truth of it is no-go, slow stasis and paralysis and so I am going to post this opalescent image by Char Faber of the east Sussex coast.   Hot off her iPad and winged around yesterday. By chance,  it is where we walked on the new year’s day.  Back then, sea spun green in sharp sunlight,  heaving pebbles around.   The sky was Early Learning Centre blue.  This pictorial distraction is perfect.   Sitting  inside twiddling thumbs and waiting for the weather has become a joke.

The mini-digger and crew have been booked in since December 2nd.  Meanwhile our garden, such a promise of future loveliness, looks like the slums of Dehravi.  Or would if a sprinkling of cold white had not covered up the worst and glam-ed it up a little.  Trees are heeled in all round the garden and each week I ring Stephen at the fruit tree nursery to postpone collection of certain apples and pears yet again.

Ruminating inside forgetting what gardening gloves look like, I greeted my spade as an alien or stranger yesterday.     And so, the moment for a boundary story.   Red rage and rag to a bull are boundaries.  I have seen it many a time at work and I live with a man who makes his living out of those who have fallen out disputatiously over a few centrimetres.

And could not believe it that we nearly fell into this trap too.  It all started with the puppy.  Puppies and fences go together.  Our urban garden has motley surrounds of brick wall, angle-irons and mesh and the last two sides in running-amok hedging.   Mainly a very grown-out form of honeysuckle.  A dull cousin with no flowers and tedious small leaves.  If not cut two or three times a year, it begins sprawling  and then falls over.

Two sets of people to parley with.  First a real live neighbour, Hilary,  behind a very overgrown hedge.  Despite the fact that – in patches – her hedge was to be rendered down to toothy stumps, neighbourly cordiality.  And so, privacy cast aside we got on with clearance.  That done, we checked out fence types and cut Hilary in on the decision.  Last off all we met on the ground and marked all out with canes, string and yellow market paint.  Fence in, hornbeam whips, job done.

Meanwhile up top we fenced off from the Castle Meadow. That stretch had a logical place, just aft of the unruly hedge in existence.  This we wanted to keep for privacy as it is a public place.  Beguiled by  public place, we just got on with it:  run of fence, simple oak gate and posts and hawthorn hedging whips.   Caned and spiralled to deter the rabbits.

Six months later,  on to the doormat, a letter with the roar of authority giving us 2 weeks to move our fence and take out the oak gate we had put in.   We asked for a site meeting to see if the orders were axiomatic.  The man with the suit came with a survey drawing and made it clear that we had encroached by 45 centimetres onto the public  patch of nettles.  The gate was forbidden.    “No unauthorised access”   he bellowed.  A touch of the Alice in Wonderland breaks out as the meadow is an open unlocked place.  Chastened and obedient, all has been complied with but I wish we had met him with the yellow spray paint in the first place.

The gate will be recycled elsewhere in our garden.

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