Labours of Love

Today was a sunny Saturday. Our usual routine would involve shopping and housework. But we are in a strange state of being now; the routines don’t apply anymore. They have no purpose. The new owners of our home dropped by to look at the window-frames – they are applying for a council grant to replace them.

We chatted, on our/their verandah. Monday is the end of the “cooling off” period, when they will sign the contract and pay the deposit. No going back, for them or us.

Before they arrived, I pruned the rose hedge, for the last time. I have done so religiously every May – tip-pruning after the last blooms of summer – and a hard prune in July before the first frosts. I prune once more in October, to prepare her for the summer show of flowers. This year I caught lady-bugs and gently moved them onto the leaves, where they obligingly ate all the aphids, so I didn’t have to spray!

As I trimmed and snipped, filling the green bin with cuttings I will never strike, emotion surged. I have loved this garden into life. When we moved in it was barren and dry, the grass was balding, there were no beds, and only a couple of neglected trees. Seven seasons on, it’s a riot of climbers, jasmine, olive, apple, lemon and orange tree, colourful shrubs and ornamental grasses. Potted geraniums and lavender, herbs, and a rockery of succulents and cacti adorn what was once parched, cracked concrete.

A new pergola, and the “bush bar” that I built with my mate Sam out of recycled wood and corrugated iron, stands where a rickety dog-enclosure previously held two miserable staffies.

My little work-shop at the end of the garden is dusty. The tools haven’t been used in a while. All my projects have stopped. Today I sold my drop-saw, and the 100-year-old concrete double-sink that used to be in the laundry, which was going to become a water-feature. I sold the beautifully-seasoned fire-wood that it took me half a day to stack. It won’t heat our fireplace this year. There is a stack of old bricks I dragged from under the house, by the small tin shed I store my sprays and fertilizers in; they were to become my fire-pit. I guess they will end up on a skip.

Next week I will be emptying the sheds, and setting aside any tools that will follow us to Spain, where new projects will occupy me: the first of which will be a chicken coop and run. Yes, chickens. Finally she has agreed to chickens! The dog will have to be trained not to chase them.

I won’t see next year’s apples, lemons, oranges and olives. Someone else will snip the herbs to put in their tomato sauce. The roses will bloom, pink and white, once more.



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