20 April 2011

The Price of Loveliness

A hose is never far away at Brooke Hall and sprinklers are constantly in motion. Plant poison is applied with a fine water colour brush. And there is a lot of noise. Leaves are blown away or vacuumed up, edgings are kept perfectly neat, the hedges and topiary need to be kept just so. And the lawn needs to be mown quite a lot. Even when it is closed to the public, the garden is in full hair and make up.

Clipping lavender by a swimming pool can be a pleasant job, but next to a pool cleaning power jet it is not so nice. When that is turned off the drone of the strimmer floats over the warm spring air. A croak from a pheasant sounding like an old-fashioned motor car and the intriguing noise of sheep clearing their throats are a relief once the machines go on their way. As the Dowager Duchess of Devonshire writes in her page-turner The Garden at Chatsworth, ‘the garden is no longer a place for quiet contemplation’. Jobs once done by people, for instance raking, are still done by people but in a way that is quicker and noisier. I am given a lesson with the leaf blower, and equipped with earplugs. Getting it started and turning off the choke is what I’m concentrating on. It peters out pretty quickly and I can’t get it started again. So I get down on my knees and push the leaves under the hedge myself.
So much easier, and quieter.

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