12 April 2011

Wobbly Stripes

The garden at Brooke Hall is open to the public for one day on Sunday and since I don't have a weed killer spray certificate I am asked to mow. This is met with a snort. Mow! never done it. Don't worry, says the head gardener, we're not too concerned about stripes here. The first area is the private garden (where stripes would be encouraged one would think). The machine pulls me around box balls and pleached limes and then up a spiral mound installed by a big designer who doesn't mow. Up and up I go and get horribly stuck at the top where the mower wants to take flight. It is a modern mound with sharp angles, intended to block out the public at a slightly vulnerable spot, but it is inspired by something ancient, Celtic even. Sheep would have clambered over it. I'm surrounded by long-haired rare breed sheep but they are on the other side of the ha-ha, and here I am with the mower.

After this, a gardener who has been here for a few decades tells me that stripes do matter, particularly in the place where I'm headed next: it is a square garden with a round fountain in the middle.

Some time later, I ask the head gardener if he feels ready for visitors. He always seems so relaxed and is not in the least bit inclined to worry just because the public is arriving. All that people really mind about, he says, are neat edges and well-cut lawns.

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