05 October 2011

Remembering One's Station in Life

A day of mowing and blowing and raking of hedge trimmings, but mainly mowing. The gardens at Brooke Hall have closed to the public, so the season of stripey lawns is officially over. But according to my friend Nick, who has been mowing here for 30 years, stripes are always in fashion. It's up to me whether to go freestyle or formal and I decide to practise my stripes. It's quite difficult not to mow the same one over and over again and watch it go pale, then dark, then pale again. It is essential to mow into a pale or 'white' stripe, not a dark one, or you will end up with one enormous pale stripe, ie no stripes at all.

A useful chant, passed down amongst the underclass of gardeners, comes to mind when mowing: 'White is right; black is sack.' It is grimly authentic. In the good old days, if a gardener was found sitting down during work hours he could expect the sack. Even now, a rest doesn't look good: the bucolic life is not without its perils. Let us be grateful then that we are no longer required to use a lawn roller, like the one that lives behind the garages (above).


  1. That brings back memories! My father had a garden roller and longed for a stripy lawn. But he had a huge garden and a job that kept him very busy and some summers he barely found time to mow the lawn at all. No one else was allowed to touch it. I remember one year the grass got so tall he scythed it and made hay. Such are the gaps between hopes and reality!

  2. A team of paid gardeners is required for this kind of perfection. Scything and hay making is more in step with gardens today, don't you think Annie - though you might need to put on a smock first.