The not so surprising thing about surprises is that by their very nature they take you by surprise. Some are bad like the letter I got recently informing me I had been caught on camera in Watford on the 30th April at 0657 travelling at 41mph in a 30 zone. A few days later I had another nasty surprise when the Essex Constabulary informed me that on the 12th May at 1243 I had been caught on camera travelling at 58mph on the QE2 bridge which has a 50mph limit. WTF! Are speeding tickets buses now? Nothing for ages then two come along together! I have no recollection of speeding on either occasion.
I have completed my speed awareness course where we covered the laws of physics, watched videos, had discussions on a variety of speed and driving related subjects. All jolly interesting stuff. I think I only nodded off once. For the offence on the QE2 bridge I have paid the fine and had 3 points put on my driving licence. I have informed my insurers who will happily use the excuse to increase my premiums for the next few years. Bummer!
At times like this I like to take refuge in my garden and have a good old poke around, dig some holes, plant some plants, do a bit of pruning and mow the lawn. Even this can have nasty surprises usually in the form of half buried cat shit where you least expect it and, more often than not, precisely where you are using your hands to make a planting hole slightly bigger! Nothing quite like a handful of cat poo to brighten your day or to discover new ways to curse the blasted creatures! Then there are the surprises where things you planned to happen in the garden don’t materialise. A couple of years ago I wrote about how the foxgloves in my garden were doing particularly well and were giving a good show. I said how easy they are to grow and that I just let them seed where they want. I was a bit smug about it. Imagine my surprise when to my surprise (and disappointment) my smugness bit me on the arse last year and hardly any grew at all, just a few straggly specimens managed to make an appearance.
In an effort to escape from the terrible thoughts I was having about the things I would like to do to the inventor of the speed camera and the fecal land mines laid in my front garden by an assortment of neighbourhood felines, I decided to cut the grass in the back garden. Mowing the lawn isn’t my favourite pastime but it’s the kind of mindless exercise I can live with and the end result always looks nice. So I grabbed my iPod, inserted the earpieces and started to mow. The music, the hum of the lawn mower engine, the sound of the mower blades cutting through the grass, clover and daisies allied with the buzz of a stray stone being picked up and spat out at great speed and smashing the kitchen window soon relaxed me and I started having more pleasant thoughts such as what PIL looks like naked. Probably not a good thing for a bloke to be thinking if he has a pair of secateurs in his hand but it’s fine when mowing the lawn. Then, out of the corner of my eye I saw something that gave me a very pleasant surprise. Along the fence at the side of the garden there is a line of 25 or 30 beech trees. They may be hornbeam but I can’t tell the difference. I cut them back at the beginning of last year so that they are only about 8 feet high and they are turning into quite a pleasant-looking hedge. Birds nest in amongst the branches and lots of creepy crawlies live there and call it home. Well, in amongst the branches, arching beautifully with the weight of flowers was a lovely fox glove.
All on its own.
It looked just simply beautiful. It had white flowers flushed pink.
It reminded me that no matter how hard we try, Nature will always go two or three better and produce something in the most surprising and unusual places. I was chuffed to bits to see that.
There are three things that most people find surprising about our garden although two of those will be changing. First, there aren’t any roses in the garden. None at all. There was one by the front door when we first moved in but that went a few years ago. I understand why people like roses. They often have beautiful flowers, they come in a huge array of colours and some have a wonderful scent. To me though they are just a mega pain in the bum. They are “gross feeders” so they take all the nutrients and minerals out of the soil meaning copious quantities of compost has to be added once or twice a year or you end up with dust. They attract pests, especially aphids and diseases that spread to other plants in the garden and to top it all they rip you to shreds if you so much as touch them. Not for me. I prefer to be able to sit back and admire my garden.
I also get why people like bedding plants or annuals. Instant colour that lasts for months if you dead head regularly. I just think “aching back” and “sore knees” from planting them in the Spring and digging the blighters up again in the Autumn. Not to mention the increase in getting a handful of cat poo while digging them in. That’s changing though. PIL (aka She Who Must Be Obeyed) wants hanging baskets and that means annuals although mixed up with things like strawberries and stuff. She tends to take care of the pots too and does a fine job with them. They’ll be annuals in the pots as well. I don’t mind. It’s our garden and my only objection to bedding plants is the effort involved. I look forward to seeing how that works out.
The other surprising thing about our garden is the absence of the colour orange. Or so I thought. I’m talking the fruit colour here. Goes with bugger all. Clashes with everything. In a gloomy corner of the front garden there is a big clump of what I think are Welsh Poppies. For work reasons, I tend to be away when they flower in May. They’re yellow. Or so I thought. This year they flowered a bit later and I saw them. They looked absolutely superb in that slightly gloomy corner and contrasted really well with the white flowers in the front. (I have no idea what the white flowers are. Planted ’em years ago and I can never remember plant names. Unlike my memory for the collective noun for wombats!!) Anyhow, they looked really good but they were orange! See. Nature did it again. Nothing to do with me. They are staying. Look at the photo and you’ll see what I mean. Smashing!
On that note I must go as it’s getting late. Have a nice day wherever you may be and whatever time it may be where you are.
More Dick soon.