samedi 11 octobre 2008

Black day in the garden



Cyclamen hederifolium
growing in a plastic bin

they look like a twilight gathering of maiden priestesses


Or a black day for a gardener.

I had to do it, but I wish I hadn't.

For ages, I have been asking Victor from Florosny (it's starting to sound like his full name to me) to come and look at the garden. First, it was because I was so proud of myself. Then, it was because the adult rhododendron that I planted a few years ago, in 2005, had dropped to basement level (not enough heavy planting soil mixed with all the fluffy terre dite de bruyère, or peaty soil). Finally, it was because I have really needed help with the big pruning.

I really wanted Victor to come and tell me how wonderful my work was, how sensational my garden is, how marvellous I am. What I heard was a breath pushed out past his lips, like a silent whistle, or "whoaaa", and "There's a lot of work to be done here. [pause] It's a great garden structure, [pause and another breath pushed out] but it really needs work."

You could practically hear the air come out of me, as I wheeled around in the air like a deflated party balloon, panting for breath.

I don't like to make excuses or pat myself on the back, but I couldn't help myself after awhile. Even Audouin seemed to feel the need to tell him how very, very overgrown it had been, stressing just how much I had accomplished and how really bad it had been before "Jacqueline a fait tout ce qu'elle a fait."

"Vraiment, Victor, vous n'imaginez pas à quel point ce jardin fut sauvage et ruiné. Ce que vous voyez, autant que c'est loin de bien, est tellement mieux que cela n'était. Personne n'y avait travaillé depuis des années. Nos amis voient la différence. Avant, ils ne disaient que 'Comment c'est dommage!' et 'Quel potential gaspillé!', et maintenant ils peuvent le trouver beau. Mais il y a des choses que je ne peux pas faire toute seule, et c'est un boulot au plein-temps, pour lequel je n'ai tout simplement pas toujours le temps." It sounded pathetic. Unconvincing.

I scarcely have the heart to translate, but here we go "Really, Victor, you just cannot imagine how wild and destroyed this garden was. What you see, as far as it is from good, is so much better than how it was. No one had tended it for years. Our friends see the difference. Before, they only ever said 'What a shame!' and 'What potential gone to waste!', and now they can find it beautiful. But, there are things I just can't do by myself, and it is a full-time job, for which I just don't always have the time."

It sounds as pathetic and unconvincing in English.

We don't agree on all things garden, so I won't listen to everything he is undoubtedly going to suggest -- even when I might be wrong not to --, but he will return to spend a day or more with me, doing the hard stuff. So much to tear out and prune the life out of.

I was going to take pictures to show here what is true, but I couldn't. I just couldn't. It was already enough to show Victor today. One stripping naked in public is enough for one day, for a season of gardening, for five seasons of back-breaking restoration that still look far from ready for prime-time.

....

Le chêne pyramidal, or Fastigated English Oak

One thing we learned is that the oak that has improved since I cut down a row of cedars that were getting in its way is not a rather ordinary oak, but a rarer specimen, a chêne pyramidal, or Quercus robur 'Fastigata', also known as a Fastigate English Oak. Its chief characteristic is that it has a columnular form, with the branches starting at the base, tapering toward the top. The lowest had been removed, and I removed a few at head height so that we don't get knocked unconscious trying to go down to the motorcycles or the pool after dark. It grows too close to the pathway.

Everything is placed slightly wrong here.


Note: The cyclamen photographed above I tore out of the planting beds in the entry court when it was demolished. I tossed them into a plastic bin with some dirt, and of course they came back. Nature is faithful. I took these pictures with Rapide and Baccarat trying to sniff them in the late twilight, entre chien et loup. That's why they are a bit fuzzy. I loved them anyway. I love my garden, as bad as it is, as discouraged and demoralized as I am, as far behind as I feel perpetually. That's a fallen leaf from the Fastigated English Oak that stands near where I stuck the bin, at the bottom of the stairs in the bin.

I'll take these small wonders any day.

....
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