The body doesn’t lie – yes, I’m getting older (“older” is older than simply being old!). There are a few aches and pains this morning, just in case my poor memory has allowed yesterday’s activities to slip away into the mists of the past.
Gardening is a gentle activity, perhaps not in the young garden with young gardeners, but ours is now an older garden, (we came here in 1987) and the big work of laying out the garden has been done long ago. I don’t have to face into digging out beds and borders any longer and am most unlikely to head into any such work from now on. Nowadays, the work is routine maintenance: the cutting of grass and hedges, weeding, tidying up, planting new plants etc, nothing heavy at all – “just tipping around” as my father used call it.
Occasionally, a job bigger and heavier comes along to remind the body of what it once could do with ease and one must find a new way of tackling such challenges. A shrub, Viburnum farreri, now about twenty years old, had become too big for its boots. It had grown far too big for its space, had become too tall, lanky, and was crowding out other plants which deserved to be seen. It had also the habit of suckering – sending new plants up from the roots at a distance from the parent plant – so that now it was not simply a single shrub but had become a thicket. This had the advantage that I could remove the main plant and yet have plants remaining, younger plants which can be left for another twenty years before they will need such attention.
Knowing my physical limitations, I took my ease with the work. As there were many other plants around the base of the shrub, mainly snowdrops and wood anemones, I couldn’t simply lay into the work with the pickaxe and muscle the root ball into submission. This was a more careful approach – a trench around the root ball, cutting the roots with axe and secateurs as I proceeded, removing the soil to garden trugs so as not to swamp nearby plants. All went well, gently does it, and the root ball stood isolated from surrounding soil. Of course, nothing is quite so simple and there is always that root which grows from the very centre of the base of the plant and is able to tickle the roots of some relative in Australia. A long metal bar was called into operation and the use of body weight at the end of a long arm – bringing to mind school lessons from many years ago and “Prionsabal an Luamháin”, the principle of the lever and, of course, that particularly Irish principle – the principle of the wheelbarrow: the harder you push, the faster you go! With a little huffing and puffing, the stump was free, disposed of; the hole filled with compost and the soil returned. Job finished!
This morning, there are a few aches – that wrist and that elbow which were hurt some years ago and which pain now and then to remind me of those past events and of yesterday’s efforts. Pain is not to be despised; it is simply a reminder of past days and past efforts and a caution to be careful.