Euclid is to blame for the present discomfort of my mind. Granted there were many before him who had studied geometry – Pythagoras with the square on his hypotenuse was well before and there were also several other Greeks as well as Persians and Chinese who predated Euclid – but it was Euclid who brought all previous knowledge together, tidied it up, organised it and published it under his own name so that we nowadays think of him as the “father of geometry” or, as I think today, as the one who boxed us in to straight lines and confining shapes.
It all boiled down today to the question of when is a ball not a sphere and a pyramid not a pyramid and what do you get if you sort of amalgamate the two – a box ball and a box pyramid? Euclid, of course, would have none of this. No, all would have to be neat and organised, all rational, logical and organised. He allowed no space for imagination, for free form, for taking a little liberty with the third dimension. No, he would have no time nor patience for the poor undergardener who mistook a (rather odd-shaped) box ball for an out-of-shape pyramid and endeavoured to whip it into shape, giving it four flat and inward-slanting sides and a flat top and, granted, rather rounded edges to give a shape which was a sort of hybrid between a sphere and a pyramid – there’s something to blow poor Euclid’s mind for you – but which had the potential, with a little further growth and training, to become a perfectly formed and beautiful pyramid.
Box around the garden, all cut now bar one small area: Click to enlarge and begin a slideshow.
Now, the Head Gardener was on Euclid’s side today for I had been told to cut “the two box pyramids” and completed the task on one to perfection but was told the second “pyramid” had, in fact, been a ball before I had laid a blade on it. Mind you, I doubt if Euclid would ever have dealt with the situation so placidly for I was ushered on gently to another box project where, I imagine, it was considered I could do no damage, while Scissorhands herself restored the pyramidal ball to a more rounded shape, a “tall thin ball” as she described it which, she believes, will recover its full figure with a little feeding and more careful trimming in future years. Euclid, in his teachings, never made allowance for a little flair, a leap of imagination, a misunderstanding nor for a dozy and incompetent Under Gardener! He would make no sense of the shapes I can make!
Box hedges, shapes, balls, pyramids etc provide accents, incidents and occasional features in our country garden. There are no box parterres here and they would surely clash with our setting but a bit of shape here and there does give a little body to a garden without making it too stiff or too formal. It is Ascot week and, as you will be well aware, that is the week to cut the box. As you may surmise, our gardening year is organised around such important events from the Chelsea chop in May to box at Ascot time and I’m sure there are others but it is the Head Gardener who keeps such important things in mind; they pass me by until I am informed and this week was the week to cut the box and all is now done except for one little piece under a crab-apple tree and we are going to leave that until such time as the Spotted Flycatchers which have nested on top of a garden light has moved along with their chicks – they are very, very easily disturbed and we are reluctant to be the cause of the loss of a brood. That bit of box can wait!
Meanwhile, elsewhere in the garden:
And some plants in flower today: