The Magnificence Project 03/07/17 – 07/07/17

Monday 3 July 2017


Digging in this garden smells like summer 1644. Iron, flint and sweat – civil war. Trowels have no place. My New Model Armory is a solid steel trenching shovel and a demolition bar. I’m smashing holes into the Chilterns for Australian tree ferns. We are creating a Triassic Garden with plants that are anachronistic and odd. A place for children to lose themselves and where, eventually, plastic pterodactyls will swoop between fronds on hidden wires.


Tuesday 4 July 2017


Lawn cutting day. The early morning is for jobs too small for the greenhouse calendar. I chase alkanet from under the skirts of a day-lily and use posts and hosepipe to corset an obese sedum.


Once the dew has lifted the machines come out for stimming, scarification and stripes.


Wednesday 5 July 2017

More grass titivation. Edges are trimmed and fertilizers applied. Here the lawns are overwatered and we need a good levels of nitrogen to keep red thread (horticultural athletes foot) at bay.


In the evening my Dad makes a three our round trip to help me lay footings in the garden of our rented house. This is a Victorian worker’s cottage, in constant gardening for over a century, so I dig past the cement relics of dead men’s projects and think about who might be cursing me and my new concrete slab in fifty or a 100 years’ time.


Thursday 6 July 2017


In the Garden in the Woods. I cut hedges all day in the blazing heat while the sun and petrol fumes turn my head into a pressure cooker. In the mid-afternoon I bend to scoop a pile of trimmings and impale my face on a broken rake handle.


The raw gash leaks slowly and steadily, one-part blood to one-part sweat, until it’s time for home and an exhausted flop onto the sofa.


Friday 7 July 2017


Morning back at the Garden in the Woods. I win a race against the ascending sun and clear a large area of bracken before being caught by the beams.


Afternoon and another cut for the croquet lawn, dolling it up in stripes for a tarty weekend. We finish the week with chainsaws and wood chippers, reducing a yew hedge by half and inviting a view of copper beech and dry, yellow hills into the garden.