Enabling works for my 52 week building project on the house have begun. I have been on the roof having a last look before scaffolding poles and polythene sheeting make it inaccessible. For my records I have photos of the lovely view across Bembridge Harbour to see me through the year and I have recorded the quirky chaos of leaky lead, asbestos and slate. Inside the house, there are stacks of orderly and rather aesthetically arranged tools and materials. This bodes well. The modern fittings have gone, and trees and shrubs are imprisoned for the year in safety fencing. My job is to remove the roundel of turf in the rose garden to create a builders store and I am failing so far as it is taking far longer than we thought for Trevor to move 150 tonnes of top soil to the kitchen garden. We’ll push that one on another week.
The builder and I are on jolly, chatty terms. Will we still be so after 52 weeks (let’s say 62, to avoid disappointment)? I bet he expects me to be ‘in absentia’, not lurking in the shrubbery, as I tend to be. I am sure we will have our moments of disagreement, but he is fastidious and thorough and I can’t argue with that.
Despite my desire to get on, it’s a weird feeling, letting go of the house to third parties. I am so accustomed to my frequent, even daily visits. I like to see where the sunlight comes in and flap fabric samples around the rooms in the changing light. I don’t think this behaviour will be welcomed by workmen. But I find that when life feels weird, internet shopping is a great solace. So this week I have bought:
For the top lawn: 10 mature espalier lime trees (see ‘Old Limes for a New Feature’).
For the kitchen garden: 150 tonnes of top soil, a medlar tree and a large walnut.
For the Olivers site: the first of several Ulmus dodoens (elms, for the White Letter Hairstreak Butterflies, I hope), 4000 Narcissus pseudonarcissus ( native, specie daffodils, pale in colour, of the type immortalised by Wordworth), 2000 Narcissus conspicuous (fragile looking, hoop- petticoat narcissus).
For the White Garden: 1000 Anenome nemerosa ( another native plant and white of course) and 500 of the subtle greeny white, multi- headed Tulipa turkestanica.
The pheasants will probably eat the bulbs. If they had sense, they would be mindful that it is the shooting season, but happily for them, my record on vermin control is poor. Going back to my Jar of Moles two blogs ago, I now know, thanks to John Lewis- Sempel’s inspiring book ‘The Running Hare’, that moles only come to lawns that are well aerated and full of worms. At last, I have something right. My brown silky friends are here to stay, just perhaps nudged out of the kitchen garden with a solar mole deterent. I’ll let you know how that goes.