decline and endeavour

Hard times are coming if not already here but not for gardening concerns.  I feel like a wallflower at a prom, having just been let down by the fifth gardening outfit, mostly because they have not been taught in work or life how to decline gracefully. 

They can’t say “No.” 

I am a big girl.  I can stand rejection.  All they have to do is assess the viburnum, honeysuckle and winter broom (all in need of pruning), and the removal of the laurel and say “Sorry, too small for us.”  And I’d smile and try again elsewhere.  Instead of which they don’t return the call.  They don’t acknowledge those neat little email forms, telephone calls you can forget – they do.   In two cases, they come, look, estimate and go away promising contact.  Only never to be heard of more.   And dammit, these are the things I can’t do and as I remarked crisply to a friend, recognising limitation and asking for help

is one of the few signs I have of increasing maturity.  

And you don’t want to be labelled as a bothersome old thing,  so you wait.  And in waiting, your turn in the queue is not so much lost as denied. 

“Did I say I’d be in touch with you ?”   emailed Smartypants when I wrote to respectfully remind him of my small existence.  “Sorry spring is here, summer just round the corner and we’re fully booked.”  “So glad you have work for the summer” I wrote in reply.” Just hope you treat the rest of your clients with rather more courtesy” and spat bullets.

The garden is roughly 7 x 30 feet.  And staring out of the kitchen window towards the wall, there was much fluttering, eventually revealed as a pair of great tits who departed and a robin who stayed. 

Hanging on that wall is a battered dark green enamel jug, about 7 inches high, a pretty shape which I haven’t the heart to throw away.  Robin cased the joint and began collecting nesting materials.   I watched fascinated.  He worked very hard.  I looked up the symbolism of the robin online and left him to it.  

When I came back in, he brought his intended who was clearly heard to mutter something about en-suite and preferring a semi before swishing off.  He followed.  And I thought that was it. 

As twilight edged to dark,

I went out to look.   He was standing braced in the mouth of the jug, a tiny thing in a posture which clearly said “This is mine.”  I begged his pardon, softly, and retreated.  

I watched much more coming and going until I went out yesterday to do what Buns calls the messages.  I made the trip to a large Boots (a long way in every way from the Boots of my childhood), looked about, found what I wanted, stretched the arthritic knee and came home.

I’d planted the tulips Laura brought from Italy in my favourite pot, put it up on the wall and it was in pieces on the ground, not doing the cherished yellow rose (A Friend Indeed) Ginny had given me in the bigger planter directly beneath it any good at all.  I do hope the bird is safe, he was of course nowhere in sight.  I swept up and cleared, saved the tulips, did the best I could with the rose – another gardener is allegedly coming on Tuesday, don’t hold your breath.  I shall be explaining how carefully any work must be done round the jug, just in case Robin gets over his fear of the cat on the wall (?) or whatever it was that caused the almighty crash the terracotta falling from a height must have made.

It remains a thrill and a privilege to have seen the bird with spring feathers as bright as paint, the effort, the endeavour, the construction.   If there is one thing nature teaches us throughout its many manifestations, it is how many times you have to try …  only for whatever it is, not to work out – and then to have to try again.       


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