Life sentence with hard labour?

I’m not sure where I went wrong, but I seem to have been the victim of a miscarriage of justice. I know that life isn’t fair and I didn’t expect my gardening career to be one of dainty peregrinations with some gentle dead heading; but why am I still shovelling hardcore or gravel, mixing cement, heaving rocks and barrowing soil from one part of the garden to another and back again? Alas it is all my own fault, first of all I married for better or worse  and unknowingly committed myself to a lifetime of projects and finally I chose to garden in one of the windiest places in the UK.

So when March comes around, it is time to order the gravel, hardcore, cement, fencing posts and screws and as soon as we get a hint of a couple of calm, dry days out comes the concrete mixer. Usually it is just the start of another project, but this year we had a few maintenance jobs to perform. First the fence at the end of the polytunnel had developed a serious list after being belted by 100+ mph winds. So it had to be dismantled, and rebuilt with extra posts set in 2 tons of concrete. A small warm-up exercise in preparation for tackling the hedge.

After we had cut the hedge in December we were debating as to whether we need to radically reduce its girth and my prophetic words were “the severe gales and storm force winds forecast for next week may concentrate the mind”. The mature section of the hedge withstood the gales, even though it lost most of its leaves, but some of the very young plants were torn out of the ground or blown almost horizontal.


Without the leaves it was easier to get into the hedge and reduced the overall height to about 4ft and radically cut-back some of the older branches. The width of the hedge was then reduced by about 3ft to enable it to be cut with the hedge trimmers.

This involved putting in a new fence leaving a 3ft wide strip along the drive to the cottage. My suggestion that this should become a grass verge or wild flower strip was greeted with derision and I was sent off to get the barrow and the shovel!


Some plants had to be removed and these were cut back almost to ground level and used to replace some of the young plants which had been blown away in the hedge by the polytunnel. I had been unable to cut through some of the bigger branches with the pruning saw, but Himself came to the rescue with the chainsaw! The result was not pretty and I was left wondering why I’d spent so much time with my careful trimming.

The great hedge is now rather a sorry sight, but it is shooting and in a few weeks will be clothed in new leaves and in October it will be time to cut it again

15 thoughts on “Life sentence with hard labour?

  1. GREAT POST! Lots of work but you will be rewarded later

    • Thank you. I don’t mind the hard work if I can focus on the end result and there is satisfaction at the end of a days labour, even if it is just repairing fences.

  2. Sounds like someone needs a hug…Time to rethink?

    • No there is a masochist form of enjoyment. Not short on hugs or encouragement – but a week in a spa maybe?

  3. Younger sis

    Patience, Christine, is not really a Morley family trait, but I think you have earned a rather large glass of wine (or 3) for your sterling efforts.
    As for Himself, can’t you find an indoor project for him to focus on…??!!
    Retirement seems like hard work and certainly busier than getting paid for a living. 🙂
    Look after your back, knees, shoulders….sanity…. XX

    • Ah the sleeping beauty awakes and brings words of encouragement from across the sea. Indoor projects are even worse as it usually involves wielding a paintbrush – less demanding but infintely boring.
      Retirement is what you make it and definitely more fun than a day job. My ageing joints are beyond redemption and I make no comment on my sanity, but I’m fit and happy so that will suffice. I couldn’t have a more beautiful environment in which to labour and shovelling is great for the waist-line.

  4. Hello Christine,
    Great to see that your energies are undimmed. Hugely impressive projects as always, and you may be interested to hear that during this afternoon’s cottage garden soc. trip to a local NGS garden where the owners had undertaken major tree planting in their meadow over the last 2 years, comments were made about the vision and scale of work undertaken. I parried with words to the effect that if they thought this was hard work, they should look at a blog that I follow ( yours) to find out what true gardening vision and hard labour is all about.
    And then I get home and read this latest posting…
    What I tend to call synchronicity, though you probably have a better word for it. Anyway, I thought you might be amused.
    Perhaps there should be a gardening in extremis award, in which case I reckon you’d be in the running for top prize!
    best wishes

    • Hello Julian, it is the hard labour that keeps me fit and my enthusiasm really flags even if my ageing joints occasionally demand a day off. Whatever the scale or type of gardening there is also seem hard work required, it’s just that we (like you) don’t do things on a small scale. Creating a garden is the aspiration to turn dreams into reality, in other words “you don’t get ought from nought”.

  5. My husband likes a concrete mixer and likes to use two tonnes of cement for a fence post. Its not especially windy here either! I like the idea of a wildflower strip if thats any consolation.

    • We’ve always “over-engineered” our building work and it has never failed us before, but then we didn’t have to cope with hurricanes!

  6. I’ve been told that the storms will only get worse… just saying!
    Seriously, your post made me feel quite exhausted from reading it – and it also made me feel somewhat guilty, because I have some structural projects that really need doing. If you ever feel that the mixer needs a holiday on the coast of Snowdonia, do feel free…!

    • It’s snowing and in between we have hail, but it’s not very windy – just another northern spring! I’m not shovelling today just pushing around a vacuum cleaner, on balance I prefer the shovelling.
      The mixer had a holiday in North Uist last year, I’d be delighted to send it to Snowdonia for a long vacation – can you collect?

  7. Having scraped a garden from a clay soil field on top of a hill at 850 feet above sea level, I hear your pain and frustration! But the rewards are infinite when we see our labours rewarded by growth both in plants and the garden we are creating. Some of us just have that in us that we want to create no matter the obstacles, be they weather or the scale of the job. I too put off the indoor jobs to be outside and would rather be doing the heavy outdoor jobs than wielding a paint brush 🙂

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.