Our sweet neighbour came over this morning to talk about our cherry tree. The fact is that it deprives her vegetable patch of sunlight and we had not been aware of this. When the tree first came to us as a wedding present it was a delicate and slender little thing that for many years gave only a handful of cherries. It was hard to get any of them because either the deer or the birds got there first, but I remember the first time I ate one from the tree – the shock of the real cherry substance in my mouth, intense and vital, announcing itself. Even the best of the shop-bought ones had been a shadow of this. Now the tree has grown large and stocky, there is nothing to be done but we have to cut it down so that our neighbour can get the light she needs. I am seeing if there might be a way of grafting a piece of it, to grow elsewhere, there are people here who know about trees.
Me, I never had green fingers, was brought up mainly in a second floor flat so never learned about gardening. In the garden of my first marriage (me being very young), we dug the earth and found all kinds of things buried in it – rusting bicycle parts, broken pottery, a whole tea set of perfectly useable cups with a sunflower motif. We wanted to make the ground good but didn’t know what to do, bought grass seed but it was the wrong kind, hard and spiky, someone called it cattle grass, and that summer was one of the hottest ever and the earth cracked, leaving fissures like open wounds. People said I was lucky to have a garden and that I should look after it and plant things, so I dug a hole in the middle and filled it with daffodil bulbs. They came up in spring like a gold fountain, exuberant, not minding the ragged terrain, but I felt like a Martian who just happened to land on this planet with strange things hidden in the ground and the daffodils were, in any case, temporary guests – the sun came early that year to dry them and the earth was hard as concrete.
My garden here looks lovely, as it happens, but other people do the work in it, not me, and it is as close as one can get to a self-maintaining garden because this is what I asked for when we had it re-planned so as to accommodate the studio. A bit of mowing and weeding is all it asks. It is a little on the wild side to be sure but this, to my way of thinking, is all to the good.