We’ve added a new task to our list of winter maintenance jobs: cutting the hedge. After the struggle to find an evergreen shrub which would tolerate our sandy soil and windy climate we have finally succeeded in growing a wind break. Unfortunately we have become victims of our own success and have reached the stage where the great hedge has to be trimmed. In fact we probably should have started last year but somehow managed to convince ourselves that when it reached 3m it would stop growing.
So in autumn we had to accept that we had a problem and the Head Gardener began the search for the biggest hedge cutter he could lift.
In other parts of the kingdom the sensible solution would be to find a neighbour with a tractor and flail trimmer – however, because there are no hedges to cut here, there is not a flail cutter to be found on the island. Eventually a suitable machine was located from a supplier, who was prepared to arrange carriage to islands on the edge of darkness, and enough cash was found from the piggy bank, coat pockets, old handbags and other unlikely places to make the purchase and include a new chain for the chainsaw too!
On a suitably calm day, with the Head Gardener’s face lit by a grin that would not disgrace the Cheshire cat, the cutting of the great hedge began. Reality dawned rapidly – the hedge was too tall and too wide.
The word topiary or the term sculpted pruning or cloud cutting are guaranteed to give the Head Gardener apoplexy accompanied by expressions of derision. So he was not happy when he realised that his vision of a neatly trimmed hedge with parallel sides and a flat top was transformed into something that resembled a storm cloud with a Mohican crest.
As a very experienced apprentice I knew that when the muttering began that it was wise to quietly take myself off to the other end of the garden and start picking up the hedge cuttings. I think the Cheshire came with me.
Once again the olearia hedge has produced a garden dilemma. Do we get out the loppers and reduce the height; do something more brutal and reduced the width or wait for the Head Gardener’s new plan? I suspect the severe gales and storm force winds forecast for next week may concentrate the mind.