What a difference a day makes. I step out of work into a hot late-afternoon. I drop by my parents’ house and enjoy a wander around their garden.
They’ve been here twenty-one summers, and have built their garden, and house, from scratch. It sits on the side of a hill overlooking open countryside. My mother is ‘head gardener’, and my father ‘grounds man’. For most of the year they are in the garden, all day, most days. They are both nearly 80.
My mother’s style is her own, a mixture of nostalgic country girl aesthetics and inventive frugality. It’s ‘make do and mend’ and ‘devil may care’. She mostly ‘lets things go’, tumbling and rambling, but wayward plants are interspersed with evidence of her disciplinary ‘slash and burn’ policy. Useful bits of old string, plastic bottle cloches and rusty sieves are part and parcel of the landscape. The whole is given a sense of order by my dad’s rigorous Border Control. Lawn maintenance, trimming hedges, replacing spent fruit trees, and mending paths and fences.
Sometimes there’s a ruffling of feathers when one dares meddle in the other’s territory. But altogether it embodies the unique irreplaceable charm and peace that is my ‘mum and dad’.