It’s February again, which means that I am once more on a trawl through the internet in search of that particular superman who will swoop in and transform our garden into a place of splendour and delight. Actually, just reasonably tidy and garden-like would do; in other words, the absence of green mould coating the paved areas (patio is too grand a term in this garden’s case) and a grassed area which actually sports some grass instead of compacted mud and slime.
When we first moved here, thirteen years ago, I assumed that everyone on this estate had the same sort of problem, but actually, they don’t. We had the overhanging trees cut back to improve the light, increased the paved areas, took up some grass and put down gravel and spent a small fortune on plants, shrubs etc. which, instead of burgeoning into sturdy, mature bushes, as they do in all the other gardens, have consistently withered and died. The end result is that when I look at it, especially at this time of year when, granted, no garden looks its best, I can best describe my feeling as one of hopeless despair.
Keith, of course, has no such feelings. For him, a garden is merely a suitable place for a shed or, failing that, should be concreted over and painted green – his idea of a lawn without the need for mowing.
So this year, I decided that I was faced with a number of possible solutions:
1. Get someone in to take up the lawn, put in some decent soil and lay a new lawn
2. Also redo the gravelled area
3. Leave it as it is because the dogs will probably wreak their usual havoc anyway
4. Wait for Keith to fill up the remainder of the garden with more sheds.
The last option, I couldn’t bear the thought of and I wasn’t too keen on the third either, which leaves options one and two.
The first problem I always encounter on my search for gardeners, is a complete absence of anyone in the area willing to actually answer their phone or, having done that, commit to and honour the commitment to do the job required, hence this year, having decided in desperation to use the Freeindex service, which offers to find up to five people to contact you and quote for the job, I have ended up with quotes from people about fifteen miles away. I was even contacted by someone with a Scottish accent who gave me a quote by email, followed up half an hour later by a phone call. When I asked if he wouldn’t need to come and see the garden first, he said no and when I looked again at his email, I realised why. He was based in Bishop Auckland, 122 miles away. Now that’s what I call keen!
The first man I spoke to, other than the Scottish man, was one of those who makes frequent use of the old ‘sharp intake of breath.’ On learning about the heavy soil and poor drainage, he painted a worrying picture of excavators digging up tons of earth, installation of an extremely expensive drainage system, which probably wouldn’t work anyway, until I was tempted to check with him whether he thought he was on the line to one of the premier football clubs.
Number two came this morning, laughed at the job I had done of the gravelled area under the kitchen window, but otherwise, seemed to have a reasonable idea of what needed doing. Hopefully, his quote, when it arrives, will be equally reasonable.
Number three, who sounded laid back to the point of horizontal, said that, as he was out at present, he would ring ‘some time next week’ and arrange to come and look at the job.
Number four, a local whom I had tried unsuccessfully to contact during the week proved, once again, uncontactable.
Ah well, if I don’t get someone this time, I may just have to concrete the lot and let Keith build more sheds after all!