I am disappointed by my own emotions, or rather lack of them, as we prepare to move house. With two weeks to go before we leave Saling, after 42 years, I should surely be feeling waves of reluctance and nostalgia. I should be walking round the garden saying goodbye to my trees before tearing myself tearfully away.
We are too busy, though, for this kind of sentiment. Too busy sorting papers, choosing books, filleting files, filling boxes, filling skips, making calculations about furniture and pictures – will they fit into our new seriously smaller house? And the weather, with the exception of one perfect sunny day, has been cold and sullen. There are ragged brown leaves and the pale skeletons of old cow parsley caught in the bushes and blowing among the snowdrops. There is
the east winds of March bringing dust to the fields they bring another downpour. None of the farmers’ fields in sight have been drilled at all, or even harrowed, and some not ploughed.
The water table is at ground level, or frequently higher. The walled garden is almost the only place where you walk on land rather than slopping through surface water. The duckpond is brimming fuller than at any time in 42 years and the ledge or towpath that marks high water in the moat has been submerged for weeks. Instead of
scum on the ponds where the carp are comatose. A few tits peck at a greaseball; agitated moorhen scoot about; the cat prowls furtively ……… spring is on hold.
I expect I’m in the denial stage, with grieving yet to come. But grieving would be foolish, and unnecessary. Our successors have been visiting the garden almost every day since we agreed the sale. What I see as the slightly tired result of plans made 30 or 40 years ago they see as a great opportunity. And they are right. Nobody told me when I planned and planted that a garden really only lasts in glory (if it ever achieves it) for a generation or so. At 25 it begins to look tired; at 30 it needs serious replanting, and at 40 it is time to be radical.
Besides we have work to do where we are going – to a typical London garden 18 feet by 55, plus a little paved front yard, where every square inch, every bulb, will count. Weary London soil will need refreshing, old bushes will need to be dug out, smothering ivy cut off walls. And I plan a tiny greenhouse.
A new project is better than an old one; that’s the way I see it.