I want to ride to the ridge where the west commences, Gaze at the moon until I lose my senses, I Can't look at cobbles and I can't stand fences - Don't fence me in
Finally the fence is finished... almost, we are one trellis piece short due to a miscalculation by the Landscapers and it is now on order. When the Bedsock first caught sight of the fenced in garden he uttered one word 'Colditz'. The fences aren't much taller than the neighbours original ones but because they were on the other side of our (now removed) 4ft high walls it gave the garden a feeling of being wider and more open. After a few days we have already become used to the height and when the fences have weathered a bit they should lose their initial brightness and fade into the background. They will also provide a new challenge finding the right climbers to soften them.
We have spent the weekend shovelling the rubble-filled top layer of the small borders into my new purple and green plastic trugs and transporting it through the house to fill the already mountainous skip, returning back with trugs filled with new lovely compost, half a ton of Premium Blend from Brighton's Compost Co-op. Astonishing how such a small growing space has absorbed so much compost.
The plants which were removed from the borders months ago have been languishing in pots and watering them in this dry, hot, period has been a huge task in itself. Happily the 'Matthew Wilson' caryopteris* has survived and is now back in position, one of the surviving 'Cleve West' lupins is now thrusting up a flowering spike. It has come true to colour from the seeds I harvested from my original Lupinus Masterpiece two years ago. Out of the original Cleve West babies**, five have survived in pots but look a bit mildewed and one is now living up a mountain in France where it is about to reveal its true (or not true) colours. Fascinating though the Cleve West lupin experience has been, they have honestly been more trouble than they are worth and if they don't flower this year they are off to the dump. Two heucheras have made it through - they are happy but I am less so. The pretty peach flambé 'd colours of spring are scorched, their bleached, faded and crispy leaves like old-lady knickers washed in with a red sock.
Overall both the garden and I have survived the onslaught. Despite the fact Landscapers No.2 were very well mannered and hard working I was glad to see the last of them and get my house and garden back. Although I had referred to one (with a certain amount of poetic licence) as a BradPittalike, the Bedsock, in a rather snitty manner, suggested he looked more like Jason Donovan (hopefully from Neighbours days rather than when he was Celebing in the Jungle). Whatever... they have done a very good job as far as I can see...
..and this is where the bad news starts.. as far as I could see was just my side of the fence.
The day after the Fencers left I was wandering peacefully around the garden, tidying bits and pieces and planning the weekends action, when a slightly querulous whine came over the fence from the elderly man next door "Have they gone... because they've left my side a real mess..". My heart totally sank. The neighbours on both sides had suggested that we get rid of their ageing fences and use our new fence as the boundary. It was with some reluctance I agreed to this as we had already been left with the responsibility and expense of removing the dangerously crumbling boundary walls and didn't want to get involved with 'matters on their side of our new fence'. However, as it was going to leave the boundaries looking much neater and as Landscapers No.2 said they could easily remove the old fences and it would make their job easier, we agreed. So we paid for the removal and clearance of the old walls and fences on both sides (all of which was taken through our house so as not to disturb the neighbours too much) and the installation of an expensive and robust brand new fence. This was our choice and we didn't feel we could ask either lot of neighbours for a contribution as they are all elderly and relatively impecunious.
Before I can sort out the topside neighbours problems the doorbell goes and it is the rather odd old lady from next door lowerside. "Are your builders going to put a fence panel in over the bit of wall still extending from my house because it looks a mess?" The answer to this is no - the new fence starts at the end of a 6ft high, 4ft long wall extending from the house which on our side is rendered and painted white. I had warned her that removing the decaying fence panel on her side as requested would leave an unsightly mess of this wall as she has never maintained her side of it. Unfortunately she appears not to have taken this on board and was clearly expecting me to provide a panel to cover it despite the fact it will not be in my garden and is of no benefit to me to do so. I stay calm and get rid of her and then go and lie on the bed and cry for a few hours.We have forked out £5000 in labour and materials plus all the upset and aggro and both neighbours have benefited from a free new fence - I wasn't expecting gratitude but I wasn't expecting hassle either.
Because I am about to have a nasty little operation on my lip, the thought of which has been stressing me for months and leaving me in a state of permanent anxiety, I cannot cope with worrying about the neighbours. The Bedsock and I spend some of our precious weekend, when we had hoped to sort out our own garden, sorting out the old man next doors. I have told the lowerside neighbour that I will get Landscaper No.2. to fix a panel over her bit of bare wall when he comes to fix the last bit of trellis. We will pay for all this because it not worth having any bad feelings emanating from the neighbours who are in general pretty quiet and unproblematic. Nobody seems to care about our feelings but that is about par for the course - it is always me and the Bedsock against the world. Part of me wishes the 'Colditz' fences had been built even higher.