Yesterday I took advantage of the sunshine to spend some time in my garden. Newspaper on my knee, Sam the daft cat lying on his back next to me with is feet in the air, silently challenging me to a game of dodge-claw, just breathing in its peace and quiet. It made for a very nice contrast with the seismic upheavals shortly to afflict or rescue the country depending on how you view it.
I was reading about the county where I have the good fortune to live, and learned that not only have bits of it been designated Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty, with capital letters and everything, but that there are many gardens that are open to the public. Paying visitors apparently flock to them like sheep, I read, though presumably they behave with rather more decorum once there. It was at that point, with pleasing thoughts coalescing around the possibility of entrance fees and extortionate refreshment prices, that I put my paper down and looked about me.
Do people, I wondered, like weeds enough to be prepared to pay to look at them? It seemed unlikely, and the long line of people in my imagination, queuing at the front gate where Mrs J swapped paper tickets for plastic ten pound notes began to disappear like Marty McFly’s photographed parents.
I could clear the weeds out of the beds, I suppose, leaving only attractive, money-making flowers, but I’ve never been a fan of fiddly gardening. Weeding has always seemed to me a bit like unpicking the stitches on a priceless 17th century tapestry. You want a bed cleared completely? That I can do. Heavy lifting with a fork is my idea both of gardening and the meal that should follow. In fact my theory with most things is that if brute force isn’t working, then you’re not using enough of it.
But the lawn isn’t going to elicit gasps of wonder from the paying public either. Bits of it are currently sprouting like an adolescent’s beard, and while the sun has baked other bits to a light brown, looks-dead-to-me sort of colour, it does need a mow. That’s not so bad as weeding, but with my lawn it’s still a pain. The terrain is pretty flat for 3 or 4 metres, but then it dips down at such an angle that the only living things able to cling to it are grass and mountain goats.
Unfortunately I have got any of the latter to eat the former, so I have to dangle a mower over the edge and then haul it back up again at risk to all manner of lower back injuries.
Meeting Sam the cat’s unblinking stare I wondered whether, with all of our technological know-how, we might be able to modify grass using the genes that allow his fur to grow to a certain length and then stop so it doesn’t flop over his eyes. The look on his face told me it wasn’t really worth the effort. He licked his lips, stretched in the sunshine, and looked unashamedly cute. I wonder if people would pay to come and see him …