I think I need to build up a routine of life, a framework on which creativity can grow. I am feeling, what? I don’t know really. I am depressed, feeling doesn’t seem to come into it very much.

Yesterday I finished cutting the hedge. It’s been a couple of weeks since I started I think. Now that I have effectively stopped swimming, my arm muscles are not as strong as they used to be, and swinging a petrol driven trimmer is actually quite hard work. I did finish the cherry tree hedge yesterday, but I really had to push through shaky weak muscles towards the end. Did I want to cut the hedge? Not particularly. I can live with an untidy hedge, but my wife can’t. It is something to do with making the house welcoming and relaxing. To be honest (I use that phrase without thinking, but why? There’s something to write about).

I guess my point of view is that the hedge does need to be trimmed because if left unchecked, the barrier would grow to 10 metres tall and totally dominate the garden. Access to sunshine, when it comes, is important to me. Blue skies and the warmth, they almost seem to create life, though water is fundamental if I think on solar system scale. Sunshine allows all sorts of plants to grow, in all sorts of colours and that variety and pace of life is also important to me.

My favourite plant from my childhood has always been the bog standard hardy fuchsia magellanica. It grew near our front door and always produced these long arching red stems covered in small green leaves and red and violet flowers which in turn were beloved by bees. In my mind, the bees I remember were honey bees, there seemed to be a lot more of them about when I was a kid. It is a common plant in Scotland too, well in the suburbs anyway, but it isn’t found in my garden, not yet anyway. The bizarre thing, I find, is that I cannot find this plant in garden centres anymore. They do list hardy fuchsias, but not this common one, they tend to be thicker stemmed and larger flower ones, but these don’t do so well in Scotland, their hardiness seems to fail after a few years up here. I could take cuttings, semi-hardwood is advised as best, but I never had any luck in the past; perhaps it is time to try again.

This morning when I look at the hedge I do get a sense of satisfaction. I’m not sure it is a job well done, but done it is. It is not as tidy as I would like, and a part of me wishes next door would let me go round and finish trimming the other side to get rid of those long out of reach bits. Another part of me acknowledges that I wouldn’t have been able to swing the trimmer much more. It’s isn’t that next door don’t allow us into their garden, it is just that they get visibly upset when we do and it seems that we are mentally torturing them. It is not in our nature to upset them (I think I can speak for both my wife and I there).

I am aware though that there is more hedge to trim. It isn’t so pressing, but the lleylandii needs to be done as well, and I really dislike doing that one. Whereas yesterday the worse that happened to me was getting touched by stinging nettles on my bare legs (looking back I guess I could have worn trousers, but that doesn’t enter my consciousness this time of year), the fast growing evergreen hedge causes multiple abrasions on my arms which are really rather sore later. The hedge is so heavy too, and less forgiving. If I cut it too short, it will go permanently brown, which looks horrible and I guess is a continuous judgement on my gardening skills. I do wear a long sleeve shirt by the way, but somehow my arms still get damaged. I can’t wait to remove that hedge, but the neighbour that side visibly and verbally hates us. Most of the time we ignore each other, but very occasionally something happens for the man to snarl and talk aggressively towards me. The last time was when their potato delivery van blocked our driveway and I asked the driver if he was going to be long. Next door’s house has been up for sale for nearly ten years, I will celebrate when they move, but I also fear that the next people may be even worse.

I thought I was going to write about drive and motivation this morning, but it seems to have turned into the challenges of cutting hedges. I am just glad that I have written something, I can take pleasure in that too.

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