Sunday, March 25, 2012

We’re back. Good weather. We had a good time and got some gardening done. Tragedy struck.

We vaguely arranged, at the end of last summer, to let a neighbour put her two ponies in our unused paddock. We assumed – most fatal of Famous Last Words – that she would get in touch in the spring to discuss arrangements. She didn’t. There they were. They have eaten (it is the sort of thing horses do) our pinus sylvestris aurea, our Golden Pine, a Golden Wedding present from our four children.

Here it is, on the day we were given it, Games Day, ’07. (The actual anniversary was three or four days later.) There never has been such an assembly, or such a day. My husband’s sister, who died a year ago, is the figure in prophetic black towards the right. I am holding the Glenisla Shield, which I won for Sam the Ram. Rachel Miles of Beijing, in the front row, has the Mandy Duncan Cup, for the best entry in the children’s sections. And my husband is holding the tree.

Here it is in ’10. Its photograph from last year is a bit boring, lacking a human being. It was just beginning to settle thoroughly down, and had much enjoyed the mild winter we’ve just had. I wish I had photographed it when we were there in February.

There remains perhaps a foot of trunk, rather barked. My husband says there is no hope of regeneration but of course we will leave it in place this season. I’d settle for anything, however bizarrely shaped.

These things happen. My husband is philosophical. We will replace it, the new tree will grow. I’m not sure I want to replace it. It was a living link with that happy day. It was  the last tree my husband will ever plant with his own hands. It can’t be replaced.

There are a couple of other things we had been thinking of – a pinus bungeana, for instance, which the Chinese plant around temples. And there’s something whose name I forget, with beautiful bark, just inside the near gate of the Botanic Gardens. Maybe one or the other of those, for the spot? We’ll see.

I got more gardening done than I would have thought possible for a single day. My wild garlic has come up! I weeded the revenants – rhubarb, sorrel, Good King Henry. I flung compost and well-rotted manure about, better late than never. I put the support up for the peas. I moved the vegetable cage to its 2012 spot. I turned over some soil. There is no sign of the globe artichokes or the sea kale, but there is no sign of the Jerusalem artichokes yet either (no relation), and they are unstoppable.

Not many Welsh bunching onions have come back. There is an excellent turn-out, however, from the walking onions I put in last year from a very unlikely source – was it Finland? – via eBay. I think it may be time to give up seed-planting here and order some Welsh onion plants. They should be as indefatigable as chives.

As for knitting, the Japanese shirt has regressed somewhat. I had put in the second buttonhole last time, and there was a mysterious indentation in the selvedge at that point. There isn’t going to be any other edging in which it could be fudged, so I decided to rip. (“When in doubt, take it out.") The buttonhole has been replaced, the edge is straight, but I haven’t knit back quite to the previous point.

Here, I have calculated the new slope for the v-neck – decrease every three rows, involving therefore the dread p2togtbl. It’s not really that bad, and things are going smoothly. I am knitting furiously, hoping to finish before the package arrives from Knit Purl so that I can do some more sock-knitting. 


  1. Oh I am so sorry about the tree - it is horrid losing a tree you love at any time, but even worse when it has special memories.

  2. Ruth in Ottawa2:56 PM

    What a shame about your poor tree. Plant something fast-growing in its stead! Jean, have you tried ssp in place of the p2togtbl? I find it easier - wyif, slip 2 st as if to knit, replace these on the left hand needle and then p2togtbl. The stitches will be twisted and it's easier to poke the right hand needle through them in this position.

  3. I cried when I read this post. It has been a truly awful week and I have held together until now. I am so sorry you lost the tree, but am glad you have so many wonderful memories of that day to hold dear.

  4. So sorry to hear about the tree, but I've know trees come back from worse, you may get a pleasant surprise. It certainly sounds as if, tree aside, you had a good day :D

  5. =Tamar5:56 AM

    If the ponies are no longer there, I'd recommend putting a strong fence around it... it's early spring, and it has roots that had begun to settle in. It may be able to sprout again.

    Congratulations on successfully fixing the buttonhole.

  6. Sarah JS4:43 PM

    So sorry to read about the tree.