The Sister has a wonderful garden. It’s awash with colour and raspberries. It’s full of interesting quirks: Planting, statues, places to sit, bee hives and fruiting trees.
We enjoy a stroll. She tells me what she’s been up to in the garden and I throw out the odd comment. “That’s nice. I like that,” I say encouragingly.
“That’s a lump of concrete I dug up.”
I’m not deterred from commenting on her efforts even though I seldom have quite enough information to make an informed comment.
“That’s interesting. Are those a couple of stone lions standing guard to the artichokes?”
“that’s the legs to the garden bench.”
She’s only laughed once when I asked “what is that? Some kind of sculpture?”
“It’s a plant and it’s dead.”
The Sisters’ garden is a place we sit and drink tea and blather together. She’s quite accomplished at blathering as well as gardening, and she makes a decent cup of tea.
After she’d made the tea and while she was blathering I began to consider the beautiful wave of pale grey blue under her garden table. What a good idea to let the grass grow and enjoy the impromptu wave of blue flowers.
“I really like what you’ve done under the table,” I said.
“Thanks,” she said. “It’s a work in progress. I just haven’t got round to finishing it”.
“You don’t need to do anything. It looks great, and it means you don’t have to move the table to cut the grass.”
“Of course I move the table to cut the grass.”
Generally, it’s best to stop digging if you feel yourself sliding into a hole. I shut up and had to consider the possibly that I had made an assumption too far. A moment of reflection would surely reveal a route to discovering the mystery of the blue grass under the table, without making myself look a total idiot.
After a bit more tea and a lot more blathering I asked her how she did it.
“It’s modelled on a polystyrene manikin I got from the dump.”
How she got from a polystyrene manikin to a mist of blue flowers under the table was a bit of a mystery. We were looking at the same thing and saw two different scenes. We were talking at cross purposes. I gave up. “What is that under the table?”
When the nights were dark, the Sister had started to make a sculpture out of chicken wire. She had used the polystyrene manikin as her template. The gentle wave of blue was, her abandoned chicken wire sculpture of a female torso, who now lay recumbent under the garden table, rocking about in the breeze.
A closer inspection revealed that rust had set in to her work of art. The polystyrene manikin, had been mauled by dogs and lay mortally wounded on its side. The Sisters’ planting is clever but she had never considered the possibility of letting the grass grow under the table.
Next year, on the first decent day, when we’re eating our lunch outside, busy scratching and slapping our ankles between bites of food and the irritating jaw of insects, the sister may explain that it was my idea to let the grass grow, but obviously not a good one.
The Sisters’ garden is a triumph. She knows a considerable amount about gardening. I know very little about it and that’s reflected in the endless varieties of geraniums that have found a spot to flourish in my own patch.
The Sisters’ garden may be the gold standard of gardens, but at least mine is not littered with bodies masquerading as clever planting.