by David G. Thorne
The mowing season is well and truly upon us, and Hexhamite again turns his attention to giving the lawns their regular paring down. Nothing is more therapeutic than putting the old motor-mower through her paces on a fine day. A well manicured bit of turf does wonders to soothe a choleric brain.
As the MowMaster 5000 trundled around the park west of the château, the heady aroma of two-stroke and grass clippings tickled my nostrils as the early afternoon sun beat gently on my brow. Birds chirruped. My mind sauntered to thoughts of warm beer and cricket on the village green. Perhaps the vicar could be persuaded to bowl a few overs. The district nurse on her sit-up-and- beg velocipede might stop to cast an appraising eye over the gentlemen decked out in their best flannels. Then back to the clubhouse for cucumber sandwiches followed by strawberries and cream.
Thunk! With a pained grunt the pasture chopper shuddered to a halt and the engine cut out. On investigation it transpired that the blade had sliced into a section of wrought iron railing poking out of the sod. Several minutes of excavation with a turf cutter revealed the aforementioned railing to be attached to a flagstone path buried 6 inches beneath the grama.
What kind of muttonhead would lay turf over paving slabs? Surely only a complete ninny would consider such an act of doltishness? Actually my prized turf was laid by a “professional” subcontracted by the same posse of cowboys responsible for erecting my homestead.
Is there no regulation of subcontractors? No gilded certificate which confirms that an artisan is vaguely qualified? Apparently the only requirement for proclaiming oneself a Landscape Gardner is possession of a shovel and a van emblazoned with a logo to that effect. Some of the more enterprising fellows may stretch to a petrol mower with which to scalp your verdant patch. Many are simply scheming dole wallahs aiming to score a few bob to supplement their subsistence handouts with promises to lay what is euphemistically termed “meadow turf”. This means that they have stopped by the side of the road and torn up a few strips of Old Macdonald’s best grazing, which they will happily throw down on your rock scattered plot.
When I was seven years old, I managed to accidentally split open the head of a school chum using a hammer. I do not however, lay claim to being a brain surgeon! I own a leather biker jacket, but I do not believe I am a MotoGP champion. I possess a set of socket spanners still I pay a trained mechanic to service my car. Yet armies of itinerant pikies who don’t know a dandelion from a dachshund are roaming the countryside claiming to be professional garden architects and arborists.
Astonishingly these unskilled lawn rangers are employed by building contractors throughout the land to cover up the rubble strewn landfill that will soon become your garden. Alan Titchmarsh they are not.