But I shall have got my money's worth out of their combined skill and strength in daylight hours, though, or they can whistle a duet for their supper. I need them to create some shape and form at the bottom half of the garden and create an access way into what we drolly refer to as The Nature Reserve.
Just past the shed door the wilderness garden begins
Drolly and accurately, as leaving that area to have its head has produced a ceanothus and a buddleia to be reckoned with (no longer mere flowering shrubs, they are trees) and round them are crinoline skirts of weigela, mexican orange blossom and philadelphus. Where once there was a boundary hedge there is now a twenty foot tall hawthorn tree and a wire (puppy-proof) fence interlaced with honeysuckle, dog roses and clematis.
In the days when we could get in, we would sit around this firepit and tell stories
Raspberry canes come up at any random points where the sun can pierce the forest canopy, and periwinkle, ivy and euphorbia carpet the rest. Of the stone-edged paths there is no sign. It has been left alone - neglected - to the point of becoming romantic, like a historic ruin, and wee small creatures love it. As do I.
Every year we have blackbirds, sparrows and dunnocks nesting there and coming down to feed off the seed we leave to encourage them. Above them, in the tall trees that mark the border with the school field, crows and wood pigeons make a home and impertinently help themselves to the food as well.
A visiting pigeon in 2010, when one could just squeeze through the gap behind
Over the years we have had squirrels, hedgehogs and especially frogs spending time with us. One visitor looked out of her bedroom window early one morning to see a fox on the lawn. The neighbourhood cats slink under the wrought iron side gate and head off in there with predatory stealth, so I guess not all the baby birds make it to adulthood. In the process they leave a scent trail that drives The Dog wild with fury when his nostrils catch it next time he is let out into the garden, and he dashes off with his nose to the ground, galumphing along and harrumphing in indignation.
In the farthest corner there is a small hill of solidly compacted spoil that has been there a decade and a half since a hole was excavated for a pond, which we call The Dog's Mound. He likes to stand on it and bark through the fence for the territorial hell of it, until we tell him to stop or else. Should he depart this life while we are still living here we will bury him in his mound and doubtless often wish he were still upon it, barking his handsome head off.
I'd like to get into our suburban jungle to have a look-see occasionally, though. At the moment a sturdy and immensely thorny rambling rose has choked off my last entrance point all summer. It is meant to be growing over a metal arch, but April was so good this year that it grew like Topsy in all directions and now another arch needs to be erected to support this new growth to give some structure to the wildness and an intrance into the interior. So I shall get the men togged up in jungle camouflage and hand them a machete each to hack their way into the heart of darkness. As it were. And when they are done, a doorway is opened and the wilderness for the meantime tamed I will hand them a beer, give them their dinner and try not to groan inwardly or moan outwardly when they talk of shiny things that go beep all the way through the meal.
They will, you know, because they can, when I let them.