Losing battles


The grand copper beech drops leaves in it’s own time. The tree undresses leisurely from the outside in. The outer layers tumble in their thousands throughout October leaving end of season bruised green underwear protecting the gnarled modesty of this multi centenarian. The senescent folioles dance their crispy twisters as my yellow plastic tines attempt to out manoeuvre these restless sprites, herding them in to the slumber of numbers. A gentle gust fails to wake my mountain, but after the gust has passed-just as the light we see from stars has long since ceased to shine-hundreds of new recruits rain down. They gather in the shades of my tan leather boots, from the saturated sepia welt to the original orange upper.

Just as there was last year, there will come a day when the tree is naked and there is no more dancing with the leaves.

When planting bulbs I am reminded of Anna Pavord’s inference that gardening makes you an optimist. She argues that through the process, you realise that it is not the present that is important, but the future and your gifts to it.

My gifts were already wrapped in translucent flaking bronze skins. With a fork inserted horizontally into the turf, I levered up and peeled back, great sheets of an entire layer of life. Below the root zone of the sod, knotted pink worms have been resting out the dry end of the summer. 75kg’s of Narcissus ‘Mount Hood’ now lie with shiny black chrysalis. Waiting.