Saturday, 11 April 2015

The Week


Where do the weeks go?

The hours have been turned into minutes, the days into blips.
My life has been hijacked by a ravenous time-eating Bloom-machine.
Somehow, it's almost Sunday again.
But, before I go into another tail-spin, I need to remind myself that I have achieved a good bit in this whirlwind week.

Last Sunday was Easter Day. I worked all day, paperwork - planting - paperwork - planting. At least the sun shone and it was balmy and spring-like, and we did stop in the evening. My friend DodoWoman had invited us for supper. It was delicious - and wonderful to switch off for a few hours.

Monday was,  of course, a bank holiday. Officially that is - there are no bank holidays in this house at the moment, nor will there be for the foreseeable future!
The sun shone as we piled the dogs into the car, hitched on the little trailer and headed out.
Not on a glorious picnic, but plant-hunting.

Eddie Walsh, the owner of Lissadell House, had kindly invited me to go and dig up some of the candelabra primulas that were bred there over a hundred years ago. I'd asked him if I could - they will be a perfect addition to my Yeats garden.
It couldn't have been a nicer day and the Model Dogs were thrilled to be going on an adventure.
(Rather meanly, we hadn't shown them the leads, forks or gardening gloves.) 

The sea at Lissadell

King's Mountain behind the beach at Lissadell. SuperModel chasing the seagulls

The ModelDogs practising good behaviour

Happy Days!
It was heaven at Lissadell. The sun shone and the sea sparkled like molten silver through the bare trees.
The Models gambolled on the beach (you have to gambol in Spring) and lay in the sea, and grinned inanely, but all too soon they were on their leads being told to behave themselves as Eddie and Constance welcomed us, and took us to the primula-dotted woods. Thank heavens - moments later, a couple of deer went running through the trees and Model Dog nearly took my hand off at the wrist as she leapt to the chase - she is a deer-hound cross, after all. I just managed to hang on to her and (to their chagrin) they both stayed on leads while I dug.

We took lots of photos while we were at it. The In-Charge is going to draw the house, with iconic Benbulben to one side, to make a print for my Yeats garden. Yeats and Lissadell are a bit like strawberries and cream, they kind of go together.

Lissadell and Benbulben (and SuperModel, of course)

But we didn't linger very long - we had more calls to make, so we bundled the Models and my two buckets of primulas back into the car, and headed off to Brendan's garden.
What was left of Brendan's garden that is.
The dear man has dug most of it up for me, and plants in every container known to man (and several heretofore unknown) confronted me inside his gates. I knew at first glance that our small trailer wasn't going to cut the mustard with that lot, and in any case, Brendan wasn't there.

After watering a few things that weren't sure if they were enjoying the heatwave or not, we headed off to Nazareth House to fill the trailer with dead leaves.
They must have thought I was balmy when I asked if it was OK. I mean, who waltzes in and offers to sweep up your dead leaves and take them away?
We used our tarpaulin like a giant bag, filled the trailer and headed home.
By then, the Models had forgotten the beach at Lissadell and were less than impressed with their day out.

The silent road to Dublin

On Wednesday, we rose in the dark and headed out into a world devoid of sound and people.
It was cold in the blue of the morning. Fog drifted like milky smoke in the fields, turning dawn into a mystical sacrament, the sun a distant red god veiled in the sky, the bare trees spreading their arms in hushed worship.
We passed unseen through their morning ritual.

Three hours later, when we got to Dublin, it was just another busy day, our dawn flight faded with the mist.
I spent the day at Bord Bia, meeting other garden designers; the People who Make Bloom Happen; the Health and Safety officers; the PR team; the tea ladies...
It was a good day - tiring but very informative. They were all human, and nice, enthusiastic and helpful. It made my project seem - paradoxically - more manageable but also more terrifying. It was good to meet people for whom this is challenging but routine, but it also reinforced the ticking clock deadlines, the reality of having to translate my vision into a spectacle for many, many eyes.
We drove home watching the sun - back to a deep, fiery red ball - falling through a milky, misting sky. In the real, real world, nothing had changed. The day had just been handful of insubstantial hours.

Friday was the launch of the Yeats Day celebrations.
I was invited to go and mix with the great and the good, and afterwards I had lunch with Lucy.

Later we inspected my beech tree which had been delivered to her yard in our absence. We stood and looked at it in dismay. It was not what either of us was expecting, and it certainly was not going to fit the bill.
One of her chaps joined us, on his way home for the weekend. The two of them stood looking at it, comparing it with several beeches they had planted in the last while.
Minutes later I found myself being taken to look at some of those vastly superior specimens.
'Shall we?' said Lucy.
'We could,' he replied.
The two other lads, who'd just gone home were called back. The digger was dug out of the shed, the truck was brought to the site. Within what seemed like minutes a tree had been lifted from the ground, my poor, unsuitable and unloved specimen had been put into the hole (where it can quietly grow into itself) and the new tree was being loaded onto the truck.

Lucy and her team

And, bless them all, instead of going home, they then drove it, and the other few trees that had arrived that morning, out to Jack's and spent I don't know how long potting them up.
Some people are just totally wonderful.

Whiskey time again.
Wholly inadequate.

And today is Saturday. The week has turned full circle faster than light.
On Saturdays, lots of people chill out, watch sport, put their feet up.
That would be nice. Not the sport, but the feet up bit.
But Brendan's garden was calling and - yet again - Jack came up trumps.
With his trailer and Dutch trolleys, he drove me out to Calry where Brendan was waiting, bless him.
Sunshine, hail and a chilly breeze notwithstanding, we loaded - and loaded - and loaded.
Now Brendan's garden is in my yard, all six trolleys-full, not to mention bags, trays, tubs, fridge doors (he's an inventive chap, Brendan), buckets and basins.

Jack, the ModelDogs and Brendan's garden 

I call it 'my garden at Bloom'.
It isn't my garden at all.
It is a garden being created by a tireless, amazing, generous team of fabulous people.
(And two dogs.)



  1. I KNOW the garden will be just perfect. Love reading your adventures about getting it ready. It might just tempt me to brave the crowds at Bloom. Good luck and keep up the good work..

  2. Thank you Mairead! If you do come - please DO come! - to Bloom, make sure you come and say hello!


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