"I agree", said the Sage

“I agree”, “You are right” and “I love you”. A wise husband will fall back regularly on one or all of those simple phrases which, if followed up with appropriate action, will help to ensure a happy woman.

I had another bright idea. I had spent the morning demolishing more dead and straggly undergrowth, while the chaps ferried barrowloads to the bonfire. I know, it would be good to shred it but there’s too much.

In the afternoon, the Sage went out to do a Good Deed and ventured out again to do some scything (in a flowerbed!) and cut back some more stuff. I was particularly happy to discover the little three-cornered bit at the back is a wonderful mini-wilderness, with prostrate ivy on the ground and peacefully shady elm saplings. Dutch elm beetles attack after a few years, so we don’t have elm trees any more, but the roots put forward new shoots. When I mentioned it to Al this evening, he knew all about it. He and the other children had played there throughout their childhood, but I never knew as it was hidden behind the lilac.

The original elm tree stump was there too, now completely dry and rotten. As I cut away some ivy, it started to powder away. I’m rather inclined to leave it. The Sage remembers climbing the tree as a child. He particularly remembers being too young to climb it – being 4 and 6 years younger than his siblings – and his brother dropping apple cores, known as ‘mineral deposits’ on his head.

When I had had enough, I looked around at the laurel hedge. Earlier this year, I cut it back from 12 or so feet high to stumps (this was the first outing of my lovely pruning saw). It has grown back to about 3 foot. I took shears and started to cut it level. Then I gazed at it again. And realised that it would never look good. It has been there for decades and been razed several times, only to grow rampantly again. Now it is, in places, about 8 foot deep and is a series of thickets rather than a hedge. Nothing grows successfully near it except ground elder and I have become so disheartened by the whole area that I tend to ignore it – hence the weeding by scythe.

The Sage came home. I asked him how he’d got on and we chatted for a bit and I started dinner preparations while he opened some cider – I’d already poured myself a glass of wine. Then I asked him if he’d come and give his opinion outside.

How would it be,” I asked him (and Al, who happened to be around) “if we got Alan in with his JCB and had all the laurel rooted out? We could clear the area, except for a few big shrubs, and take the lawn to the edge of the drive. I’ve always wished the lawn were bigger. It would mean we’ll actually have to mow it regularly, but we’d have an incentive.”

He thought about it. “I agree”, said the Sage. “I’ll ring Alan and see if he can come out soon.”

Earlier today, he said that he’s had a message from the brickmaking company to say they’ve got enough suitable bricks for us. He’s looked at lots and decided to go for new ones after all, but traditionally hand-made ones. He spoke vaguely about aging them – is he going to use the yoghurt and dung technique, I wonder?

9 comments on “"I agree", said the Sage

  1. Z

    And she should follow him too, Jen. Hand in hand.

    It is, Dave, but only if one means it. However, many people look first for the flaw and argue against a suggestion, instead of agreeing with the idea and then coming up with improvements.

  2. mike

    Yoghurt and dung?! Is that how it’s done? Goodness me.

    We’re looking for granite setts at the moment, to improve the look of the front of the cottage. There are some servicable new granite 4″ cubes at the local stone merchants, but we’re being advised that “everybody’s got them”, so we should go for the more weathered versions… which do, indeed, now you come to mention it, look as though they’ve been treated with yoghurt and dung.

    So much still to learn about country ways!

  3. Z

    Cow dung, ideally, I understand, Mike, although I’ve never done it. You mix the dung with yoghurt and water to a squirty consistency and it encourages algae growth and a weathered appearance.

    Anyone out there tried it?

    I’m not a country girl myself, but I do theory with gusto.

  4. AFC 30K

    Z. I’ve tried aging a large concrete structure with Yogurt and dung.

    It did get a pattena on it quict quickly. It looked 15 years old in less than a year, but after the guts I busted getting the damn thing built I’d have prefered to see it stay new for a few years!

    As for the look in relation to the existing structures on the site, it blended in quite well. NOt as good as natural aging, but not bad either… if you like that sort of thing!

  5. Z

    I prefer natural aging myself, afc, and will remember not to spray myself with yoghurt and dung.

    It’s a 400+-year-old house and I’ll want the wall to fit in. I am going to plant things up it though, so maybe it won’t look new for long in any case.

  6. Blue Witch

    I don’t think the yoghurt technique works particularly well… last time I tried it, it seems to work, then bits of it flake off. Which means you then have to wire brush it all off, leaving it more stark than when you started.

    Mr BW and I always laugh at people ‘doing up’ their drives with new setts. They always make places look like a supermarket car park.

  7. Z

    BW, you don’t see me as a woman to brush it all off again, do you? I’ll probably be too lazy to put it on in the first case.


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