Next door have a lovely lawn. Really lovely. I didn’t think I was much of a lawn man, but it looks simply sumptuous. Ours does not. We have what’s nominally known as the tennis court - it’s the right size and when we moved in the net was erected. There’s even a line marking machine in the shed. But Wimbledon it is not. It slopes and bumps, and thistles threaten an entire service box in the far corner.
Turns out that next door’s secret is they have a gardener. He turns up once a week and makes it lovely. We spoke to him the week we moved in, and he’s a nice chap and went to school with Islay’s sister. Anyway, we asked him to come and give us some advice and a quote for doing some hardcore pruning work to help us get the trees. His patter is obviously quite good, because he persuaded Islay that he should come and work for a few hours each week up until Christmas to do all the pruning and lopping and everything over an extended period.
So he’s been coming for a couple of weeks now, and the privet/gorse/box hedge separating the upper lawn from the rockery (how posh are we? ”upper lawn”) has now been halved to provide better views, and the vast beech hedge above the tennis court is almost halved too (it’s half halved).
(As an aside - that beech hedge was so tall that it defeated me, my father and a ladder in our attempts to prune the top earlier this year, and ever since it’s looked like some sort of big-haired Morrissey wannabe with short back and sides and a big quiff shooting from the top. A rockabilly hedge.)
But Ian’s a groundsman at a local cricket club (or golf, can’t remember) and it’s obvious that lawns are his first love. He’s decided to tackle the tennis court too, and is mowing it every week. He reckons it’s recoverable. Perhaps the Chishill Open will take place next summer after all.