This is our fourth place that we call home. I remember the surge of excitement when I saw the size of the garden. What do we do with an 80 ft garden? We know nought about gardening so, it certainly helped that the house came with a garden savvy neighbour, who instantly took charge. An apple tree was immediately put in place and several border perennials became our pride and joy, with tomatoes, potatoes and even sweetcorn. The perennials in my hands, eventually died. Even the apple tree wilted and went, now replaced with a Japanese acer that gives a lovely colour in summer. But it is the evergreen standing stoic and proud that still holds a special place in my heart.
Hardly a foot tall, we brought it back from a friend’s place in Weybridge and Mick dutifully plonked it in. That was twenty three years ago, when child number two must have been about one and she sat on the swing among the tall trees in Rachel’s backyard that summer afternoon as we selected our plants to bring home. Today as I looked up that tree, she is somewhere in Hampshire attending an office meeting. Child number three was still a baby in my kangaroo pouch when we visited Weybridge to bring this tree home and as I write this, she is on her way to India.
It didn’t seem too long ago that they were out there riding their three wheelers, playing catch and jumping on bouncy castle in the garden, neatly trimmed by Mick. And when they were brave enough, joined by friends from the neighbourhood, they camped out in the night but we found them sprawled in the lounge the next morning. The foxes must have paid them a visit during the night!
A basketball net used to be the centre of activities for family and friends and saw one of the most hilarious matches between sons and mothers. Now it is replaced by a punchbag, cutting quite a lonely and useless figure from where I am sitting now.
The garden in summer had witnessed many a barbeque party with the wind bringing the sweet smell of grilled satay over to the other side of the A40. Farewells and reunions or just plain get-together were held in the garden and we would stay out enjoying the summer nights and what’s left of the barbeque.
Today, as son of Mick laid out a plastic sheet across the front lawn to control the weeds and try to save some so called perennials wilting in the borders, I wonder where did all those years go.
And today, I ventured out and looked up the evergreen and felt a kind of melancholic feeling sweeping over me. It has grown so tall, lording over the neighbour’s pear tree. And more importantly, it now provides a permanent shade for Jasper in his final resting place. The garden was Jasper's playground - his and his alone, chasing other cats away across the fence.
And today, with Jasper out of the way resting at the foot of the evergreen, Tabby, Snowbell and Kissinger were free to laze about in the summer sun.