Vertical Limit

My gardening life has taken a new turn over the past few years. Since moving house I have found myself dipping my (flip-flopped) toe into the realm of extreme sports. Yes, extreme gardening. The preserve of the modern day adrenaline junkie who, handily enough, can get their fix right outside the back door.

After all, who needs base jumping when you can garden on a slope?

A Rockery on an Incline
Not just any slope either. Ours is deceptively steep and we believed it was well suited to a rockery when we first moved in. So up came the badly laid turf and down went rocks and alpines. Inherent danger, check; height, check; a high level of physical exertion? Most definitely. Not forgetting the need for highly specialised gear — Well, if you count flip flops and a trowel that is. We certainly seem to fit the extreme description.
Rockery steps
However there are days when I wonder, have we done the right thing? The stones can move unexpectedly underfoot, particularly when you are fooled into the belief you have your balance. The weird and wonderful contortions needed to garden on our incline would leave the most accomplished acrobat pale. The skill of a mountain goat and the nerve of Colt Seavers are needed just to reach the top of the rockery — which is something that can only be done from the bottom of the garden due to the additional obstacles, or rather, “features” we have placed. In fact, the only access to some parts of the rockery is “cross country”, via the steps that cut through the middle. We like a challenge.

And challenge it is. Precariously balanced on the aforementioned shifting stones, with nothing to grab onto or to break a fall, you can be taking your life in your hands trying to scale our rockery’s dizzy heights. My husband does point out that my choice of footwear doesn’t help matters but we mountain goats are stubborn creatures and even his “affectionate” use of Calamity as a nickname or his continuous whistling of the Deadwood Stage does nothing to change my mind. Yes, flip flops are cheap and easy to slip on, slip off and slip over in but it has to be very, very muddy for me to resort to anything else. Unbelievably, I have had fewer accidents in them than any other garden footwear (and I’ve had a lot of accidents… but that’s a story for another day).

After another particularly challenging weekend involving a near back flip and triple salchow to cut back a poppy, prevented only by a particularly prickly rose stem attached to the wooden arch I was intending to make a grab for. I retired to the comfort of my sofa with a pair of tweezers to deal with the thorny issue of extraction.
Rope posts by rockery
I was just debating whether we would have been better landscaping into levels when the phone rang. I grabbed the receiver with my non-perforated hand. It’s my neighbour. She has seen our antics and have we considered whether the Chinese State Circus have an opening? Cue peals of laughter (all hers), after which she hangs up.

Maybe it is time for a change. I’m tired of extremities, and an adrenaline junkie I am not, but apparently if you’re not living on the edge, you’re taking up too much room. Well, I must be ok as there’s precious little room in my garden by anyone’s standards.

Lou C

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