I turned 50 last week. I celebrated with the my U16 hockey team ending narrow runners-up in the county tournament to “the-school-that-must-not-be named” (otherwise known as the “C” word in my dictionary of sporting vernacular). I had a quiet meal at the local pub and on Friday celebrated a different 50th anniversary by going to the first night screening of James Bond in Skyfall. Birthdays are not that big a deal – not even your 50th. Am I officially middle-aged or is that 40? Or is 50 the new 40? If so, is 60 the new 50, in which case when are you officially old, if we are all going to have to work till we’re 70 something to be able to afford a pension?
If I was not sure, the evidence on my birthday cards was conclusive: the recurring themes of gardening and golf which spelt midlife mediocrity writ large. But that is what I enjoy. I had a great round of golf earlier this week which included my first ever eagle, (followed by my umpteenth quadruple bogey) and on Friday, after a quick trip to Liverpool, I spent a very happy day in the garden.
I sorted the gravelly bit out by the road, though it has become overgrown with weeds. It is not an area that concerns me greatly, but Claire retains a suburban desire to put on a good front for the neighbours and wanted the grit and grass sorted out. It was hard work, as we have not really done anything to this patch for a decade – when we cleared the area, put down shingle and planted a Mahonia. My mother insisted that grasses would be a good idea – which irked me as this was, at the time, the only piece of the garden I could honestly call mine and I wanted to do whatever I wanted to: grasses were not in the plan.
Ten years on, two days hard labour and I have come round to the idea that ornamental grasses on this windswept patch of soil would be a great idea. My mother was right all along.
When I am in the garden I am often trying to avoid my father, but I conversely I feel closer to my mother, who died six years ago. It was she who did the majority of the work to create this garden and it is in many ways in her memory that I am doing what I can to maintain and develop it now. So I cleared the weeds from the shingle and split one or two of the ornamental grasses. There is some other weed there that looks reasonably decorative so I left that. And then I came in and ordered some more grass (no not that sort – ornamental stuff).
Afterwards I trimmed the Berberis or whatever it is at the front of the house and then, after further internet research, I pruned the lavender. This had me thinking of mum again as we planted that this year around the sun-dial which had been her 70th birthday present from her four sons. I’m only twenty years away from that landmark, but there is no point in being morose over it. There’s still plenty living (and gardening and golfing) to be done.
Better get on with it then.