When we moved here, the lawn between the house and the fence had a number of roses and three camellias dotted around. Harvey was still able to do some gardening then, and he had very definite ideas about what he wanted to change. So we took out the two least attractive camellias, letting much more light in on the struggling roses along the fence, and added a neighbour's gift of the apricot abutilon. For his birthday Ali and David gave us a lovely red Dublin Bay climber to plant in the gap opposite the sitting room, right where Harvey could see it. But it still looked very spotty, everything dried out quickly, and when I had to take over I found it hard to keep up the watering.
When Ali stayed with me the week after Harvey died, she thought about my garden. A little later on, at exactly the right tactful moment, she talked to me about the idea she had for improving it: digging up the lawn along the fence in a long curving ribbon shape, to take in all the plants, and covering it in mulch to keep the soil damp.
Hopelessly ignorant about gardening as I am, I could see straight away that it would both look much better and be much easier to manage. Somehow the prospect of making a real change like this gave me something to look forward to and really lifted my spirits. I did wonder what Harvey would have thought of it. But long before he had said, very sadly, that it was now up to me to manage the garden and he'd just have to take a back seat. Besides, he usually approved of what I did, once he saw it.
So when Ali arrived yesterday to make a start, I felt both delighted and also slightly daring, making quite a big change to the landscape on my own account. We laid out the hose to get the right shape, then she dug a beautiful line all along it, cutting out the lawn into neat squares and using them to build up the soil along the fence, where it sloped away.