has been been a happy and not so happy subject on my blog several times. Remember the time he almost burnt the garden down? Or when he cut back the beauty bush and other shrubs BEFORE flowering? There was the time when he put great piles of the most pernicious weed in my garden, the blessed lesser celandine, in the compost heap and we had to discard a whole spring's worth of compost, tipping many barrow loads of it on to the banks of the moat just outside the gate. Admittedly, since then we have had golden carpets of celandine right outside the garden every spring. He has learned quite a lot about gardens and gardening since his days as a cowman, but he'll always need somebody to keep a close eye on him.
Gardener has had a heart attack and I miss him dreadfully. Not only because I have to work three times as hard myself now but I also miss the stories he told during our tea breaks and while we were working side by side. Being a real, died in the wool, countryman of the old school, very conservative, full of mischief, I often get cross with him. On occasion, his right-wing opinions make me bite my tongue, something I would never do with anyone else.
The way he mangles the language is priceless. I love gardener-isms, but I'd never laugh at him. He must have some form of verbal dyslexia.
Only a week before he had his heart attack, he went to visit his terminally ill brother in a hostel, (hospice) he said. "They can't keep on giving him blood all the time. It's getting too expensive. He has something wrong with his corsuples. What can you expect, he abused himself all his life, being an alocolic."
"And as for that worbal gloaming, I don't believe in it. It's nonsense. My chimmuck nearly caught on fire last winter, I had the fire going perament".
I've never found out what a "compensating nuisance" is or a "disaffectened MMR virus", but I have an idea what he means when he tells me he has been given a bottle of "sloane gin" and I definitely know what hides behind "I let my wife do the dirty". She is the one who deals with unpleasant telephone messages for him, both ringing clients he doesn't want to work for and fielding their irate phone calls to his house.
But gardener and I get on extremely well; we have worked out a relationship which suits us both. I am going to keep his job open for him. I spoke to him today and he told me that he'll give up various clients, but that he'll definitely come and do my 'bit of garden'. If a particular job is too much for him, he'll get me to do it, he giggled. He has a giggle for even the hardest, bleakest tale from his life.
I am glad he reckons that I'm worth cultivating. "We'll just have to have more tea breaks", he said when I spoke to him today. "Besides, you pay me cash".