Tuesday, 21 February 2017

my safety glasses arrive

My prescription safety glasses arrived in the morning post.  That's pretty good going, since I ordered them on 8 February.  On 9 February somebody from the company rang me to check that I really had put the correct distance between my pupils on the online order form, and to suggest that a different choice of frames might be better.  She had worked out that if the measurements I'd given were correct then I must have a small face, while the frames I'd chosen were enormous.  With visions of my gigantic safety glasses sliding perpetually down my nose, weighed down by their fat extra strength lenses sticking out beyond the rim of the frame, I chose different ones.  The sales person spent ages explaining all this to me and the glasses I ended up with were cheaper than the ones I'd originally chosen, so there was nothing in it for her beyond a happy customer, and it is not as though I'm likely to buy another pair in the next year or two or be ordering them on behalf of my firm for my whole workforce.  The firm is safetyspecs.co.uk and they deserve ten out of ten for customer service.  I would unhesitatingly recommend them to any of my friends, except that none of them are planning to buy prescription safety glasses so far as I know.

The safety glasses I ended up with are almost exactly the same size as my normal glasses, but with the curved side pieces at the outer edge of each eye.  I wore them for most of the day, and they seem pretty comfortable.  At first you are acutely aware of the side guards lurking at the edge of your field of vision, like having dental work done and being unable to ignore the strange new contours of your teeth against your tongue.  After a while your brain filters out the novel but pointless stimulus and you cease to notice.  Opting for distance vision turned out to be the correct choice.  I can see perfectly clearly at arms length, which is where I'm mostly working, and can see where I'm putting my feet.  I would struggle to use a computer or check my phone wearing them, but I don't need to.

Emboldened by my new protective eyewear I went on pruning the roses.  I am on the home straight, I think, and not a day too soon.  Pruning shrub roses that are growing well is a pleasure, as all you have to do is take out any dead or moribund old stems, while the more recent growth emerges plump and shining green as the old, gnarled and twiggy brown is stripped away.  Cutting the buddleia back hard feels unkind, although I know they will bounce back, making six or eight feet of new growth by the end of the season.  Meanwhile their neighbouring roses will enjoy the extra light.  It feels very drastic to take so much off a woody plant, but buddleia can regenerate from the roots.  I know, since the only reason I have two is that I planted a second after the first was ripped out of the ground by a gale.  In due course the first came back.

I pollarded all the Paulownia shoots, of which there were many because it suckers.  Cutting them down feels drastic too, though not as poignant as cutting down the buddleia because they do not yet have any leaves.  The Paulownia will send up new shoots up to ten or fifteen feet tall by the end of the summer, clothed in gigantic furry leaves.  I haven't seen it generally used among shrub roses.  I put a couple into the bed, grown from seed, because the roses had such boring little leaves and I thought the Paulownia would make it more exciting.  A few years ago I let one hopeful shoot flower, and somehow never got around to cutting it down, so now have a foxglove tree in the middle of the bed.  After pruning it once as a standard flowering shrub I swore that it was going to have to come down, but somehow it is still there.  The flowers are such fun, like a cross between a foxglove and a horse chestnut, carried in mauvish blue candles in early summer, and the veranda gives such a good vantage point to look at them.  Staring up at bluish flowers against a blue sky can be an unrewarding experience, which is why you are advised to plant a foxglove tree downhill of your viewing point if you can.  By accident I have.  And the crown is conveniently placed to block the view from the sitting room of the next door farm's wind turbine.  If I just saw off one low branch to lift the crown and then keep at it with the pole lopper maybe I can manage it as a standard after all.

I have not yet pollarded the orange twigged lime but I must, as I really can't have a full sized lime tree growing that close to the house.  I should remember the notice in the extraordinarily good garden we visited in Richmond, explaining to visitors that a virtually leafless and branchless yew had been hard pruned to control its size, but would recover, and that they did a lot of that sort of maintenance in the garden to keep the plants in scale.  It would be nice to have tens of acres, though, and be able to let my trees grow huge.  They would like it, and so would I.

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