As a change from cutting the edges of the lawn, I trimmed the side of the Eleagnus hedge facing the drive. I gave it a very hard chop the autumn before last, because it had grown so far out over the drive that we were never going to be able to have another oil delivery. It looked dire after that, virtually bald on that side, and has gradually grown back fairly well. I now try to make sure I trim it regularly, to keep it off the drive and to encourage the regrowth to bush out. After the first flush of spring growth it seemed time to do it again, and to get rid of the odd, very long, straggly and unbranching new shoots flopping out of it. The postman and all other visitors have been willing to do as we do, and simply drive into them, but it's not a good look having lax two foot stems sticking at random out of your hedge. Besides, we need more oil inside the next month.
The problematic part was the stretch near the entrance where the gravel lorry shoved his wing mirror the other day, though he was only following in the path of the driver who delivered a sheet of foam a couple of months ago. I was rather exasperated about that. The Systems Administrator was using a kind of thin, stiff foam sheet to construct model buildings, and had discovered that it was much cheaper per square foot if you ordered a large sheet about four foot by six than buying it cut down into little A4 sized pieces. I was in the front garden one day and looked up to see a truly enormous lorry advancing up the drive, the driver oblivious to the fact that he was crashing his offside mirror through the hedge. I went and negotiated for him to stop and reverse up to the entrance, and he opened the back of the lorry, which contained nothing except the sheet of foam and a couple of pallets. I asked hopefully if I could have the pallets, but he said they were not spare, and was totally unapologetic about the state of the hedge. The fact that the SA will not use that supplier again is no consolation, since the enormous piece of foam will keep us in model buildings for about five years anyway.
Since then a couple of branches have died where they were bashed about, and others have flopped out over the drive, so that the only thing to do was cut them back until I'd got rid of the worst of the lump. They had probably sagged out over the drive a little to start with, which is why the lorry stuck at that point, but they were much worse afterwards. I am now left with a fresh bald patch, which with any luck will start to fill in with new growth over the summer. Luckily it is near the entrance, and doesn't form the backdrop to anything you'd spend time looking at.
I am nervous about the state of the hedge. It is a good age for Eleagnus x ebbingei, planted in 1994 though several plants had to be replaced as it went in just at the start of a prolonged dry spell and at a time when we had no mains water and were both still commuting to London, so they did not get the sort of loving care and regular watering you would like to give to a new pot grown hedge in a drought. I have had to trim odd dead twigs out of the length of the hedge this time, and am uneasily aware that entire plants could easily die, as Eleagnus x ebbingei is given to doing in its third decade. The thought of replacing the hedge appals me, the sheer quantity of top growth we would have to clear away and burn and then the labour of digging out the roots, and the idea of living without a windbreak along the side of the drive for several years while a new hedge grew is even worse.Our boundary hedge and the neighbour's trees offer more shelter than they did twenty years ago, but still I do not want the olive tree, the myrtles, the Watsonia and Gladiolus tristis and the little Persian silk tree exposed to the full blast of the south westerlies. Gardening on pure sand is difficult enough. One of the things that makes it worthwhile is using the sharp drainage to grow marginally hardy plants.
If I knew then what I know now I'd have planted hornbeam, or even yew. Oh well, that's gardening for you. Learning by doing.