Today was the first day of spring. Before one of you cleverclogs writes and tells me ‘that was last week’, I intend to get my blow in first and say, on the one hand, there are calendars, and they can say what they please, but there is, on the other hand, Aberdeenshire, which is not to be hurried. It poured with rain all night, but by eleven, the weather had cleared. The sun came out, and all of a sudden there was a delphinium blue sky with fluffy white clouds, a balmy breeze scented with new growth, bees busily buzzing in the pulmonaria, and a massed chorus of small songbirds. This was just as well, since the good Calum, yesterday afternoon, delivered twenty-four large fruit trees. Our friend the Anthroposophist Ambassador is here. He is strong, and knows about trees. Tony also tipped up, and between us, we did something I’ve been threatening to do for a decade, viz. plant a cherry orchard for reasons, mostly, of sarc, but also, of course, spring blossom and so forth. First, there was Qincunx Funne. This involved consulting Sir Thomas Browne, author of, among other things, The Quincunctial, Lozenge, or Net-work Plantations of the Ancients, Artificially, Naturally, Mystically considered. Here we learned a good deal about quincunxes (the good doctor saw them everywhere — the five face of a dice is a quincunx, by the way, if anyone is not sure on this point). Thus fortified, we set out in our wellington boots with a clothes-line to make quincunxes. We made, in fact, a quincunx of quincunxes (a brief experiment has revealed that tabs don’t work in this space, so alas, I cannot show you). It was quite a prolonged and muddy process. First of all, you make a twenty-foot square. Then do a diagonal from one corner to the other, and then cross the other way, making a saltire, to get the mid point. There are your first five trees. Then you try and keep the next quincunx in line with the first one. This achieved, Phase II is dendrophoria, i.e. carrying trees about, then you plant them, trying to keep them lined up both on the square and diagonally. For those of you who know the garden, we ripped out the old fencing, so above the revetting wall, the ground now extends unbroken to what was once the sheep-field, the old animal shelter has been removed to the big field where the Zwartbles sheep are living (and causing no trouble, bless their white socks), and the southern end of this roughly piece-of-Brie-shaped open ground is now a double quincunx of fruit trees. They aren’t all cherries, in fact, a joke only goes so far. There is a Morello as the central dot of each quincunx, because they grow tallest, and the outer trees are a mixture of cherries, apples, and pears. We may even get fruit off them, though I prefer to look forward to spring blossom, as a bit more certain. Between us, we got them all in, pretty much in the right place, and the four of us had a picnic lunch in the middle of the garden — this being absolutely the first day when such a notion wouldn’t make you shudder. The sun has gone in, but it’s not yet cold, another firm indication that it’s spring properly at last. Everything seems to be growing about an inch a day, and the beds are a blue lake of scillas.

3 Responses to “Dendrophoria”

  1. The Dramaturg Says:

    This cleverly replicates the Festival Theatre’s conceit last year of a Scottish Cherry Orchard, with Mrs Ramsay-Mackay standing in for Madame Ranyevskaya. All you now need is a Doric-speaking retainer called Fergus, alias Firs, to shuffle round the house muttering incomprehensibly. And don’t let anyone near it with a hatchet, especially if their initials are GW.

  2. Jane Says:

    Dearie, the house is SELDOM WITHOUT people shuffling about muttering incomprehensibly.

  3. Jane Says:

    … Though the thought of Honey the Hamster Loving Hippie as a Retainer would shift the register from Chekhov to Monty Python in a trice. I’m happy to say that the only person I can think of with initials GW is dead (no, I didn’t like him much).

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