I’m late into cutting the bank this year, and the weather’s against me. Do not be deluded by the apparently beautiful September weather in this shot. Every twenty minutes, another icy shower rolls in and soaks all the grass.
I’ve never seen the bank so wet. The layer of moss below the grass is saturated and slippery. It was only when I had fallen flat on my face for the third time – much like diving into a cold sponge – that I realised that a new pair of boots with some grip was probably needed…
Exhibit A is a steel-capped wellington boot: not only a fashionable item, but an absolutely essential one for any Scottish gardener. There is only a single boot in the picture because I was wearing the other – it says much for my camera that it is able to cope with a photographer balancing on one leg on a slippery slope.
There are two separate grass smothers on the go this year. The soaked grass smoulders very slowly – effectively it is boiled into a stew, and then gradually dried out before charring into ash. If I am to have any hope of burning as fast as I cut, the smothers need to be taken apart every 24 hours and reinvigorated with a hot wood fire at the base.
An eviscerated smother resembles the lava fields of Etna. Ash spreads, and then is ground into a black paste by the rain…..Never mind, the bank is almost finished – and the celebratory half bottle of champagne awaits. Meanwhile, the next rain shower blows in.