Maybe it’s just me and my smutty mind. Yesterday my beloved wife, aka the Mem, aaka the most patient person in the Universe, announced that she would like us to prune the lavender together.
Instantly my mind raced. Was “pruning the lavender” a euphemism which had somehow passed me by?
If I had read more than the first couple of pages of Fifty Shades, would I have found a passage where the heroine submissively yelps “Purple! Purple!”?
Ah, no, gentle reader, the Mem did indeed mean gardening. I think she was breaking me in gently to a life of agrarian servitude by introducing me to one of the few plants that I could reasonably recognise.
Everyone knows what lavender looks like, right? Or at the very least we know what shade of purple it is. A sort of lavendery shade.
Of course, no-one knows quite what to do with lavender. Every now and again some chef will try to squeeze a bit of lavender essence into a puddle of jus, between a roulade of pig’s earlobes and an unpronounceable French thing which is made of some poor innocent vegetable processed three ways.
But it doesn’t really work, does it? Lavender is one of those things which is famous for being purple and smelling like nice old ladies. As opposed to not so nice old ladies (and old gentlemen) who smell of … something other than lavender.
First things first. The front of our house has a little patch of garden with a tree in it. The postie has worked out that he can take a few seconds off his personal best if he takes the racing line across the garden to the front door.
We don’t like the postie doing his Lewis Hamilton impersonation across our front lawn, so the Mem in her ultimate wisdom planted a lavender hedge right across his preferred short cut. Now he has to take the longer way round, using the path like nature intended.
There may be some psychology involved here. The lavender hedge is barely waist high to a hobbit. Easily vaulted by even a reasonable fit postie. And yet somehow it has magical properties of postal worker repulsion. Maybe it’s just too girly for him.
It transpires that you can’t just plant a lavender bush and leave it to its own devices. Oh, no, that would be too easy. It turns out that you have to give the bush a haircut (no sniggering at the back) when it gets close to the end of the flowering season.
The Mem likes to prune her lavender with dainty little secateur snips, like a bonsai sensei delicately picking off stray buds from a thousand year old miniature cherry blossom tree. If you tackle the task like that, I can well see why she would need an assistant. If I might be allowed to slip naughtily into the vernacular, it would take for flippin’ ages.
That’s all very well. It’s dainty and ladylike. But I am a bloke and that means the right tool for the job. Why picky picky at each flower-head when you can thwack them all in one swell foop with a pair of shears?
Fifteen minutes later and the hedge was shorn, like that famous film clip of Elvis having his hair cut to join the army.
I was vaguely thinking that I could get it down to less than ten minutes with a suitable investment in some power tools. Mmmm, power tools …
“My, but you’re fast,” said the Mem. Which isn’t always a compliment.
And then it struck me. What had we just done? We have taken this species that we call lavender and imprisoned it against its will. I don’t know if lavender plants have wills, but work with me on this one.
After a while the imprisoned lavender plant decides that it wants to have nookie. It puts out its trademark bright purple flowers in the hope of attracting a bee. And it’s utter smuttiness time again as boy plant, girl plant and bees indulge in an al fresco ménage a trois.
And what do we do? We come along with metal mutilation implements and cut off their sexual organs. Oh yes. We might think that we are being all dainty and ladylike, but really we’re nothing more than butchers in welly boots.
The lavender plant spends all winter sulking about its lost amorous appendages. It will try again next Spring, sending out new buds to develop into purple pimping erections. And we’ll chop them off again in the Autumn. It’s a constant cycle of sulk-grow-sex-chop.
Gentle reader, I may have made a tactical error. I may have attacked the lavender pruning with a little too much efficiency and effectiveness. Now my dearly beloved is talking about other haughty cultural things that we might do together.
Apparently we’re going to tackle the wisteria next. I may need to buy some power tools. And maybe one of those multi-purpose bat-belts to hang my firtling sticks on.
Most tasks in this life can be made more appealing to a man through the purchase of gadgetry.