Every day, for the fifteen years that I had the privilege to work at Compton Acres, on entering and walking along the very first path that leads you into this as it was then...'other world', I would be faced with two bronze plaques embedded into the purbeck stone walling. One would have the poem entitled 'The Kiss of the Sun', by Dorothy Gurney, and the other had a slogan by a famous safe maker called Chatwood Milner that went thus:
"Achievement is but another milestone on the highway of progress. The end of the journey lies ever beyond".
Although I think that just about everyone knows the first one, Mr.Milners is a little more obscure.
It's wording has stuck in my mind ever since, as it really does epitomise the work of a gardener.
A garden is never 'finished', and indeed never should be. Things grow in size and shape, designs get changed, shrubs moved and dead things replaced. Even in the larger and more fixed estates featuring lanscaping by the likes of Capability Brown, watercourses are cleared and new tree plantings are made on a frequent basis, even though from a distance the overall effect looks the same.
And so it is that as gardeners, we will always perhaps feel that even though the season is ending, and mountains of leaves are cleared and things pruned down and tidied up, that the garden is in effect 'finished'.
It will of course never be finished, just put to rest until the whole cycle starts up all over again, and again, and again, and will indeed see both you and me off, and the next gardener, and the next gardener and so on. But isn't that just perfect? After all, we are not manufacturers of any retail product that is forgotten once sold, or builders of houses that at some day in the future will be pulled down, but custodians of something that is never really 'ours'. Something very precious indeed that can reduce us to tears, but more often lift our eyes and hearts with it's beauty.
And so my friends, when you are buried up to your necks in leaves this autumn, cursing the wind and sobbing at the broken rake handle, remember that if you are lucky, you may just get to do it all over again next year, and the year after.......and the year after that!
The picture is of the Boston Ivy growing all over our house, just before the leaves fall.