I'm starting with a brief bit about this quite extraordinary plant, Edgeworthia chrysantha, or 'Paperbush', pictured here at the Sandbanks house we landscaped a few years ago.
It's from China, likes a sheltered spot to perform well, a loamy soil and nothing else except a little formative pruning if required, but in my experience even that isn't really needed, as it only grows to about four feet anyway. It offers a wonderful display of flowers at this otherwise fairly bare time of year, and these are heavily scented as well, and so a 'no brainer' as far as a garden is concerned.
I wanted to start with this, because it's an otherwise dull time of year, with work being fairly wet at the moment. Last week culminated in a phone call that has the potential to stir things up somewhat.
We have been quoting for new properties as is usually the case in the run up to spring, and are waiting on a response from two in particular, but the phone call surprised us both somewhat.
Back in the first days of my gardening life, around 1978, I worked for a family firm. A lovely family, with at the time just myself, Len (the black hair and beard), and an old ex-guards guy called Fred.
I spent about seven years with them, and enjoyed some fantastic times.
Over the years, as I left them to live and work at Compton Acres, and then start up Four Seasons some time later, the family firm continued, and we actually ended up sometimes working on neighbouring properties. We had two slightly different set ups, with Four Seasons generally geared up for between two to three people, while their company looked after much larger properties, with a staff of four to five. The elder boss, Gordon, passed away some years ago now, leaving his son Steve (in the brown beard) to carry on with things, and we have periodically kept in touch.
He phoned last week to say that he's retiring. People assume that gardening for a living is pretty stress free, but like most of us in this business, the paperwork and hassle more often than not far outweighs the pleasure one once got from working with plants themselves, and even now I try to keep reminding myself why I got into this work in the first place. Steve had quite rightly gone on long enough, as the long hours, often up to 8pm at night, had taken their toll.
He called to say that his rather large portfolio of properties was about to be up for grabs, and he was only telling us, and the two managing agent companies, and that if we were interested in any of them there were a couple of people waiting for our phone call. It could either mean that we only get one or two, or it could mean that we can potentially double the size of the company, a rather daunting prospect, but something that we have been considering for some time anyway.
We have had all of it going around and around in our heads over the weekend, along with some other more personal family stuff, the fact that it has been six months since the seizure and I am officially in the clear and can drive and hedge trim again, and so we headed to that place where so many things have been walked off and discussed, Shell Bay. It was lovely, cold and windy, and we even managed to find some shells to bring home as we talked.
It's Monday morning now, and my stomach is a little churny. The phone call happens in an hour or two.