Thursday, 14 May 2015

The Park is Blooming

Bloom 9

I know it seems ridiculous, but I haven't had time to think since I last wrote anything here.
The days have telescoped into one long Bloom-bound roller coaster.
It's exhausting - but fun.

I'm actually living up in Dublin now, in a B&B just outside the gates of Phoenix Park.
I may never go home again. I have fallen totally in love with the park
It is a pleasure, going to work - driving past the great green spaces, the deer, the dog walkers, the runners and cyclists, past the huge chestnut trees all laden with candles,
The chestnut trees at home are miniature by comparison, and rarely have the luxury of so many flowers. One side of the tree might have a sprinkling, but even then the wind will find a way to snake around and bludgeon them to death.

Wonderful Phoenix Park

It's hard to believe that we've already had well over a week of building time.
Where did it go?
Yet already it seems aeons ago that I sat and looked at a bare, waterlogged mess thinking: 'This is it. Oh ye gods and little fishes - what have I done?'

This is how it all begins. One site. Water free. Grass temporary. Mud permanent

9 days later, the whole place is transformed. It's still heaving with heavy machinery, more people come on site every day, deliveries arrive constantly, everyone is borrowing this digger, that tape, a bit of space for trees that have just arrived, a barrow-load of sand, a dozen blocks...
It is all chaotic, yet out of the mess and mud and mêlée, gardens are emerging. And despite the din of cement mixers and heavy engines, you can always hear laughter and birds singing.

If you've read any of my other posts about Bloom, you may remember that I was upside down trying to decide which contractor I should appoint. I went for Seamus in the end. Not an easy decision, but it felt right.
Well, it's good to trust your instincts. Seamus is fantastic.
He has that ability - rare enough, I find - to make you sigh with relief  and know that the grown-ups have arrived whenever he turns up. I say 'turns up', but in fact he's generally the first person on the site in the morning and quite often the last to leave. 
And he knows exactly what he's doing, although at one point, I did wonder. 
He levelled out the site, gave me a spray can and told me to mark out the garden. With Glenn's help, I laboriously measured out a grid, counted this way and that, consulted my plan, um-ed and ah-ed and finally committed my design to the ground. Seamus turned up, glanced around, climbed onto a digger and immediately ploughed it all up. 
'That was a useful hour we spent,' I said to Glenn. He laughed.
But, what-da-ya-know! When he'd finished digging, shaping and levelling, Seamus was only a few inches out in one place.
I don't know why I'm saying nice things about him - he laughs at me, teases me mercilessly and is still promising that we'll have a row before opening day.
But he's a gas and the first person I'd go if I wanted advice.

Seamus glanced at the site plan and immediately trashed it

All my plants are landing in from distant Sligo.
Friends have brought up van-loads, and Sligo Haulage kindly came to the rescue and brought all the trees for me. What stars people are! 
We wrapped the trees in cling film (well, pallet wrap) and packed them lying down into a 30 foot rigid. I didn't look too closely - I didn't dare. My heart might have fallen out of my mouth.
But they are all fine. Seamus tells me it's how they come in from Italy. (Of course, what he carefully didn't mention is that the ones coming in from Italy are in opulent, sun-nourished leaf, whereas my Sligo-raised trees are brow-beaten and redolent of a cold spring!)

Sligo Haulage brought the trees - wrapped in cling film

Sligo, as well as being distinctly un-sun-kissed, isn't as far as Italy, but it seems a long way off at the moment.
I went back at the weekend, after a hectic day of planting said trees.
'We'll get them in and send you home to your husband and your dogs,' Seamus said. He also said: 'We'll move them around until you're happy with how they look.'
We moved one awkward willow from location A to location B, after which he said, 'That's it! You've used your 'move a tree' card! Get on with it, woman!'
It was accompanied, as most things are, with an infectious laugh. 
I like people who laugh.

It seemed a long way home at the end of the day. 
Lucy's friend, Vincent has sweetly lent me a little runaround as no one was able to loan me a van for Bloom. He was very hesitant, and seemed to think I might not want it, but I'm thrilled to bits. Lucy has dubbed it my  'little sporty number'. It's surprisingly roomy, drives itself and knows the way back to Sligo.
It doesn't know it's way round Dublin though. We got lost, and neither of us knew which way to go. But we're safe in the Park. There are walls at the edges that hold us in. 
But finding the way home was easy. I fell into bed and slept like the proverbial baby, but there was plenty to fill my 36 hours there too - catching up with the artists whose pieces are part of the garden, with the never-ending barrage of emails, with the lists of lists of things I still haven't done, with transport to be sorted, plants to be cossetted, blankets to be sourced for packing a mural...
I ended up singing aloud in the car on the way back to Dublin to stop myself falling asleep. (It works!)

The sporty little number that Vincent has lent me. I love her.

So here we are at Day 9. Nearly Day 10.
Yeats' cabin has been built by the wonderful Niall Millar, his wife Brenda and their friend Joe McGowan. It looks just dinky and I'd really like to keep it as it is - simply 'wattled', but daubed it will be - lightly, in a home-made, inexpert, rough and ready sort of way. The way a young guy would do it if he'd never done it before and (let's be honest) if he'd got a bit fed up with daubing when he'd really rather be sitting by the lake writing poetry and enjoying the view.

Niall, Brenda and Joe building Yeats' cabin

Still lots to do.
Lots to plant. Stuff to somehow be got from Sligo. Stuff to somehow be got...
The Somme-like mud has dried up. Let's hope it doesn't return.
Thank goodness Saffy and Sarah are coming up on Friday to help me plant.
Otherwise I'd probably slip behind with the schedule. 
Heaven forbid. 
Seamus and I might fall out and have a row.