“It’s not rust,” said the man who sold us our garden table and the two chairs which go with it. “It’s been painted with a special paint which makes it look as if there’s rust underneath.”
I’ve never been able to work out whether he thought we believed him. Or maybe he was the one who was duped? If he had known he was selling us a table with real rust, would he have wanted to charge us more? Did he go home rubbing his hands because we were idiots to pay so much? - because, if he did, he was wrong. We knew the table (and matching chairs) was over-priced. It wasn’t old. Nor had it been synthetically ‘pre-rusted’ - it just wasn’t very well made. But it was worth the money to us. It put the right finishing touch to our garden and we hadn’t seen one like it anywhere else. Indeed, it was so ‘right’ we weren’t tempted by a similar-but-not-the-same version which he could have sold us for less.
Sometimes, the only way one can decide how much an object is worth is by how much pleasure it gives - and it has given us a lot. Indeed, I’d go so far as to say it wasn’t just a finishing touch - it is (along with the shed) the foundation of our garden. There is so much wrong otherwise . . .
plants which haven’t grown; bald patches where cats have sat or done worse; pots which have been knocked over so the earth has spilled across the path; the browning leaves and brittle, blackened stems of the clematis armandii which has been tugged so vigorously and so often from the other side of the wall recently it has slipped into depression and isn’t certain whether it wants to grow any more . . .
. . . our table and chairs have been absolutely crucial in establishing that the area beyond our household walls really is a garden. And in achieving this, they have been worth exactly what we paid for them. Their faux-faded elegance has given the impression (to our willing imaginations) that our garden has a history - not a set of false starts.
I would have liked it if bits hadn’t started to fall off but . . .
Where I’ve been making a real mistake, is in thinking (though ‘thinking’ is the wrong word because the ‘thought’ resulted from not thinking at all but ‘assuming’ instead) . . . that the table (and chairs) - once placed between the vine and the cordylines - had to stay where it started.
Today, I was struck with a radical sequence of realisations. All three (table and twin chairs) could be moved! Not only that, that, if moved, they didn’t have to stay in the place they were moved to but could be moved back if ever we wanted. They could be a nomadic table and chairs!
Daft this, I know. But I think it’s something to do with their garden-ness. After all, you put a lot of trouble into deciding where to plant a tree or a bush or even a daffodil. When you put them in the earth, you don’t have in mind that you will move them a few weeks later. Maybe, if you are uncertain about the daffodil, you reckon you can dig it out and shift it the following autumn but, more likely, you will be hoping it will divide and spread and fill up the bed or wherever it is . . . not be relocated at whim. Until today, our table and chairs have seemed more like bushes than daffodils; once ‘planted’ between the vine and the cordylines, they were set to stay there for ever.
Which means I was doing a ‘big-deal-thing’ when I shifted them. While everyone else was out, I levered some of the bigger pots further towards the fence and put the table and chairs in their stead - beside our back door. I then decided the paving stones between it and the path are really a terrace. Then I made myself coffee, took it into the garden, sat down and happily surveyed the new view. Suddenly, it all looks much bigger.
That’s what happens when you create gaps.
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You can see what I see
when I sit at my table
on my other blog