Harold’s had the idea of landscaping the grounds and naturally he’s asked for my help.
Laverstone Manor has remained virtually unchanged since the 1840s when the west wing of the house was put up. There have been a few upsets. The second world war saw the extensive front lawn dug up and planted with potatoes and cabbages, and the walled kitchen garden ran into a few seasons of neglect during the latter part of Frederick’s life. Harold sorted that out the year before last by opening a portal to Faerie behind the greenhouse. They were glad to help, really, even going to the trouble of transferring barrow-loads of fresh earth for their own plane in order to grow the right kind of mushrooms. It seems that the particular ones they wanted are indigenous to this plane and won’t grow over there.
There was another upset last year when an angel trashed the herb garden and blew up the potting shed and nothing but snowdrops will grow above the spot where we buried Frederick’s old VW Beetle, but apart from that the grounds blend unobtrusively into the surrounding fields and woods. We even have the only surviving avenue of Elms in England, running from the house to the double gates at the road.
He asked me to come up with a few designs for what to do with the acre or so of turf to the east of the house. I sketched out a folly based on the Tower at Pisa, only I increased the angle to ninety degrees as an artistic statement. He pooh-poohed that.
I offered him the original architectural drawings for the grounds of Painshill Park but he just sniffed and said that we’d got enough trees with the wood being so close. “Build me something special,” he said.
I put my brains to the task. Two of them were put out by the whole idea, but the other five were glad to have something to do other than float about in their glass jars and between us we came up with a plan.
It took a bit of arranging. The local builder’s merchants were kind enough to supply a bulldozer and an excavator. You should have seen the imps operate them: one steering, one operating the shovel and the other two pressing the foot pedals. Laugh? I thought I’d never start. I supervised of course, and made sure that the machines were left in a convenient place for their owners to find afterwards. How was I supposed to know that the M25 is a clearway? I don’t drive.
Anyway, we got it all dug out and landscaped and even put the turf back on before Harold got up for his morning cup of tea. I could tell he was impressed even through the shaking head and the rocking backwards and forwards. He insisted we change the whole lot around again even though everybody else, except his missus who naturally backed him up, thought it was an unique design.
Personally, I love a good lake of fire.