Last time I went to Kew Gardens I was dressed up in Victorian costume and I had a great big bell. I was announcing the presence of Capability Brown, through the prism of a town crier. This was a few years ago now. There was another guy whose job it was to pretend to be the man himself. I was walking ahead of a horse drawn tree transplanter, clanging a bell and announcing stuff. “Hear ye, hear ye!” The client hadn’t really thought it through but it was a reasonable use of a week and we turned a lot of heads and got them to the talks by experts at North Gate.

The tree transplanter was an extraordinary antique piece of weird artifice, designed by mister adjective himself. He cornered a very lucrative and long lasting part of the marketplace. He would come to your stately home and upsell himself. “I’ll make a lake down there, and a haha between you and the lake so it looks like the lake is further away. But I’ll need to move that tree.” He was all about selling big ideas to people that could buy them. And he generated enough buzz, perhaps helped by his absurd adjective, that people paid top dollar to have him come and do whatever. He was deeply ambitious, and he created a frame of taste. People wanted his name on the work, no matter what the work was.

Part of his legacy to Kew is a fucking huge wooden carriage designed to move living trees. It needs two horses to work. You dig a hole around the roots. Then you bring in the transplanter, deconstruct and reconstruct the carriage around it, crane it up with the inbuilt crane, and move the entire living tree fifteen feet to the left so you can replant it. Because it looked terrible where it was, madam. It looks so much better where it is sir, and I’m sure you agree with me as a person of discernment that it’s worth the tremendous and very expensive work  That’ll be 375 guineas.

I wasn’t working at Kew this time. I was walking. There’s a filmmaker friend who loves the natural world. We’ve got a short film screening in Texas soon, about how we need to stop and look at things from time to time. She has a membership to Kew Gardens. We hooked up to chew the fat, to practice what we preach, and to be two human beings in the same industry. It was lovely. And I’m with the guy at Pret in the morning who gave me a free Love Bar. “It’s Spring!”

There was a robin stuck in the hothouse, singing its heart out on top of a statue. A winter bird, shouting the spring from its heart. I have a horrible feeling that the clouds are gathering and we are all about to get very very wet. But nature is moving with the guy in Pret. There are carpets of crocuses at Kew. And the daffodils are starting to show… Maybe…


Author: albarclay

This blog is a work of creative writing. Do not mistake it for truth. All opinions are mine and not that of my numerous employers.

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