Over the last year, Ian and I have been gradually taming the garden, pruning and cutting back the overgrown shrubs and trees. With new loppers as Christmas presents it was the turn of the bay tree to receive a severe haircut! Working upwards, I first chopped down the numerous shoots and suckers from around the base so we could position ladders, then gradually clipped from underneath. Found a beautiful old birds nest hidden inside. Ian's job as my lovely assistant was to hold steady first the kitchen steps, then the full sized stepladder and pass me the relevant loppers( choice of 4 from sturdy ones for cutting through branches to telescopic ones). The main problem was the tangled vines of Clematis 'Balearica' with which it was smothered - besides raking it off, Ian was tugging hard at a length of it while I snipped until he staggered back with an armful of the stuff. It's never like this in the gardening programmes! After 2 hours work, got to the point where my upper arms were aching too much to continue. You never seem to have quite the right tool for a job - I could have done with some cheap and nasty lightweight telescopic loppers, the 'professional' ones were heavy to wield for so long. There's a few annoying straggly twigs out of my reach that will have to wait for Ian to bring back a pole pruner from his parents.
We are however very satisfied with the final result and we're not the only ones- our next door neighbour Dee came out especially to admire our handiwork and ask whether the tree had always been there!