In my last job at Nottingham University, I used to be very proud of my fleet of 200 pieces of machinery, my big butch tractors and the greasy workshop that maintained them all. As my staff left the workshop each morning, the roar of the engines was music to my ears - work being started, gardens being maintained, beauty created! On occasions we had phone calls from irate professors complaining about the noise disturbing their thoughts and tutorials. We always responded and during special times such as examinations we had to carefully schedule mowing and other operations to avoid disturbance. (Waking up students mid morning didn't count though!) But I don't think that in all my years of grounds maintenance I have ever been aware of the real disturbance of garden machines.
Now I am on the other side! Here in Palm Springs, we live in a rented condo set in lush green gardens that are very neatly maintained. Whatever their faults, and more about that on another occasion, the gardeners take great pride in trimming, mowing and sweeping but all with noisy machines! Here I am on a lovely sunny winter's day, sitting outdoors with my coffee when the machines start - first its the mowers. Everything is cut with a small rotary mower so it takes ages. This is followed by a strimmer with a steel blade to do the edges - the steel shrieks on the edge of the concrete footpath like a banshee. No sooner has this passed than the the blower follows to corale all the loose clippings - well at least those that don't blow over the wall into our yard. When the lawns are tidy, they start on the borders - everything must be clipped - all the flowers must be removed from the bougainvilleas in case petals drop, so its the hedge trimmer to everything taller than grass and of course the blower has to follow again!
Now whilst I am normally a patient man, this has raised the red mist in my vision more than once and the gardeners have discovered that I am not just the quiet little man that sits reading! Why I ask, in a small area such as this can't edging shears be used, secateurs to prune or a broom to sweep the paths? Whilst I have never been one to disappear into my own world with headphones and an ipod, I have finally been converted!