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  • I loved Anko's castle so much. I wanted it. Then a few days later I found this trough planter in an abandoned corner of the garden, and discovered I had a bonsai birch wood of my own, without even trying...

    A few years ago I went to Russia. We flew to Nizhny Novgorod (aka Gorky) but when it came to returning to Moscow we went by bus.

    Hours and hours and hours we travelled, hundreds of miles, on an almost entirely straight road, flanked by birch forests. They went on and on and on. It was hypnotic. Occasionally there was a half-abandoned village of broken wooden houses to relieve the sodden birches.

    Every now and again there was a bus stop. The bus stops were all made of concrete and were all slightly different, being painted in cubist shapes in bright reds, greens and pinks, yellows and oranges, standing out garishly against the inevitable birch background, much as golf apartment complexes stand out against the seascape of the Costa del Sol.

    (Communism, Capitalism; what they have in common is tastelessness)

    Now I can't decide whether to keep my little forest in its planter (it even has a little conifer, and a mossy undergrowth), or to remove the individual trees and plant them in my garden. Maybe I'll leave it a while, to see if the regime changes.

    (With apologies for the terrible photo. Impossible to do the magic garden justice.)
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