I’ve been to quiz  – we came fourth in a quiz that seemed to feature the quizmaster’s knowledge of US sports – and it’s late so not much tonight.

Here are some “before” photos of my garden. Before the onslaught of diggers, bulldozers and cranes and noise and clay soil and workmen. These are photos of one of the last peaceful afternoons in the garden for a good few months to come.

We’d been out for our walk and just missed a shower of rain. The sunlight of a rather chilly late March afternoon is making the raindrops on the red dwarf acer sparkle like briolette diamonds.

The dramatic middle photo is of our magnolia tree that now finds itself too close to the house. Look! It’s got buds on it, ready to spring forth with beautiful white flowers that in most years are washed away by April showers and yet it persists in flowering with second and third flushes deep into September. If you look carefully, you can even see a bird high in his branches. Alas for our friend, he’ll be one of the first casualties of the diggers next week.

We’re in a conservation area so all of our trees automatically have Tree Protection Orders on them and Council permission has to be sought before felling them (for a good reason) or we would incur a fine of thousands of pounds for loss of amenity in the local area. The Council came and took photos of the back of our garden and they even have arial photos which they check from time to time to make sure all is in order. As we have full planning permission for our extension work, and the extension would irrevocably damage this poor tree, then it follows that the tree will have to go.

Can you tell how sad I am to lose it? I find it hard to contemplate losing any of these guardians of our oxygen supply. I am wondering whether we could transplant it to another site further back in the garden but I’m told that, unlike our two Japanese dwarf acers that have moved around with us for years, the magnolia is unlikely to survive transplantation. Perhaps we can make sure we plant a new one to take his place, but it won’t be the same.

And then there’s the photo of Oscar with the swing seat, semi dismantled and ready to be taken to the garden of my mother-in-law’s house on Saturday. I’d always wanted a swing seat, since holidaying as a child on a farm that had one in its garden. When I finally had a garden that could accommodate one, I bought it with the proceeds of my consultancy work and we put it up on a freezing cold evening in 2003 just in time for the start of that long, hot summer.

Ah, the huge amount of time we’ve spent on this seat in the summer placed, as it is, in the sun trap of the garden where temperatures are several degrees higher than at the front of the house. Since we lost our shady Sumac tree a few years ago, the swing seat provides the only shade near the house. Oscar crawls under it on a hot day to shelter from the sun before slinking back inside, defeated, in his thick, black fur coat.

The new garden will have a shady awning that will make life in the summer much more pleasant for Oscar and I hope the swing seat will find a new home near our new pond. We shall see.