Some worthy organisation has identified one of the Mondays in January as being the most depressing day of the year, brought on by excess during the Christmas period and January sales followed by dire weather, penury and failure to maintain New Year resolutions. Some think the date this year was Monday this week, others that it is next week.
Well, I can recommend planting a hedge as an excellent antidote.
Doing something with what was Serge's field and is now ours feels like an elephant task. It's a huge sweep of mud and weeds and random self-seeded crops. But gradually Tod has been mowing it and parts are now mainly grass and it begins to have the possibility that, one day, it will be parkland. So the elephant task begins to look more do-able and I've allowed myself to imagine where I might plant trees and hedges.
Garden centres in France are expensive. We have an excellent one near us, but I was looking at the prices of their hedging plants and small trees and reckoned I could afford about ten or at most twenty plants if I chose the cheapest - not nearly enough for the field. But then I was tidying up all the different websites that I'd book-marked and forgotten about and hadn't looked at in years and came across a French on-line gardening site link. And suddenly, I had the option of relatively cheap bare rooted hedging plants.
Ninety-seven small healthy twiggy plants with good fat root balls were delivered last week - a whole mix of country hedge plants: nut trees, spindle, blackthorn, holly, hornbeam, rowan and more. And thanks to the weather gods it's mild enough and the ground is warm enough for me to plant them. I've laid the strip of matting and started planting one small bush every metre. If this is too sparse, we've plenty of brambles, dogwood and elder going spare that we can use as infill. Vita sits in the bright sun and watches me work and occasionally wanders off to investigate intriguing smells in the surrounding farmland.
The hedge will run parallel with but not too close to the ditch on the far side of our field. I've left a wide strip of grass between the hedge and the ditch - about four metres wide - to allow Tod, Serge and the man who clears the ditches with his digger to easily manoeuvre their tractors.
Ninety-seven plants felt like lots. In fact they will only reach about half way along the field boundary. For the moment that will have to do. The next order from the on-line company will be for young black poplars. Every large French garden has to have its line of slim tall poplars throwing long shadows across the grass in the late afternoon sun.
PS: meant to post this earlier. The on-line company is Planfor. They have a well-designed site. One reason I like it so much: they have an English version as well as French. I went from English, via Latin to the French name. So Spindle is Euonymus europaeus in Latin which leads me to Fusain d'Europe in French. Really helpful.