Wednesday, 19 January 2011

Antidote to Blue Monday

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.


  1. I would be very interested to have the name of the company. We, also have a mammoth task to do something with our fields.

  2. Hello 50 and ...

    Thank you for reminding me. I've added a PS above. Hope this helps.

  3. Quelle bonne idée de jardiner pour avoir le moral en hiver ! Merci pour l'adresse de vente de plantes en ligne, les prix sont intéressants et il y a beaucoup de choix. C'est vrai que le latin est bien utile, c'est grâce au latin que nous nous comprenons lors des sorties botaniques entre anglais et français.
    Vous vous demandez si vos plantations sont trop espacées, j'ai plutôt peur que ce soit trop serré. Pour ce genre de plantes il faut au moins compter 2 m d'espacement. Le temps que les plantes poussent on peut remplir avec des plantes vivaces (lupinus, Gaura, Phygelius, Penstemon…) faciles à déplacer ensuite.
    Votre blog est vraiment beau.

  4. Thanks for the site. Did you order them all togther as a special offer or did you just order the trees you wanted.
    I wouldn't know where to start.

  5. Hi Sue, they have a section specifically for hedges of different types: "comment choisir sa haie?" I knew I wanted a country one and they give you a list of plants to choose from. Having lived in different houses with different types of hedging I'd a pretty good idea what plants I wanted: some structural (like hornbeam) some evergreen (like holly) some flowers (like wild roses) some berries (like Rowan and pyracantha). I could have had just one type of plant and got a good discount but I wanted a choice. On the English site they do give you a "package" but I couldn't find it on the French version and in the end I enjoyed making my own choices.

  6. Merci Nathalie. J'ai verifié avec le pépinière et leur recommendation était 45-60cms d'espacement. J'aime votre suggestion de remplir avec des plantes vivaces. :)

  7. Ils exagèrent, c'est beaucoup trop serré c'est pour un effet très rapide mais à cette distance ils s'étouffent mutuellement.
    C'est mon métier, j'ai fait des plants de haies pendant des années, nous proposions des haies fleuries, des haies champêtres avec des baies pour les oiseaux… Nous avons introduit à Pau des plantes faciles à cultiver que personne ne connaissait.