Thursday, 14 April 2011

Five Summers, Not Five Minutes

I'm an impatient gardener.

I want the ideas I have in my head translated to reality NOW.  And with the minimum of effort on my part.  I sigh when I look at all the jobs I have to do and how slow progress seems to be with all my various "projects" - most of them only half done.

Sometimes Nature just reminds me: all that is needed is time for the vision to become reality.

When we arrived five summers ago, there was a scrubby, stubby bush to one side of the lawn smothered in weeds. Full of dead or dying wood, it didn't look much.  There were a few reddish sticks with variegated leaves which helped me identify that it was a feeble cornus. So each spring I cut back the older stems, trimmed back the grass and weeds to let it breathe, dug out more of the dead stumps.

The bush is now at the centre of what will be a new bed of roses and wild orchids, with a small nectarine tree to one side.

This morning, as I walked back across the lawn towards the new bed, I suddenly realised: the scrubby, stubby old bush looks beautiful. Her silvery variegated leaves gleam in the morning sunlight.  Her red stems are long and straight and every tip holds a cluster of soon-to-be-opened flower buds.

It has taken five summers for her to reveal her full glory.

Saturday, 9 April 2011

I walk ...

... to the sound of cuckoos and nightingales, eyes squinting against the low early morning sun, Vita a dark shape running ahead through the dew-silvered grass.

Friday, 8 April 2011

Feels like August, not April

We turn off the underfloor heating and open all the cottage doors and windows to try to catch a cooling breeze.

As I make supper, I watch Monsieur F planting his maize in the late afternoon sun.  His tractor kicks up dust and turns just beyond our lawn. We wave companionably to each other.

Black redstarts blunder in through open doors looking for nesting places and have to be coaxed gently out again, into the heat.

I wander up to the house to hunt for summer T-shirts and light weight trousers.  All my clothes in the cottage are meant for chilly days.

Nightingales sing in the shade of the woodland by the stream.

We open up the swimming pool, turning back the winter cover to reveal clear water.  Good.  As the temperature rises there is a risk that the pool goes green, but not this year.

Late spring flowers burst into colour and then fade too quickly.

We talk about moving back up to the house.  Suddenly its cool rooms and shady veranda feel welcoming.

Monday, 4 April 2011

Extreme Weeding

Weeding bores me.  The day to day tidy here, tidy there, type of gardening doesn't interest me.  Apart from anything else, all the weeds are back again the day after tomorrow, so it has to be done again.

But extreme weeding is different.  That's really satisfying.  The "nose down, crawling forward inch by inch, sore back and knees, weeds are taller than I am" type of weeding is really satisfying.

And this has been the week for it.  Rain every day and then Friday and Saturday glorious sunshine. So our sticky clay soil is still moist round the roots and an expert flick with the pronged weeding thingy and dandelions, couch grass, thistles, dock, and self-seeded rape are out of the ground in no time.

When we restored the cottage, the first task of the builders was to drive a hard surfaced road down what was a grass-covered green lane. In the brambles on the edge of Serge's field we found abandoned concrete telegraph poles and these were dragged forward and laid flat, end to end, to make a sharp edge to the new road. Through winter the weeds have been spreading over and through the concrete creating grassy mounds splashed with the gold of dandelion and buttercup flowers - a green carpet steadily spreading back out across the road surface. The green lane is re-establishing itself.  Friends suggest using weed killer.  But this offends my organic sensibilities. I'm tempted to leave it, but know that that would annoy Tod. So the weeds (at least here) have got to go.

Oh the satisfaction of standing up to ease an aching back and turning round to see behind me that weed-free clean edge of the concrete post nestling in the grit and pebbles at the side of the road!  Never mind that there's another seventy metres of road edge weeding still to do in front of me.  Extreme weeding rocks!