Hello, jungle!

New home, new garden, new blog title. We’ve only been here 10 days and already our French adventure seems like a lifetime ago. This is the sight that greeted us on arrival. There is a garden in there somewhere but where on earth to start?

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Adrienne and I decided to begin by hand-weeding the flower borders around the house. These have been beautiful at one time and there are some lovely plants in there which I’m planning to add to with some of the cottage garden treasures I brought back from France.

Back from France: plants in waiting.

Back from France: plants in waiting.

Plans, too, for an extended perennial border and wildflower patch but all in good time – first, we have to beat the jungle into submission.

Before . . . a bed of rosebay willowherb and buttercups.

Before . . . a bed of grass, rosebay willowherb and creeping buttercups.

 

After . . .so there really was a flower border in there!

After . . . so there really was a flower border in there!

Roger has been busy with the metal-bladed strimmer but it’s hard going, there is so much brushwood and wire netting buried in the grass, not to mention rocks and stones, lumps of brick. . . this is going to be a very long job!

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Meanwhile, Sam has been fixing a shed which will be perfect for some laying hens; I really missed those little ladies in France so it will be lovely to have them scratching and clucking about the place very soon.

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Future Des Res for chickens.

A new gate for the chicken run in the making.

The carpenter at work: a new gate for the chicken run in the making.

Note Sam’s furry black assistant snoozing in the marjoram  . . . we’ve unexpectedly acquired our daughter Vicky’s cat, Scrap (apparently he didn’t fancy the move with her family from rural Wales to suburban Leicestershire); he’s a useless gardener but seems very happy relaxing in the sunshine.

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It’s late in the year for planting vegetables but we hate the idea of not having at least a small patch so once cleared, we dug and planted an area near the house with several lettuce varieties, rocket, rainbow chard and some annual herbs. These should at least give us something fresh from the garden in autumn and next year we’ll keep and extend this patch as a ‘kitchen garden’ with a bigger patch for bulk veg in the paddock.

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The rocket is already up: oh, you beauties – our first little seedlings!

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Despite the hard work of slash-and-burn, we’re making some useful discoveries as we go along.

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First, a compost bin full of dry unrotted pet bedding complete with resident (wild) rat. 😦 The rodent has been evicted (come on, Scrap – time to earn your keep),  the compost bin relocated and we’ve started layers of brown and green in the hope of some decent compost next year.

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The soil round the house is tired and in desperate need of a good dollop of organic matter – on which subject, what joy to find a pile of muck emerging from the weeds (I know, I’m easily pleased)!

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There are frogs, toads and lizards everywhere so we will do everything we can to preserve a good ecosystem and encourage as much wildlife as possible; after all, it’s every bit as much their home as ours.

As Machete Man cleared a patch at the top of the jungle, a decent fruit garden emerged: apple, pear and plum trees (no idea of varieties yet), raspberry canes, a gooseberry bush and several blackcurrant and redcurrant bushes.

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I picked enough goosegogs for a creamy fool, our first ‘harvest’.

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There’s a good crown of rhubarb near the house so we have a good start fruit-wise; we’re planning to plant an orchard in the paddock and need to start thinking about varieties. Top of my list are some damsons, perhaps a ‘Shropshire Prune’ and ‘Merryweather’, they are so typical of this area and in my humble opinion make the best jam in the world.

There is so much to do here but we need to take it steadily and plan as we go along. First job is to take advantage of the summer sale on vegtableseeds.net and stock up on seeds for next year. Second job as I write is to pour a glass of wine and sit and survey our Not-Quite-So-Jungley-Now garden, smelling the roses and listening to the stream, birds and sheep. Our time in France was utterly brilliant . . . but it’s good to be home. 🙂

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14 thoughts on “Hello, jungle!

  1. Wow, you’re not messing around! I keep getting flashbacks to our place last October when I see your garden photos. But brilliant to find fruit trees and bushes in among all that lot. That’s a slow process otherwise. We have 22 apples on 9 little trees – that’s not going to go very far. I can certainly sing the praises of black plastic sheeting. We’re clearing a bit at a time, putting down black plastic for 6 months or so – if you put some down this autumn you’ll just have some minor digging to do in the spring (unless the ground is stony…). Good luck!

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    • Thanks, I think we’re going to need lots of luck (and energy … and optimism!). We’re at that stage of changing our ideas every day as we find new things, it’s going to take some time to put our plans in place. There’s a lot of drainage work to do before we can really start on a decent veg patch – and yes, the black plastic will probably be getting an outing, it is a great method. Looking on the bright side, we like a challenge and certainly won’t be bored for a VERY long time! 🙂

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  2. It looks like you are going to have one hell of a challenge in your new garden, any way Rome was not built in one day, perhaps two. Don’t overdo things otherwise the enjoyment goes out of the project

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    • Oh yes, this one is going to keep us busy for a long, long time! I agree with you about not overdoing it, we have to be patient and take our time – you can’t rush a good garden anywhere, can you?

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  3. Wow! you’ve done amazing things already! And come next spring you’ve still to discover what other treasures are ‘buried’ in your jungle. It’s hard work but exciting to see something beautiful and productive emerge. Look forward to seeing it as it progresses.

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  4. You stated ” you can’t rush a good garden anywhere, can you? ”

    It took us 10 years to come to terms with our garden, trying things out and moving everything around. During this time we initially planted most things in large pots and if we liked it , it would be placed into the ground. It is a lot more difficult once planted into the ground then decide to dig it up and plant elsewhere.
    We recently celebrated our 10th anniversary being here in Northern Portugal and my husband made a video to highlight the main events. Perhaps one day if it pours down and you are not able to get out , please have a look at this video link

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    • Congratulations on your 10th anniversary, it would be nice to think we might celebrate the same here in 2024! We’re having serious broadband issues at the moment so I couldn’t get your video to load but will keep trying – it’s always fascinating to take a peek at (and lots of inspiration from) other people’s gardens.

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  5. Welcome back as it were. The cat looks like he is on supervision duty – so cat. What kind of hens or you going to have?

    I’ve had to put my hens on janckers – they started laying at the front of the house (ours not theirs!). Not sure what has brought that on but they’re being kept in their coop until they lay. I’m hoping they get the message soon as I like them roaming about but having hens lay eggs at your front door is just a tad too rustic

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    • Mmm, the cat was definitely NOT in my new garden plans and I’m not sure we see eye to eye: why does he have to lie on the salad seedlings when he has so many other places he could sleep? As far as hens go they will be standard little brown jobs, we’ve done the rare breeds thing in the past and not found them anywhere near as resilient. They do seem to have to go through the ‘laying out’ thing occasionally but the front door is maybe taking it a bit too far! Perhaps it’s their own version of ‘you shop, we drop?’ 🙂

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  6. Wow, looks like you’ve done loads (puts me to shame…)!! Will be beautiful. I’m getting a bit of muck-pile jealousy though! Looking forward to having a snoop around 🙂

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    • Well, I can’t wait for you to come and have a snoop, too – although your garden currently puts mine to shame big time! As far as the muck is concerned, we’re going to need every little bit we can get our hands on so I need to speak nicely to some of my local farming contacts. 🙂

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  7. Wow! And I thought my garden was covered in weeds and overgrown when I moved in! What a lovely big garden you have though, so much space and scope. Katrina 🙂

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    • Well, it was a little bit daunting at first sight! Still, we’re making inroads and yes, the space and scope are brilliant although our plans are changing daily . . . all part of the fun (madness????) that is gardening, I suppose! 🙂

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