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?
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.
Plans, too, for an extended perennial border and wildflower patch but all in good time – first, we have to beat the jungle into submission.
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!
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.
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.
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.
The rocket is already up: oh, you beauties – our first little seedlings!
Despite the hard work of slash-and-burn, we’re making some useful discoveries as we go along.
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.
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)!
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.
I picked enough goosegogs for a creamy fool, our first ‘harvest’.
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. 🙂