A daunting number of jobs to do before March and we are a man down. Only me left.
Remove tonnes and tonnes of stone and paving slabs by hand from the garden. Plan and mark out some growing beds. Plan what to grow. Dig, manure, plan, dig, repair, make compost bins, dig. Manage weeds, begin to prune trees, prune currants, dig. Flowers?Repair greenhouse…
After a short break in Andalucia, we are back to autumn in Northumberland and clearing out the disused nets, broken canes and mouse eaten string from the ice house. a huge pile of non-biodegradables is piling up by the steps.
I can now walk around much of the garden without being stung with nettles, prickled by thistles or covered in soldiers buttons so out comes the Hasselblad again. The light is really flat but it hasn’t been sunny for weeks and I really want to document the progress in photographs.
At some point in my future, these happenings will be my distant past, and the photographs will be read and interpreted differently by each viewer. But only I was there.
The whole of the growing area of the garden was infested with raspberries which had self seeded over the years from a bed of a really good tasting variety that sadly I don’t know the name of. So, freezer full with a bumper crop, raspberry jelly made and the canes now empty we began to cut away at what I remembered to be the growing area uncovering the original currant bushes now only growing from their tips having been smothered with undergrowth for years.
Concealed in 6 feet tall nettles along the west wall David Cowan uncovered a second iron tree support, the uses for which I was able to see from ‘Walled Kitchen Gardens’ by Susan Campbell. I now have two halves to make a whole support spanning about 6 feet in diameter and am wondering what to use them for.
We could now navigate our way around the edges and I had a clearer vision of how this was all going to look. I say clearer, not really clearer, just mixed thoughts about how to proceed not really considering the enormity of the work involved.
Having a helping hand from ‘The Complete Gardener’ by Monty Don, the enormity of the whole project hit me like a ton of bricks. I am so glad I didn’t think along these lines at the beginning or I might not have ever started this. But, if he can have a ‘Lime Walk’ at Longmeadow, I can have an ‘Apple Walk’ in my garden. And now I do.
We began to clear out the orchard rescuing the apple trees giving them some light and air. It was all so very wet but the trees were healthier than I had hoped for barring the extensive lichens on the smaller ones.
And the overworked garden tractor keeps going, leading out seemingly tonnes of garden waste.
Furtively seeking ways to be non destructive even with this extent of neglect, I naively started with the scythe but very soon went for the garden tractor and began cutting on the longest settings around the edges where I remembered the grass paths to be.
More than once, the cutter blades ground noisily on paving stones concealed by dense growth bringing my partner into the garden with an unhappy look on his face. Worried about the health of his poor machine, he stroked the engine lid with almost a tear in his eye and took over the driving.