|Just a month of two after we moved in 1995
|A fallen Plum tree, typical of what we had to deal with!
Where to start? Well how about with some history and memories of an old friend, our old Pear Tree.
Back in the 1920's our garden was part of a large commercial orchard, and when we took up residence there
was plenty of evidence of its former life… old roots and stumps littered the terrain. It was tough digging them out
We had, what we believed to be, one of the last pear trees from the orchard. Even in its final years of
life this giant tree used to yield us getting on for 100 kilograms of fruit.
|The Pear tree is in the centre of this 1997 photo
|..in front of the giant Sycamore
Over its life the tree had had much major surgery. Our tree expert Russ told us that he thought
what had been done was too severe.. the major centre branches had been taken out by the previous owner, some of these were
25 cm in diameter. Whether this ‘major’ pruning led to its eventual demise in 2000, we're not sure,
but in it’s final years the crop dropped right off to a few pounds of pears, and then sadly it died.
|The garden in Summer 1996.. Pear on the right.
Being a major feature of the garden, we were loathed to take it down. That added to the fact that even dead
it remained a regularly used bird roost. On one memorable occasion we counted over 30 redstarts roosting in it overnight.
They are not normally found in our ‘neck of the woods’.
One day whilst leaning against it's old dead trunk, I noticed I was able to move it… a danger
sign indeed. Branches had been falling to the floor as well, and with Catherine now toddling, we made the decision to fell
it. The decision was accompanied by great sadness, and as a final gesture it gave up it’s last crop… fungi from
it’s rotting trunk, an 80 litre bag full of the stuff!
Russ and I, spent sometime cutting down the main branches leaving about 3.5 metre of trunk. The tree was
close to neighbours, not to mention a standing crop of vegetables, so needed careful and accurate felling which Russ achieved
with his trusty axe! Once down we noticed the Stag Beetle larvae that had bored holes in the decaying trunk (are they the
ugliest looking thing you’ve ever seen?) Catherine was fascinated, and we carefully put them back. Check out our wildlife
page to see some of our creepy crawlies! Taking our ‘ugly’ yet beautiful discovery into account, Liz and I decided
that the trunk must stay, and maybe we could use it as a seat, a place to pause a while and reflect on the garden. As I mentioned
the Stag Beetles have been in evidence every year in the garden. In fact one night, Liz , whilst carrying a torch, was hit
in the face by one!!
Late January and the nights are drawing out…
a man’s thoughts turn to spring!
I wrote on the
notice board ‘Curly Kale’ to remind me I must get some seed for this delicious vegetable. Having given the plots
a thorough dig over at the end of last season, I’m hoping I can get away with what Liz describes as a light ‘fluffing’.
The number and
size of plots have been reduced dramatically since having Catherine and Hannah, purely because of the time available with
the little ones. A few years ago, I built a play area for Catherine which took up quite a bit of our vegetable garden.
A bit of reorganisation and moving the greenhouse has left us with… well frankly.. for now…
probably about the right ‘manageable’ size of veg space.
|The old Pear lies providing a great bug habitat !
we grow the old favourites, runner beans, cabbage, sprouting broccoli, butternut squash, marrows, courgettes, leeks,
Swiss chard, French beans, beetroot, tomatoes, cucumbers, and peppers, but no doubt when I’m looking for my packet of
Curly Kale seed , they’ll be something else that catches the eye! Trouble is where to put it.
To things more watery, the pond sprang a leak… how the poor old frogs managed I don’t know! In
the process of cleaning the pond out thoroughly in Autumn I guess my big feet must have pierced the liner somehow. Of course
repairs had to wait until after the tadpoles. A complete redesign and rebuild is on the cards for when we get time!!.
It's a bit of a shame though, as after a decade, it’s settled in quite nicely, and disturbing the planting and
the mossy York stone would be a shame.. still if needs must! You can find
out more about our pond on our wildlife page.
A regular task for March is the pressure washing of the paths and patio, a messy
job which takes forever, but looks great once it’s done, and it's considerably less slippy afterwards. It’s amazing
how much green algae builds up over a year.
presence of all this sunshine gave us momentum to get out to the veggie garden, sectioning off a little bit for Catherine.
The pitch darkness of nightime came before I had finished building the fence to go around it! Hammering nails in the dark
is difficult, ouch, but I seem to do a lot of that on various projects!
As for the serious side to the vegetable garden (don’t
tell Catherine I said that), the first early potatoes chitting in the shed, Liz draws up the plan of what is going where,
considering what was in where last year, and what is likely to cause shading of other plants.
A four year old Catherine at work planting onion sets in her patch.. new life and old memories. Whilst taking a pause from the hard job of digging in preparation for this years vegetables, Liz approached with a mug of
coffee, and we rest on the old fallen pear tree trunk, time to get our breath, pause, consider our labours and wonder at God's
Amazing we saw the first Swift over the garden on Monday 30th April - and incredibly
early, having made it all the way from Africa 22000 kilometres 14000 miles!! Hi Guys!!!
The end of June .. time to take to the garden to rest, potter and soak it all in. So lets soak up some our
garden atmosphere with some photos. You can see lots of flower shots from these weeks in the Garden Flower Gallery. Don't forget to click for a bigger view.... if you want one!
As the vegetables get bigger and bigger above....
.... the Lychnis is providing a focal point in our ponds sunny south border.
Below looking north to Carl's shed halfway down our top garden... a great place to sit and catch the late
afternoon sunshine. As the great Geoff Hamilton used to say..... it's our bit of paradise... take time to enjoy it!
All is well in the garden... but the heat, or lack of it, can sometimes be a problem and no water.
We now have 6 waterbutts which provide us with a fair old few litres.
Autumn and Harvest Time
We made the decision some years ago that, as far as vegetables were concerned we would only grow
the things that were expensive in the shops, or things that we knew our clay soil would grow well. So usually it's
purple sprouting broccoli, runner beans, french beans, squashes, marrows, tomatoes in the greenhouse, cucumbers, peppers,
courgettes, beetroot, leeks, and yes Swiss Chard. Yields are always good, with the ubiquitous 'glut' towards the end
of August. It's very difficult to 'potter' around the garden with ayoung kids of course, most of the things we have to do in
the garden get compressed into short periods of manic high pressure activity. Not exactly what gardening all about. On
the Today programme on Radio 4, they were discussing what gardening was all about these days. One gent was saying gardening
is about decking and pots, people just don't get their hands dirty anymore. Well that isn't the case in our garden! There's
alot of high stuff in autumn, taking the leaders out of some of our more mature trees including our Eucalyptus, which
we are determined will not grow to the height of one a little further down the road. 'Said' tree was left to grow a muck,
and ended up twice as high as the house. To sell the house they had to get it removed, and I believe the cost of tree removal
was a good few thousand pounds! The 4 metre loppers come in for a lot of use! We're pretty much ready for
whatever the winters going to throw at the garden so time to get the thermals on, and the spade out. Only single spit digging
this year, so maybe we'll get through without bad backs!
garden is like ours, the last of the leaves look like they are going to fall before long, and we can then spend a few hours
tidying the borders ready for the ‘what is predicted to be’ very very cold Winter. We’ve failed to get our
early purple sprouting broccoli in the ground, and I reckon it’s a bit late now. Which means we’ll have to wait
a month or so longer, before we can enjoy what is undoubtedly our favourite brassica. The problem with trying to be organic
was shown last year as the crop was devastated by a veracious brood of Pieris brassicae caterpillars
while we were away. My usual technique of pest control is what I call ‘squashology’,
it’s a procedure that ends up with me having stained fingers, but we won’t go into that! Anyway the broccoli is
wonderful, being ready to start harvesting around February and continuing until May. It’s always expensive in the supermarkets,
one of our prerequisites for growing anything. The supermarkets don’t like the stuff anyway, the leaves soon wilt, and
it doesn’t look particularly pretty. But it tastes wonderful! Just a shame we didn’t get it the ground in time!
Monty Marmot (who spends alot of time in the garden) on a rare visit inside the house. You
can see we've tried to stop him feeling homesick by adding an alpine style backdrop. Shame he doesn't appreciate it!
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