Tuesday, 9 April 2013

Transforming the vegetable garden... 29,999 views, be the 30,000th

What an odd start to the year in so many ways. It had been nearly two years since I suffered a cold, thankfully not getting one at a critical time last year which would have been a disaster, any way I have made up for it with one which has left me with the worst cough I can ever remember. Nearly four weeks on it as almost abated, no longer spending an hour coughing myself to sleep with exhaustion.

I was annoyed when it first hit since I had been getting on so well working in the garden during dry windless days and it looked like spring was not far away and it was a race to tidy up before too much growth started. I thought that I had missed out on my target for this year then the temperatures dropped like a stone and snow and frost became daily events. The BBC has a national gardening programme on TV with a presenter many of my girl friends drool over, I can almost see what attracts them, last week he was bemoaning the three week hiatus which had held up the new growth. Finally the snow has gone, just a few flurries in the air, with the clock change the days are light until past eight and I have been able to throw myself at the task with a vengeance.

Thirty years ago when I first encountered the jungle the garden had become the gardener from one of the local grand houses came by and told me that I should call in the equivalence of an agent orange air strike, kill every living thing and wait a year before starting from scratch. I am soft hearted where plants are concerned and I could not bring myself to kill old fruit trees even those which were too high to harvest and some which had to be seen as decorative rather than fruitful… Hindsight is a great thing and I now know that I should have taken his advice and devoted that year to repairing the summer house and surrounding walls though I could hardly see them.

The old me was something of a pessimist expecting my end to never be far off so not making great future plans or working as hard on maintenance as I perhaps should have. The garden has in many ways followed a parallel path to my transition. Many years of wild chaos, then when the period of transition started there was less time for garden as all attention and cash was put into being the new me with constant appointments for hair removal, gender clinic etc and perhaps too much flouncing about the garden in flowing clothes rather than getting down to getting dirty.

Sadly my usual chainsaw lender has both his machines out of order awaiting repairs. I used to be able to swing them about with the ease of the light sabers in star wars but I can still manage them reasonably well even with the muscle loss. The plan had been to reduce all the growth covering the walls to fire wood and shredded compost in a day or so but I have had to do as much as I could with hand tools taking weeks of work. Climbing to lob off three inch thick branches at twelve feet in the air was a challenge as was chopping up great quantities of ivy and holly to be sent to the local recycling compost centre. If we have some decent summer days there are enough chopped branches to fuel a wood grill in an ancient old iron wheelbarrow for the whole season. I am now faced with two hundred feet of wall needing a great deal of repointing! If I don’t post much you know where I will be...

Santa did not provide the new steps which I had hoped for but having spent several days trying to remember to avoid using the second from top wood-wormed step I think it will soon be time to take out the seats from the van and go shopping for something in aluminium...



  1. That sure is a lot of wall to repair! I thought mine were long enough, the longest being around eighty feet or so but the entire house is surrounded by walls of some sort or another! I don't envy you that job. Maybe you could employ someone to do it and in payment do their gardening for them? Just one of my crazy thoughts.

    Shirley Anne x

  2. Fifty feet square less one doorway...

    As much as I have always said that swopping gardens would get gardening done with more enthusiasm and more thoroughly I would never trust anyone to do the pointing as well as I have been doing it on other walls for thirty years, house got priority! I have watched other walls in the village be "repaired" and it is often pointless, pun intended!

    i am sharing the garden with a neighbour who bemoans no longer having a vegetable plot, this garden once belonged to a previous owner of his cottage! Some previous owner of ours owned both but kept the walled garden...

    The walls are clear now except for a few tree trunks to be chainsawed, I shall just take my time and dream about what to grow against them next year...

  3. Reminds me of those chainsaw massacre films when I think of you getting to work on the trees. Glad I'm not a tree in your garden....LOL

    Shirley Anne x

  4. Right, that's my gardening done for today. I feel exhausted just thinking about your wall. We're behind with spring weather here and now it's too wet to plant the seeds I bought a few weeks ago.

  5. Sometimes, when something seems overwhelming, I break it down into lots of little projects. It seems that this is what you have done and you have made progress!!

    Can you explain the wall, Caroline? I'm confused. Perhaps I missed something. It is part of the property, but is it a part of the house? Sorry for such a stupid question...

    Calie xx

  6. Little in my life ever seems to be simple or straightforward. The walled garden is situated on the opposite side of the road from where we live and has been part of this property for over 120 years.

    The crazy brick wall was part of the fire station when I first moved here over thirty years ago, we had no chance of missing the air raid siren which was on it's roof and regularly tested! Cold war and being fairly close to a front line RAF airbase the regular scream of jets off to intercept the Russian bombers reminded us that we would be the first to be vaporised...

    Most of the walls are stone, andesite, hard but fractures and much just weathers out because someone used un quarried stone. This brick section was hidden behind trees, thick holly and ivy, out of sight, out of mind! Five or six courses of brick have to come off and a decent capping put on. Would have started late last summer if it had ever stopped raining...


Many thanks to all who ever joined in the conversation and to those who took the time to follow my zig zag to a new life..

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