It was a lot of hard work, with jobs for every weekend listed on the fridge and dutifully crossed off. We re-tanked the fish pond, cleared the ugly creeper west of the elm and replanted with oak-leaf hydrangeas, rhododendron, roses, japanese maples, azaleas, spireas and a bartlettina sordida. I still have nightmares about how much mulch we shifted - thankfully, a helping hand was not far away. And the re-planted lawn is still lovingly caressed.
Badgers Wood shone in all its glory, however, as the bride walked through the rose petals to her young man waiting under the elm, it took a back seat to a beautiful couple starting their own adventure together.
We are starting to work our way down the eastern fence line below the elm. We call this the 'wilderness area' because it has not been cleaned up for some time. It is a mass of overgrown shrubs, weeds and blackberries. I thought there might have been a few dead bodies or rusted parts of cars, but sadly we have not found those yet.
But, it was the burial ground for old tree trunks. In fact what I first thought was a mound of soil turned out to be lots and lots of rotting tree stumps. We also uncovered the stump to a large old pine (I think) tree and a number of hand-cut planks. At the base of that was also a lot of slate that we might be able to put to use around the garden as stepping stones or the base for our benches.
Lots more to do though. The chainsaw will have to come out soon, I want to dig the pine stump out and then when we have some space we will get rid of the cubby. But it will give A a completely new area to plan & build.
It has been a little while since my last post. Not because I haven't been taking photos, but it has taken me that long to work out how to use Lightroom. But, I am up and running now, so there will be more photos coming through.
We had a few weeks off after Open Garden and enjoyed the special place we get to call home. Looking back at old photos it is amazing to see how the azalea patch has filled out. A planted some new roses there, including this one, with a beautiful scent.
Our vegie patch was a roaring success with zucchini flowers in abundance. However, the tomatoes were a disaster. There would be a mass of nice green cherry tomatoes growing one day that we would make a mental note that we needed to pick in a few days when they ripen, but then they would disappear. Magically. We suspect a very fat, well fed possum.
The next open garden looms large on the horizon. We know it provides a focus for our efforts and we keep telling us that there is no pressure, the garden will be whatever it will be, but there are so many areas that we are embarrassed to show to others we just have to get stuck in and try to clean them up.
So, we have been weeding every weekend for 3 months now. A major assault on the wandering trad or the vinca major. First we cleared the wilderness at the bottom ofthe garden and the fence line. Then we pulled the vinca out next to the stone wall and re-cut 'Sam's Path', removing weed trees like polygala. I have dug out over 12 tree roots, most of them left from years ago, and have at least another 4-5 to go.
With the help of A's friend we have made a first pass along the fence line from the shed to the elm and cleared the vinca & firethorn trees from near the pool. Finally, the garden bed near the carport has been cleared and (finally) the box hedge has gone, which has been donated to another garden. The chainsaw comes out this weekend so we can remove all the weed trees or the trees that have died.
We have had the stone steps relaid, irrigation will be installed this month, then truckloads of mulch, before we can start planting. A has a Pinterest plan for each bed and a design in her head for what she would like to do. We are sure it will still be all too new for open garden, but at least it will be in and in a year or two start to take shape.
An area that has always frustrated us is the wilderness at the bottom of the garden. It has been allowed to grow wild for years and is covered in wandering trad, buttercup and geraniums that were climbing over the top of everything else.
We thought about spraying the lot, but we weren't sure what else we would kill. So it all had to come out by hand, with the expectation that we will be weeding again here for the next few years until it starts to come under control. Hiding amongst the the forest of weeds is a white rhoderdendron, xmas lillies, a white plectranthus and a spirea. Plus we will see what bulbs might now come up in spring.
It was very satisfying, but we have 3-4 loads of weeds to get to the tip next weekend. And a bit daunting to think that there are another 6-7 areas like this that we need to clean up before the next open garden. Lots of weekends ahead pulling weeds! My back is complaining already :)
Hopefully, A can now start to build her design and put her stamp on this beautiful garden.
Our Xmas drinks are always a hit. Since A and I met we have managed to catch up with all our friends in one big champagne & oysters session in December. Over the years it has grown from a few family & friends huddled together under a rotunda in a park after work, to an all afternoon affair with over 70 people and 50 dozen oysters! Yum:)
The move to Badgers Wood has changed our Xmas drinks in a way that I did not expect. We hold it under our large golden elm which provides a beautiful canopy and an almost magical atmosphere. There is still the fun of catching up with family & friends, of relaxing while the kids swim, but also a sense of enjoying a very special garden. Maybe it is the perfect weather or maybe it is the champagne(!), but I sometimes lose track of those around me as I look at the sun filtering through the leaves, the delicate branches and the depth of the tree that seems to go on forever. I feel very much a sesne of peace and happiness - as though you are part of the garden. Ok, it probably was the champagne.
It has also been wonderful to have many of our neighbours from Bickleigh Vale join with us. They are often the life of the party and stay on until it starts to get dark. When Edna created Bickleigh Vale her vision was to establish a village of like minded individuals with a passion for gardens. Nearly 100 years on, that is exactly what we have. A group of people brought together around a common interest, sharing, caring and enjoying life together. Our little oasis hidden amongst suburbia. Who would have thought that a garden could achieve that?
I was too busy drinking and eating oysters to take photos. But then mine would never be as good as these taken by Terence.
We have been very excited to have the ducks come to visit at the start of spring. It is usually just the two until the last day, when they obviously have a going-away party, with up to 8 or 10 having fun in the pool. Then they head off somewhere else and we don't see them for another year.
Some of our neighbours had little ducklings at the bottom of their garden - we were very envious. We would love to have cute little ducklings swimming around our pool. But I think we have obviously drawn the short straw when it comes to ducks. On the weekend we noticed this egg sitting precariously close to the water. We googled whether you could move an egg and how you could do that without getting your scent on the egg or moving it to a place that the duck could not find again. But by the time we had done our research the egg had rolled into the pool!! Yikes. An emergency dash to fish it out and place it on the lawn (carefully wiped with a cloth), only to have a nasty crow come by a little later to break open the egg!
No little ducklings for us it seems. Work has already begun on plans to build a fox proof, anti crow, duck birthing suite, without the bath option, for next year.
Or maybe we will start looking up duck egg recipes!