Sunday 28 March – Magnolificence

Last week’s blog said that I had spent most of the previous 7 days rebuilding the front talus and that I needed another couple of days to complete the job.  Do you see where this might be going …?!

It also showed an image of a number of new plants we had bought to add to the garden and said that one was a special one, I will start this week’s blog with why that is.

In 2019 we had a couple stay with us in Hayloft for 4 weeks which was, and remains, the longest period of time guests have stayed with us at Kergudon.  Our guests were seasoned travellers who live (at least for 6 months of the year) in Minnesota and then spend the other 6 months travelling – sounds like a perfect life to me!

The couple, Judith and Vern Blyckert, are retired but before retirement, Judith was a French teacher and university lecturer so they have spent a lot of time in France, but not so much in Brittany.  Staying with us for 4 weeks, we got to know them relatively well and they became good friends.

With the COVID pandemic last year their wings were clipped and, as everyone, their travel plans were changed.  Knowing that the tourist industry was to be among those hardest impacted by the national lockdowns and travel restrictions imposed, Judith and Vern made a very kind, and unexpected, gesture to us and we wanted some way to thank them.

Blyckert Magnolia planted in view of Hayloft

This magnolia (magnolia leonard messel) is our way of saying thank you.  We had always planned to have an attractive tree as the centre of the orchard lawn, visible from the Hayloft, and this what we have chosen.  Unbeknown to us, magnolias were also Judith’s Mum’s (or I guess Mom’s more appropriately!) favourite tree, so it is even more appropriate and perfect.  As this grows it will be a permanent reminder to us.  Thank you Judith and Vern – we really hope to be able to welcome you back to Kergudon again when the world returns to normal!

Last week’s blog also stated that the talus rebuild needed a couple more trailer loads of soil and another 2 days to complete.  Depending on what you consider is the talus rebuild work, this might be true, although it is now complete and has taken most of this week too.

I actually needed another 4 trailers of soil to get the depth that I thought was sensible but the time has been spent with all the other essential bits.  These included shredding the willow branches that we had felled and planting 2 of the shrubs we had bought in their new home.  I mentioned last week that having cut down the old Christmas tree and willow, there is an electricity pole which is more visible from the garden.  To try and hide this we have planted another magnolia, magnolia grandiflora little gem this time, which will grown to hide the pole and, hopefully, not threaten the wires.

New planting behind our repaired talus

We have also started planting the top of the talus to create a hedge. We have ordered a number of lonicera plants to create the same hedge all across our frontage with Hent Gorreker, although disappointingly they have not yet been delivered. Tomorrow, we’re told. However, we happened to have some other loniceras left over from last year’s planting behind the hydrnagea bed, which we had potted. The idea was to add them in when we fell the last of the trees behind Stable but we have used them here as they are more advanced, and will retain some of the new plants when they are delivered.

First lonicera planted on our repaired talus

Other tasks were clearing the surplus slate and stone I had unearthed and not reused in the construction.  Last week’s blog mentioned that the next really major project needed a lot of slate but I won’t say too much about it as it is unlikely to happen for a while.  What I can say, is that it will be at the front end of our drive so we have ‘stored’ the surplus slate as close to where it will eventually be used as possible.

This has meant clearing an area in front of Dairy where we have stacked a lot of wood we have cut when felling the apple trees from the orchard as well as other random items.  This has meant this area has never been as pretty as we would have liked, especially as it is at the entrance to Kergudon and so the first thing any arriving guests see – first impressions count!  With the wood and other items cleared it is now a stone store!  A little bit prettier and will be more so when we throw away the old poêle we took out of Priory in 2016.

Dairy frontage repurposed – wood cleared, stone added

What has also taken longer is the mission creep we spoke about last week.  Having moved the wall 50 cms or so to widen the access to Stable, it left an odd bit where the soil met the ground and didn’t look very attractive.  I wanted to do something to create a clear distinction between the 2 – and a small wall was the answer (again!)

Entrance to Stable widened and complete

The only other task I have started which, as the talus, it is obvious will take longer than I’d hoped(!) is to tame the ‘jasmine’ on Hayloft’s front terrace.

The first year we were here we wanted to hide the fence panels between the terrace and the drive and we wanted some beautifully scented jasmine to do that.  Unfortunately, what we planted, while it looked like jasmine and had a name in the jasmine family (Solanum jasminoides) it has no scent at all.  While not what we wanted, it was evidently very happy as it has grown rapidly and looks amazing when it is flower with huge numbers of while flowers (sadly, I can’t find a picture of it in flower) but now we want something scented.

Hayloft terrace before the ‘jasmine’ is tamed

With the other plants we bought last week are 2 jasmine plants that, we are assured by the nursery, should be highly scented and have beautiful yellow flowers.  Before we planted them I had to have a hack at the Solanum jasminoides, which we believe (hope) will recover well.  The reason the job may take longer than anticipated is, when digging the hole for the new plants, I came across, and broke, a hidden drainpipe in a position we did not expect to have any pipes.

Hayloft terrace having cut back the false jasmine

Initial investigations suggest this pipe is unused and may be a redundant left over from years before however, I want greater confirmation this is the case before I plant the jasmine.  Thankfully, and it’s amazing what things we’ve had to acquire for the gîtes, we have a drain camera that I can use to see if the pipe is connected to anything.  Unfortunately, when I wanted to use it, the battery was dead so it is on charge and this will be picked up tomorrow.

Mystery pipe in Hayloft’s terrace – we think (hope) redundant!

We have a couple of other things in the pipeline (no pun intended!) to make sure Hayloft remains the most amazing little gîte for a couple to spend some amazing time in.  Perhaps we will be able to show you some next week.

Next week looks like we will have some amazing weather so hopefully more garden activity – but also opening Stable for the season as it is occupied for Easter.