Sunday 05 May – May –be we’ll get a summer!

Again, no blog for 2 weeks and for much the same reason as before.  We have been busy but on things that either take a bit more time to achieve, or that don’t make for great images.

The advantage of the last couple of weeks however, is that the weather has been much kinder to us and, while perhaps not always warm spring sunshine, it has at least stayed relatively dry allowing us to make more progress outside – although still none with the pool …

However, in expectation that we would see our builders again in the drier weather, I focussed my efforts on clearing some of the debris of Storm Ciarán that I hadn’t managed to do yet.  The most significant bits of these were the branches of an oak tree next to the serre and 2 trunks of a horse chestnut that had fallen almost perfectly along the length of our back boundary on Stréat al Louarn. Removing these, I was able to rescue the young yew and holly that had been squashed under the trunk.  Thankfully they are still young enough to be flexible so they should bounce back OK.

This took a couple of days to achieve but has added to the large amount of wood we have seasoning in the serre with yet more to cut and split.  It has also generated more brash for us to shred – all good mulch for the garden when we can eventually get around to doing it.

The next task was to clear our rear talus, along Stréat al Louarn, as I had done along Hent Gorreker the previous week.

Along part of the talus, where they receive more light and rain, the yews and hollies we planted some years back could almost pass for a hedge.  In other stretches, primarily those which were under the large trees we felled last autumn in preparation for the pool, they are still much more spindly.  The leylandii which used to be there did create large areas of shade and probably sucked up most of the rainwater too meaning the hedging could not get established as quickly.

Now most of these trees have gone (there are still a few spindly sycamores and 2 horse chestnut trunks that we will take out this autumn), we hope that any root growth the yews and hollies had managed to put down over the last few years will mean they will roar away and catch up with the others.

From these pictures those who are familiar with our location will see that the commune have resurfaced the road.  As part of this work they also dug a drainage ditch at the base of our talus but, in doing so, have inadvertently caused some damage to some of the stonework.  Another job for me to do in the next couple of weeks to repair!

Last Sunday we managed one of our Sunday strolls but stayed quite local.  A couple of years ago we had met another British couple who had moved to St. Rivoal but we didn’t know them terribly well.  Over the last few months we have got to know them better and we joined them for a walk around St. Rivoal.

The couple, Becky and Tom, lived and worked in Paris for some years before buying and renovating their St. Rivoal house where they are now permanently.  While not quite self-sufficient (yet), they have adopted the good life and have a number of chickens and goats.  The goats routinely join them for their walks so last Sunday, the 4 of us were walking 3 dogs (they have a lovely lab called Chapeau) and 3 goats (Ollie, Châtaigne and Chou-fleur).

We have walked around St. Rivoal a couple of times before but not where we went this time and it was lovely.  We weren’t aware of how many old mills there had been in St. Rivoal, now ruins; how attractive the river was in the valley and we were taken to the crags on the opposite side of the valley that we had seen from the road many times but never ventured up to.

This week I have been back hedge cutting (I am almost finished – at least for a few months!) and clearing some space in the garden for Priory guests now the weather allows them to be outside.

I haven’t been able to mow the back lawn since October due to a combination of wet weather and the ridges and bumps created by the pool works.  One of the things the terrassier will do when the earthworks are finished, is to spread any remaining soil over the garden and level it.

Looking at the pictures of the trees immediately post-Ciarán the lawn still looks in a half-decent state (albeit with multiple molehills), but now the grass is longer than it has ever been and resembles a field rather than a lawn.

Other things in the garden continue to grow too and the box hedging around the flower beds seems to have put on more growth this spring than previous years as it too becomes more established.

The grass was too long to mow so initially I had to strim, then collect the cuttings before running over it with an old mower to bash down the molehills where I could.  It looks better and will green up again in time so Priory guests can have some tended space to enjoy!

It did allow me to then cut the box around the flower beds and they look great.  It will only be a couple of years before they have reached the height we want.

I finished the privet hedge behind Granary that runs along Hent Gorreker which I’d also started a couple of weeks ago, and made an effort to weed some of that space.  It still not may look great now but this little corner of the garden has probably changed more than most (assisted by Ciarán removing the telephone pole and a number of trees) as, when we arrived, it was just a wilderness of bramble, bracken and some knotweed. These photos show how it looked in 2015.

Having cleared the space as best we could in 2016, I planted a number of things to create a couple of hedges and then just left them to get on with it.  Now, we have something resembling an attractive boundary that will continue to improve over the next few years.

The other hedge I managed to get cut, evidently having not been able to last year, was the lonicera hedge between the garage and Stréat al Louarn.  This is another area that has changed massively since 2015.  When we arrived there was no talus or hedge and was one of our earlier projects to build.

The tiny lonicera cuttings I planted here grew extremely quickly, and continue to do so, so, having not been cut in over a hear, I had to cut quite deep and there are patches now with no leaf.  The beauty of lonicera is that it a tough plant and will grow back very quickly.

All I will need to do then is replace the lamps that got broken in Ciarán (where the bucket is keeping the electrical connection dry); split the large pieces of leylandii that we cut down last October; use the hardcore that used to be the old veg patch

No Sunday stroll for us today as we are hoping to resurrect our Wednesday walks with friends in the week.  The weather forecast looks pretty good too so should be another productive week ahead, we have even had contact with the pool team and, while we don’t expect them to be with us next week, there is a chance we’ll see them again in a couple of weeks. Fingers crossed!!