Sunday 07 March – Marching forward

Where did that week go?!  Time seems to take on an odd form at Kergudon.  Guests often comment on how time passes at a slow, leisurely pace when they are relaxing and enjoying there time here.  For us, we seem to already be hurtling through the year and the weeks are passing quicker and quicker!

With the weather being pretty decent for much of the week we spent most of our time outside.  For me this was focussed on one area on the west side of the orchard – and mowing the grass twice!

The talus on the west side of the orchard (we still call it that despite there only being one apple tree left and that too is on the ‘to fell’ list!) is where we had a number of large sycamores felled in autumn 2019.  When we arrived, under the sycamores were a bank of large hydrangeas that had grown enormous despite being robbed of light from above.

Hydrangeas are very popular plants here as they thrive in the conditions and, here being slate and acidic soil, they can be a stunning blue colour.  In the first year we managed to cut them hard back and planted a couple of other ericaceous shrubs including camelias and rhododendrons.

The advantage of them being so huge before was that they helped suppress the weeds underneath but also prevented any sort of hedge growing on the boundary.

Since their first hard cutback we haven’t managed to be consistent in controlling them each spring.  However, being a bit smaller the cow parsley and bramble had started to establish themselves in the bed – the bramble being helped by long shoots growing from our neighbour’s field which root easily where they make contact with the ground.

Boundary talus to clear and cut the hydrangeas

Where the hydrangeas had grown large (and they do quickly) they had smothered the new shrubs we had planted so they hadn’t grown very much or very evenly.

The weather here does seem to allow things to grow quickly so, as well as the hydrangeas getting large again, the sycamore stumps had sprouted hundreds of new shoots and a forest of sycamore seedlings had germinated.  Thankfully, most of the lonicera plants we had planted during the first confinement last year seem to have established and will become a decent hedge in years to come.

My principal effort was spent clearing through this bed, cutting back the hydrangeas; digging out as much of the bramble as I could; cutting the new shoots from the sycamore stumps and shaping the hedging (such as it is) on the talus.  As long as we manage to keep on top of the bed and tidy it up a couple of times a year, it should be become an attractive boundary to the garden.

We also had to massively reduce the height of the 2 existing hedges on the driveway side of the orchard when we arrived.  While we have managed to cut these at least once in each subsequent year, the height had been slowly creeping up so we have decided to reduce the height of these again – this time slightly lower than where we took them in 2015.  I have made a start and will continue with this next week.

One day was spent away from Kergudon but still planning on developing the orchard.  I’ll tell you more about that in a couple of weeks.

This morning we awoke to bright sunshine and clear blue skies, so we decided to do one of our Sunday strolls and head somewhere new, on the north coast, starting at the hamlet of Ménéham.  Sadly, as we were driving north the skies became much cloudier and when we got there, there was a strong cold breeze blowing.  We didn’t cancel our walk, it was the best way of keeping warm(!) but it did mean that we didn’t loiter at the amazing houses within the rocks that Ménéham is known for.  We will come back and do that when the weather improves as they look interesting.

Ménéham house, Finistère

Our walk took us on a circuit from Ménez Ham inland and east to Brignogan where we picked up the coastal path back to Ménéham.  I was not familiar with this part of the coast but it is very attractive with beautiful golden sand beaches and fascinating rock formations scattered everywhere on and off shore.  Most of the old, and some of the new, buildings are built close by these rocks and we found a number of hamlets which have thatched houses – something that seems to be very unusual in France.  Another interesting area to explore.

Next week, it appears that the brief spell of spring weather will be replaced with more stormy conditions.  That will dictate what I can progress.