Sunday 21 April – Spring may have sprung

I didn’t post a blog last week as, while we had been busy, our work had been lots of small but necessary tasks that don’t make for great pictures.  To some degree the same is true of this week too but I have been able to do a couple of things where you can see some progress as we have been helped with much drier, if colder, weather.

I mentioned at the end of my previous blog, that we had started to give Granary a deep spring clean and repaint the bathroom ceiling following last year’s flood.  We completed Granary for guests who arrived last weekend.  The same family had reserved Priory, Granary and Stable and had a great weekend ‘en famille’ benefitting from the first warm dry weekend of the year.

We capitalised too and dusted off the BBQ and firepit for our first dinner al fresco of the year which, as previous years, we had on Hayloft’s terrace as our own is still a bit of a state having been dug up to instal the water pipe to the pool.

We also enjoyed a warm and dry Sunday stroll last week but, because Garratt had been very stiff and limped (again!) during the previous week, we chose to do one of our shorter, familiar, walks around Logonna-Daoulas.  This is one of our favourite walks along the coast of the Rade de Brest which, although only an hours walking, takes in town, woodland and beach.

The last week has been the driest of the year so far (finally!) and has allowed me to get back in the garden and continue to cut the hedges that I didn’t get a chance to last year.

At this time of the year I am extremely careful to check any of the hedges for nesting birds before I start cutting.  Living where we do, there are a number of cats around, including our own – Mouse, but there are also lots of other, safer, places for the birds to nest nearby, generally in the forest, so we don’t get many setting up home in our hedges and I was able to progress.

One of the hedges I’ve started (again) is one I haven’t cut for a few years but began on a rare dry day a couple of weeks ago.  I mentioned then that I needed permission from our neighbours to access it from their garden.  They were happy for me to do that and I finally managed to continue last week.

The hedge is on the southwest corner of the garden and is principally lonicera which makes a great, dense, evergreen barrier – if I am able to cut it at least annually.  Having neglected it for a couple of years the lonicera had become too  high and had collapsed in places under its own weight, and the sycamore stumps had sprouted multiple new shoots which needed to be removed.

As ever, not being able to cut the hedge as frequently as we want, when I am able to get around to it, it takes more time to achieve.  We are happy with the end result although I still have half the hedge to trim and lots of shredding of the cut material to do.

The other hedges I was able to tackle were behind Granary and along our boundary with Hent Gorreker.

We planted a griselinia hedge behind Granary at the same time as we did around what became the pétanque pitch.  We used the same sort of cuttings in both places but the Granary hedge took much longer to establish and grow as it didn’t get as much sunshine.  However, in the last couple of years it has reached that point when it grows very quickly and so needs to be  maintained.  This year was its first proper cut and it looks a lot better for it.  What you can’t quite see in the pictures is the large amount of wood which we still need to split, cut and shred before the season proper!

The griselinia hedge ends on Hent Gorreker where it joins more lonicera, holly and yews that we planted in our first couple of years – all of the holly and some of the yew having been ‘acquired’ from the Saint Cadou forest!

The yew and holly are by nature, slow to become established.  The lonicera normally less so but, as the griselinia, it was under some large willow and oak trees (now removed courtesy of Storm Ciáran last year) so it too had not grown at the pace you would normally expect.

Slowly however, they are growing and this year needed a trim and tidy up, which I do try and do each spring, as too the many yew plants we have planted along the length of the lane. I have only cut on the Hent Gorreker side and not yet from inside the garden so the first picture shows part of the hedge still needing to be reduced in height.

I also try and clean up the face of the talus and remove the ivy, bramble and other weeds that grow in the joints between the stones and destabilise them as their roots expand.  The talus is very attractive and looks so much better when clear although it has suffered where previous ash trees had been allowed to grow as the roots have forced the stones apart.

Eventually we will have a boundary hedge we will be proud of!

The weather allowed us to have our second BBQ of the year last night although there was a cold easterly wind blowing which meant the firepit was more essential than being purely decorative; and allowed us a dry and almost warm Sunday stroll today.

We chose a new location for us from one of our books and headed to Ploudalmézeau, again near the coast north of Brest.  The walk started in the Jardin de Moulin Neuf which is a lovely public park, gardens and petting zoo which itself is worth a visit.

Today’s walk was a 12½ kilometre circuit which headed north to the coast and a beautiful bay and beach by Doulanoc.  As most of our walks we passed a small Breton chapel with its associated fontaine, this one in the hamlet of Kerlanou, and, while we didn’t walk to the island where it was situated, we saw more prehistoric remains on the Île Carn which were a burial cairn and covered alley.

Next week’s activities will, as ever, depend significantly on the weather and, at least for the first few days, it looks settled and dry (for the most part!)