Sunday 5 April – Spring Drought

Last week’s blog said that the dry weather would allow us to complete the shredding of our felled sycamores and get back to work in Priory.  Neither turned out to be the case!

The weather did remain dry and we did continue the shredding.  The blog said that there were probably 3 days left to complete the task and after a day and a half we had pretty much broken the back of it.  Then we also broke the shredder!  This was really irritating, especially as the cause was something really silly and completely avoidable.  However, thankfully, the problem is minor, easily rectified and the spare part required is very cheap.  Sadly, remaining under lockdown, we had to order online for it to be delivered and it won’t be here for at least 2 weeks!

As part of the clearing, we cut down the last of the sycamores on the boundary between us and our neighbour – the ones that were small enough for David and I to do together and not have to pay the tree surgeon.  A few years ago I planted a number of lonicera cuttings I’d taken in the hope that they would put their roots down and get a head start for when we were in the position we are now.  Now they are getting lots more light and water, we hope, they will roar away and we won’t be have quite such an open boundary for very long.  We will need to buy a few more when current restrictions are lifted to plug the gaps – with some more attractive, interesting and appropriately sized trees to replace the sycamores.

I have also cut down some tall, but skinny, myrtle trees which were on the talus behind Stable.  Myrtle makes a great hedge when controlled but takes a long time to get established.  We hope, having cut down these trees they will sprout again at the base and start to form a proper hedge which we will augment with some more lonicera which is just faster at establishing itself.

You will have to use some imagination here, but the small area behind Stable, a garden-waste dumping ground before our arrival, we plan to make into a private terrace space for the B&B.  Having cut down the sycamores it now gets some sunshine in the summer afternoons and will be a lovely place to relax.  This won’t be for a couple of years until the hedges are a little larger ensuring it is private, and also as we will need to dig some of it out with the digger and I can’t access it yet with the large pile of wood we have created!

We have managed to clear a lot of the lawn area so were able to give more of the orchard a mow.  It is amazing how lumpy the ground has become where the large trees were felled onto it, and there are large areas where the grass has completely died as lots of ivy prevented any light getting to it.  We are confident it will recover if only – and after the winter we have just had I can’t believe I am saying this – it would rain!

The forecast has been great for doing gardening but not so good to let the grass green up quickly.  We are expecting a few showers this evening but, every time I look at the met website, the amount of rain predicted is getting less and less.

Being dry and unable to shred we turned our attention to weeding principally.  David focussed on the large bed we have created in the orchard which he has cleared and used practically all the shreddings to mulch; I recommissioned the pétanque area which had become to resemble a wild flower meadow rather than a boules pitch.

We were also able to cut a few hedges before bird-nesting season begins in earnest, including the box around the champignon beds.  I mentioned last year that we feared some of the privet enclosing the Granary garden was starting to die but we wouldn’t know for sure until this spring.  Well, sadly, we were right and more than we had hoped has packed up.  We have therefore decided to insert some griselinia cuttings into the parts of the hedge which are dying / have died as it seems to like our conditions and we have had a lot of success with cuttings in the past.  We used it for the hedge around the pétanque pitch which was planted in February 2016 and, you can see from the pictures then and now, that it grows quickly and well.  The February 2016 pictures show a much better lawn!

With the dead privet removed, Granary garden is again a little more open that we’d like, but, IF we get some rain and the cuttings take successfully, we hope to have a half decent hedge in a few years.

Other for some minor things Priory has not been the focus but, while there is still LOTS left to do outside, and the forecast remains incredibly dry, I may resume for a few days next week and move things forward.

We remain on restricted movements until at least 15th April, and we suspect even longer, probably until early May, but we remain healthy and busy.  We hope everyone is well, virus free, and able to live as normal a life as possible whatever you do.  Stay healthy.