Sunday 6 October – Thorny issue

I said, at the end of last week’s blog, that autumns have often proven to be productive times for us in getting things done – and that it was about time we started making progress again.  Thankfully, this week we have made more progress than perhaps any previous one since the start of the summer season even with Dave’s parents with us and the changeable weather!

One entire day was spent taming the wisteria we planted a few years ago in front of Priory.  Evidently it likes the position we have chosen for it as it has grown considerably.  We always wanted a wisteria as they always look good growing over the front of an old building and are beautiful when fully in flower.

Having researched, we saw that there are 2 types of wisteria, Chinese and Japanese, one which twists clockwise and the other anticlockwise.  We knew that pretty much all commercially available plants are grated to ensure they flower.  Ours came from a local garden centre and we know that it flowers, as it did a bit this year, but it appears to have 2 grafted stems, one twisting clockwise and the other anti-clockwise so, it appears, that we may have got ‘lucky’ and have one of each!

This does however make things complex when it comes to training it.  Wisteria care I believed was extremely complex and, unless you get it right, the plant either doesn’t grow very happily and / or doesn’t flower as profusely as it could.  Despite having been given guidance from our keen gardening neighbour, I still don’t really know if I’m doing it right.  When I trained the thin leader shoots during the summer most of them died and so didn’t help form the shape I wanted.  I left the whole thing until now and it had become a mass of tangled and twisted shoots some of which were extremely long and starting to grow between the slate and under the roof tiles.

Having spent a long time trying to unwind the shoots carefully and choose the strongest and best placed to extend the frame eventually I became a bit more brutal.  It has at least now got to a size that I can start to train above the doors.   I only hope that next spring it is fairly forgiving, produces lot flower and continues to grow happily.

During the damper days of the week I continued to clear out the garage (heard that before have you?) but have managed to empty the end bay furthest from the house.

This has made us think again about what to put on the ground.  Initially we had planned on a system of sand, plastic (to prevent moisture rising through the floor) and gravel but now we favour a concrete floor.  We will do this ourselves but probably not for a couple weeks until we have a dry few days.

When it was, mostly, dry Dave and I also started to clear a(nother) forgotten corner of the garden, this one behind the Stable (which is now watertight again as our roofer did appear last Monday!)

The area immediately behind Stable is a little out of sight, out of mind, so we hadn’t done anything to it other than dump branches we cut down a few years ago before we had the ability to cut them up easily or transport them to the déchetterie.   As a result the brambles had taken over and were the only things growing there.

While it had always been on our list to clear this area, it has now become the focus as we have asked a tree surgeon to come and remove all of the trees on that boundary.  Before he can do this he asked us to clear the brambles from underneath.  It is always sad losing trees but these are predominantly self-set sycamores (i.e. BIG weeds) which haven’t grown to form a nice shape and, being on top of a talus (stone wall) may not be as well anchored as they could be so vulnerable to a big storm in the future.  Taking them out this year removes any risk and ensures we get more light into the garden.  We will replace them with other, more interesting tress – elsewhere!

Rather than just cut the top of the brambles off, we have begun to dig out as much of the root as possible which, as you can see, has unearthed lots more slate which I can use to build another wall.  Removing the roots will help prevent them growing back too quickly and we will also mulch with chippings of the tree branches when they are felled.  This may not happen for a few weeks, months potentially but it will be a big change and we will certainly show you in my blogs.

Just clearing the bramble off the front wall has made Kergudon visible from that part of Hent Gorreker so, in the spring, we will plant some new hedging and cut back the old buxus and privet which is there which should create a lovely hidden spot behind Stable for a terrace that we will build.  Something else to add to the list!

Finally, I mentioned in the last blog that the commune had plans to resurface Hent Gorreker and they did so this week.  It looks pretty good – let’s see how long that lasts – and has allowed me to tidy the front access to Stable and use a small amount of the gravel pile on our drive for the first time in a while!

Good momentum gained this week, my fear is that it may be lost again next as the weather looks decidedly iffy!