Sunday, 21 February 2010

Never too late

It seems that these pictures date from August 07. I mentioned the work in progress at the time, but by the time it was all finished, it seemed too late to put up pictures of diminishing undergrowth. Not for the first time, it seems I was wrong.

It's an odd garden, with no cohesiveness about it. There are some beds in a gravelled area in front of the house, a smallish lawn (for the size of the garden overall) at the side, separated by the drive from the beds, and the kitchen garden is the other side of the lawn and separated from that by the other side of the drive, which encircles the lawn (more of a tear-drop shape than a circle). Then there are various barns and a rough grassed area, and a scrubby shrubbery - it could be made beautiful I daresay, if you threw enough time and money at it, but we quite like living in the middle of a bit of wilderness and we'd sit uneasily in elegance and beauty.

Nevertheless, once in a while, one realises that something drastic needs to be done. The growth around the lawn had got quite out of hand, and trimming only showed that there was a whole lot of rubbish behind, which had been planted in front of rather than being cleared out properly (bad grammar? Indeed. Makes sense though). I had, the previous winter, cut the much-disliked laurel hedge to about 3 foot in height, but it had only made me realise that it had to come out altogether. It was so thick that it needed 15 or 20 feet of height to give balance, and it overshadowed everything and encroached on that side of the lawn. On the other side of the lawn, some lilacs would have to come out, which was a pity, but they were a thin border in front of a lot of dead wood.

This is the sort of thing I mean. Much of the wreckage was only visible once we'd cut down the lilacs. I cut them down with my trusty pruning saw and a helpful friend dug them out. The pictures showing the old fence were taken from the drive side. We were sorry to lose the old laburnum, which was ailing, but when it was cut down we realised that it wouldn't have lived much longer anyway.

In one of the pictures, you can see the granite blocks that now edge some of the paths in Dave's garden. You can also see the footings of the wall, which were put in a long time before we started building last May.

In another, you can see some dead elm saplings - the big elm tree fell victim to disease years ago, and since then suckers keep growing and then dying when they start to become trees, which is the fate of all English elms now. You can also see the wire we took out, remains of various fencing - the earliest, the Sage thinks, dates from before the drive was put in as when his parents bought this house in 1928, there was only a wire and a hawthorn hedge separating it from the field. The hawthorn was completely dead and almost rock-hard.

I left a fringe of lilac between the lawn and the field, which has thickened up in the past couple of years, and the little pightle at the pointed end of the tear-drop remains (a pightle is, in Norfolk, a small remnant of land, usually triangular in shape), which Weeza and Al remembered playing in when they were small, visiting their grandparents.
Stripped of ivy, the trunks of the wild plum trees are smooth and twisted.

That August wasn't all work - we went with the family to Southwold one day.

While I was having fun hacking and chopping, the Sage was busy preparing for the next auction.


DILLIGAF said...

I'm so so glad mine isn't the only 'out of hand' garden.

I love my garden but I deserted it about 4 years ago as the Union took over my life.

Now I'm free I have mournfully wandered through my jungle apologising to the plants, bushes and surviving fish in my pond.

(although the cats seem to quite like it as it is)

I will be restoring it to it's former glory this year!

Can't wait!

er..well I's a bit cold yet...;-)

Z said...

It all just takes over, doesn't it? Our trouble is, there's too much of it altogether. The garden is all so bitty that it's easy to not realise how big it is, and then you find there is a large patch of grass up to your waist that has to be scythed. Fortunately, I also like scything. I don't like keeping it all nice and tidy though.

I suspect the reason I didn't put the pictures up was embarrassment.

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Christopher said...

This beautiful, Z. There's a novel in all this somewhere... doesn't do for a garden to be too tidy. Little pockets (pightles?) of order in a green wilderness make for a much more fascinating garden than something manicured overall. One does not wish to live one's life and dream one's dreams in a municipal park.

Z said...

Well, it's still untidy. As I said, the chickens have scratched up the newly-growing grass. I don't mind that, but I'd be happier if we weren't attacked by brambles at every turn.

Dave said...

I must admit my garden is a little more structured, albeit I want the plants to grow together, very much in a cottage garden style - but as they're mostly perennials, this time of year they die back, so one can see the wood for the trees.

Mind you, my dream house will have a paddock at the bottom, which I will turn into a wildflower meadow - oh and beyond that a small wood. With a stream running through it.

Z said...

The bed in front of the drawing room window was planted with the intention of needing little or no weeding, ditto watering (in a sunny spot with sand and gravel soil), growing no more than 4 feet tall. 20+ years on, it's still doing fine. I ignore it, it ignores me, we're both happy. Mostly evergreen, a variety of leaf colours, flowers aren't the most important thing about the shrubs.

We've got most of the ingredients of your dream, Dave, but the wild flowers too easily are taken over by nettles.

martina said...

That was definitely a clearing project. Looks so much better in the post-work photos. I have 75 roses to prune next week-end. Want to come help?
p.s. that beer looks delicious.

Marion said...

The trouble is, you can work yourself to mental and physical exhaustion clearing stuff, and then just take a deep breath and its all right back and seems to be even hardier.

lom said...

I can't wait to see the up to date photos now, when the weather has picked up that is. I wish I had a big garden.

Dave said...

Not relevant to this post, but have you seen this?

Anonymous said...

Its all very green on this pictures. It is nice. That's all I can say, sorry.

Pat said...

Chaos is good for wild life as I'm sure you are aware.
I once replaced a laurel hedge with a mixed lavender hedge. Lovely.

Z said...

I remember when I got around to pruning roses, Martina. Nowadays, it's more a matter of hacking through the nettles so that we can see the roses.

I hate the daily keeping up, Marion, my life would be so much easier if I would do it.

Still pretty scruffy I'm afraid, LOM. And I'm too busy with vegetables in the spring to look at the rest of the garden. That's why I need a gardener.

I like green too, Mago. And that's my excuse, Pat. My ma-in-law did like her dull hedges - privet and laurel. I don't mind privet if it's allowed to flower, but otherwise I'd much rather have an open view - you can see over lavender and it's a pleasure to have as well.

Z said...

Interesting article, Dave - I certainly get at least as much sleep as when I was 35. Who has time to sleep when they are 35?