Sunday dawned cold, clear and beautiful.

We managed to spend most of the day out in the garden, tidying and processing what we could for re-use elsewhere.  I filled bag after bag with old bits of plastic from the slowly dwindling heaps of building detritus and around the garden where it had crept, while King of the Hill lit a bonfire at the bottom of the garden on a dormant part of our vegetable beds, and fed it with all the wood and burnable matter that he could extricate from the wreckage that was unsuitable as fuel for our fires.

We then turned our attention to continuing to process the branches that we cut from three of our trees over the winter, and more of the bigger timber that King of the Hill brought home a few weeks ago. We kept the bonfire fed throughout the day with the scrappy branches that were too small or weak for kindling or pea-sticks.

Several times throughout the day, a buzzard wheeled overhead, tantalisingly close, giving its keening cry, “kewl kewl” , as it no doubt tracked some unsuspecting creature in the fields around us.

By the end of the afternoon, we had made good progress in reducing the heaps of rubble and wood, with a neat pile of birch branches reserved for pea-sticks, another wheelbarrow full of kindling, and the mass of branches to cut diminished satisfactorily. We could once again see the remains of grass in places that hadn’t seen daylight for some time! When we have finished filtering through the rubbish to leave just the rock/stone/brick detritus we can then use this as hardcore to build up a path around the house and a patio at the back. It’s a huge task, but little by little we are starting to win…

As I cut back the autumn raspberry canes to the ground, King of the Hill laid down some black plastic sheeting in the far corner of our vegetable patch, to start to warm the earth up there ready for planting, and suppress the weeds.

As we cleared more ground closer to the house, I uncovered another row of forgotten primroses in the shadow of an overgrown woody lonicera nitida hedge that is marked for removal imminently.

Beside them, I raked out a mass of decaying crocosmia leaves, to expose the new growth pushing tentatively up towards the light.

A not-yet-hanging basket of muscari and dwarf narcissi that stands by the greenhouse was full of vibrant new shoots.

And the cobnut and purple filbert that we planted a year ago as bare root plants both had wonderful fat buds forming.

We planted these to form part of the boundary hedge at the bottom of the garden. The cobnut stands in the very corner, while the purple filbert is a few feet away. Both are still very small – not helped by last summer’s cows leaning over from the adjacent field to nibble them both. The cows made short work of pulling out most of the native bare root hedging that we planted along the bottom and side boundary too, making our intended regeneration of the hedge rather hard work. The farmer kindly put up electric fences later in the summer, when the cows started reaching further in to some of our crops, but the damage was already done…  We shall put more thought towards the situation this year.

All in all, it was another exhilarating day in the garden, starting to recapture some space. As we worked, we frequently came upon patches of ice that never thawed in the low temperatures, and I could barely feel my poor feet by the time we called it a day. (More socks, next time!) But it was so uplifting to feel the sun shining brightly overhead, and more and more plants responding to it with the start of their spring finery.


10 thoughts on “Reclamation

  1. Sounds like a wonderful day all round. Your pile of birch branches ready to be used as pea sticks rather puts mine in the shade 😉 I’m also jealous that your crocosmia is already showing signs of growth, surely you should be behind me, gardening in North Wales as you do?! Ah, the vagaries of climate and other conditions… Congrats on the progress, altogether a big project when you include hardcore for paths and patio. Good luck on the cow control front, I felt so sorry for your poor munched would-be hedge.

    • Our crocosmia has been very sheltered, on one side by the mass of bloated hedge, in front by piles of rubbish and topped off with its own decaying leaves that I couldn’t get to clear away any sooner! Suspect our climate is not too different to yours; we’re in South Wales so just a hop over the border from Gloucestershire. Although we have our own microclimate on top of our hill, and we certainly see the worst of the winds up here! Yes we’re getting closer to the serious bits of landscaping now; driveway, paths, patio and fences. Once that’s done (and a few other bits and pieces) and we finally finish painting the house we can at last leave the building site days behind us… I cannot wait! Somewhere beneath all the rubble is a garden!The cows do frustrate me rather. At the minute we have sheep which are much less invasive, and a delight to watch… x

  2. I know how you feel about getting out there I really enjoyed my couple of short days in the garden last week, very wet and windy today,
    cows are worse than sheep as they are taller and can reach further, cows, deer, sheep, rabbits they are all out to eat our gardens, sorry about your hedge, I have tried to grow a mixed native hedge here but lots of plants although the ‘experts’ say they are wind tolerant they are not south westerlies tolerant, I planted 5 hazel nut trees but found out later they prefer an alkaline soil mine is acid, as always I’m learning most by experience, it sounds like you have a lot of work but one day you will be able to look back at what you have achieved, Frances

    • Yes I definitely prefer the sheep! So far we have somehow escaped any rabbit attacks, though I’m sure I see them over the far side of the neighbouring field, but our veg has been untouched for two years by anything as large as a rabbit! Suspect our winds are not so harsh as yours, it does blow a lot up here, but we’re a few miles from the coast. Hmm, suspect our soil is more acidic than alkaline judging by the rhododendron and azalea we found in the garden, but there are a lot of hazels in the hedgerows round here, so perhaps they are not so fussed about their soil after all?

  3. Sounds like some serious hard labour took place this weekend… Isn’t it funny how when you chop down a tree (or its branches) it / they always seem to treble in volume?

    I wish I lived near enough to pop round and blag some pea-sticks off you! I’m thinking of looking for a place that sells (+ delivers) hazel boughs for bean-poles. Last year there was a “National Bean Pole Week”. I wonder if it’s an annual event.

    • Indeed, branches take up so much more space on the ground than in the air!

      We’ll be coming your way in a few weeks, but it’s a bit of a flying visit so I’m not sure we’ll have the chance to load the car up with branches and get them to you. Hazel boughs sound great for bean poles – much nicer than bamboo.

      National Bean Pole Week has been kept very quiet, sounds good fun 😉

  4. Sara
    Looks like you had a very productive weekend, it was a great day for getting out thats for sure, just wish I had the garden I dream of so I could get stuck in! I’ve recently found your blog and have been reading through some of your archives, very interesting reading and your pictures really add to it, what a lovely view you have. I haven’t managed to read all yet but just wondered how the cats are settling in?

    • Hi Alison,
      Thank you for dropping by and commenting. Nice to “meet” you. Looks like you are just starting an exciting adventure to find your dream house and garden, I look forward to catching up and reading all about it – best of luck! We are really lucky with our location. Would love more garden, for more plants, and particularly for an orchard and somewhere to keep ducks or chickens, but what we have is going to be lovely (I hope!) if relatively modest in size.
      Thanks for asking after the cats. They are really settling in; becoming much more confident. They race about the house, purr at the first stroke or the sight of food, and are starting to creep towards our laps if we sit down for long enough. In a week they will have their remaining vaccinations, and then we can start to let them outside a week or so after that, which we (and they!) are really looking forward to – they love the smell of outside, and playing among the logs that we bring in to burn. Amazing how much fun two cats can have with a piece of bark!

  5. Sounds like a really rewarding day. I love it when you plod away at a job and when you finish you can see a real difference. I think we have started to turn the corner at the allotment, well when I say ‘we’ I mean my parents!! The sun is shining brightly here today and I am hoping that it will be the same at the weekend so I can have a satisfying day too.

    Oh by the way we have buzzards as well – I love the sound they make. They even hunt birds in our garden despite us living on a small housing estate!!

    • Great work. Well done – to you and your parents! We have lots of rain forecast towards the end of the week, suspect it’s quite widespread, but fingers crossed it dries up again at the weekend and you can get lots done on your allotment.
      We often see buzzards around here too, though not usually so close to our garden; they’re usually following the brook or soaring across the fields – they are very impressive birds in flight, though i suspect the smaller birds don’t agree 😉

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