[Here you are Christine, I’ll save you waiting another day]
I’m going to fling lots of pictures at you but in teensy tiny images so you won’t be too shocked.
Normally in winter the job of cleaning out the fireplace and removing the ash falls to me. I sweep it up and then put it in the fire bucket. And then leave it outside in the bread oven area for about a week before sifting it for lumps and sprinkling it around my fruit trees.
As I was away, David attended to all the farm chores.
And emptied the whole bucket of ash and (unbeknown to him) embers onto the compost heap.
This sits at the very top of my potager against the stone wall.
Built of wooden pallets, beside a wooden chestnut fence. Beside a whole bank of grasses.
Below a whole garden of shrubs.
And like many people in rural areas in winter, he didn’t realise that the embers were still very much firing. And the compost heap caught fire.
And spread and spread and spread.
Grasses regenerate after a fire.
The treasured shrubs at the top of the garden won’t.
My choiysia Aztec Pearl, three santolinas, a beloved Pistachio… rosemary, lavender and the big one – that viburnum tinus you can see turning a fantastic shade of burnt orange.
Ballota, stachys… you name it. It has died.
And worst of all the cypresses that were on the bank among the grasses.
Some are scorched, others have carked it.
And I have been watering like mad and hope that some might spring back into a teensy bit of growth.
As soon as I see signs I will whoop for joy. Or just weep with relief.
We pulled down the burnt chestnut fence.
And boy does it hide a lot of mess. That must have been why I put it up over a decade ago.
Those circular bits at the bottom.. they were the miscanthus hedge.
We can just pause there for a moment to reflect on the amazing damage that fire can wreak on a garden.
And I know that with time, many things might revive.
But I don’t have time. The age of 60 is looming.
And I certainly didn’t need to add to my voluminous work load and have to rebuild this part of the garden.
It’s a huge area and right in front of one’s eyes.
But it was an accident. And it won’t happen again.
What do people say, ‘I’m not angry, I’m just very, very disappointed.’
We put up a horizontal line of chestnut logs to try and delineate the space. That will help the eye as it sweeps up the bank.
But what vexes me most (apart from losing a twelve year old Choiysia)
Here it is last year…
…is that this was one steep and unwieldy bank that I feel I have finally conquered.
Ornamental grasses and cypress verticals poking out of the sea of waving lovely-ness. It was quite the challenge getting anything but brambles to grow there.
Oh well. That’s gardening for you.
At least I have nice photos of the shrubs flowering like mad last year.
I’ll take cuttings and shift plants around and try and recreate some of the lush gravel garden look I finally achieved.