Aux armes citoyens

Manu at workMy ‘armes’ of choice this morning was a clatter of shovels. My citoyen was Manu.  He turned up on the dot of nine and we worked and worked and worked.

Shovelling soil and sand from the courtyard to all parts of the garden. That’s how it felt.

Manu broke his collar bone at Christmas, so was feeling the discomfort when lifting the heavy loads onto the gaps in the banks.  So I would nip in and shovel out the wondrous stuff.

The consquence of which is I can’t lift my own arms above my head tonight.  They had a workout.

We started with shovelling the sand that was lying all over the ground under the vines.

Six or seven wheelbarrow loads went up to the path behind the potting shed, which I very hastily relandscaped.  planted bank

The moles throw up a lot of soil right on the edge of the paths and over time it turns into a gentle slope rather than a flat path.  So I forked and shoveled like mad to keep up with Manu. Who was keen.

Then we moved on to filling the huge gap in the steep bank above the pool.

This took most of the contents of the pile that has lurked and lingered in the courtyard since October.

detail eragrostisThis is an after shot.  About one cubic metre of soil and gravel went onto the bank. Carefully smoothed off and landscaped.  And then at the very end of the day, planted up with eragrostis grasses.

And I can tell you it was with a strong sense of deja vu. I have planted this impossible bank four times in the past seven years. Or is it eight? Years that is.

I know it is four as I started clearing out the brambles.  Then tried to plant plug plants of wildflowers. (Spectacular waste of time and money.) cleared dining area

Next up was a variety of pannicum which didn’t survive either the parching drought that is this bank, nor the freezing winter.  And finally, after growing enough of the grasses from seeds, these eragrostis curvula.

And in October half of them were washed away along with the bank.  So here we are again. More grasses grown from seed, and others (the larger plants) looted from other parts of the garden.

I don’t dare think what I’ll do if these fail.  They tend not to,but they can sulk for a season or two. And by that time the weeds take hold.

Naturally spending so much time on the steep bank meant I needed to attend to the steps right beside them.

landscaped stepsThat’s the fun of repairing damage; you tend to do even more than is on your list.  Once again, the moles have created some wonky steps here with piles of soil which then seemed to sprout tussocks.

So I took all the grasses off, landscaped the soil and started again.

I’m almost out of grass seed, so will need to restock tomorrow.

And the soil that came off the steps went on to Alice’s path. The one at the top of the steep bank, and below the shade garde. As did yet more wheelbarrow loads of soil.

There are too many gravel stones as well. So one fine day when I’m bored (hah!) I’ll sit down and pick them all out of the soil.  But for now it was just time to weed the area, rake like mad, scoop the soil out of the wheelbarrow, and turn it into a good seed bed for the grass seeds.

And then just when I could barely stand up straight, we went down to the huge pile of soil below the pool and started filling in all the huge gaps in the track. weeded asparagus

Well. Manu did. I spent time raking out the piles he left right on the edge of the huge wall.  The track has taken a beating from the flood.  But all being well (and that means writing down on my to do list to sow grass seed here) the three feet from the wall all the way down (it’s about 60 metres) will turn into a grassy track rather than a weed infested mess.

Manu downed tools at 1pm, shattered. And I settled up and then beetled up to the asparagus bed to give it a quick weed.

I hadn’t planned to; I was actually just filling in the gap beside the steep steps of the top potager with random tussocks.  But I realised that as asparagus is my first crop of the year, I ought to be ready for it.

shade garden bank beforeIt’s weed free for now; but I want to mulch it over as soon as I get some mighty ground cover.  That will mean I can blithely ignore the whole area for at least a month. Bliss!

And just in case you think it’s all boast and tub thumping, here are some action shots of all the work that needs to be done.

I have to weed and move the grasses and replant about 30 thyme plants on the steep little bank below the shade garden.

And I’ve even spotted my next big project: the small steep bank that links the shade garden and the calabert (barn) garden. future project 1

It has a very impressive rock that needs to be released from the prison of grasses and brambles and weeds.

Talk about a glutton for punishment.

Still, I could use all the festuca glauca grasses as a filler for the gap beside the steps up at the top potager. But I can’t believe I’m already thinking of the next huge landscaping job.  Spring fever.