Chestnut fencing in an orchard

How do I look?

Most of the fence is up.

Well, I am ten metres short of being a garden designer and a slave to the aesthetics of a rural orchard. But that will have to wait.

It is wonky in parts. Secured with wire rather than hammered in nails. But it might, might deter a grazing beast.

I simply refuse to prize up any more of my lovely fence just to complete the entire orchard. I don’t have the fingers or muscles left. But I yearn for a bit more.

Here’s the picture.

Down came the fence in a roll. I can roll and haul about eight metres of the stuff before my eyes pop and my shoulders really ache.

And then David very kindly wielded mattock and pick to position the fence posts.

Not an easy job in this compacted stone fest of a ground.

Up went the roll. Mind the iris! Oh, too late. Oh well, they will grow again. And sorry about the ballota lacerations. Who knew the old branches of this lovely mediterranean shrub could be so harsh?

Then I had the fun job of piecing together the rest of the fence.

Bits had slid out of their wire supports during the dragging.

It was a rather pleasant morning chore – a kiddies pick-up sticks job and slide them back into the wire.

Then once the lower orchard fence was done, up I went – hauling two separate bits of fence to the duck pond up the track. (Picture those strong man tournaments where the hero has to haul a sea of old car tyres tied together behind him like a raft.)

But curses, my job was uphill.

We had originally positioned the electric fence tape around the first stand of trees near the pool. It’s the original boundary marker between two bits of land. A handsome ash, some elder and oak.

But I am a realist. If I can’t get a free flowing run of mowing an expanse of grass, I just know I will neglect.

And if the fence is here I will leave a wilderness behind the barrier. It is only twenty metres of land wide – the stone terrace delineates one edge, a beautiful pilgrim pathway the far end.

That’s Jean Daniel’s land.

And there is the next stone terrace below to the south. Where the deer live in under the bramble jungle. And where I am often found heaving weeds too pernicious for my compost heap. Egads, what a fess up! But many of us have these hidden areas where bindweed and nasty tap roots go to die.

Here is that patch of land as it used to be.

That leaning tree is the second last white mulberry tree used for the silkworm production way back in the 17th century. (I know, sorry it looks so unremarkable.)

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Thank goodness the last white mulberry on the lower terraces (also positioned near a spring) is a mighty beast. Goodness only knows how these two escaped the Phytophthora that wiped out the crop in the 1700s. (It’s possible they were planted much later after the production ended. Anyone who can age trees do step up and oblige.)

And you can help us with the age of this chestnut just below the mulberry.

It has quite the girth. And is even still alive, if not thriving.

But around that mulberry it was a sorry sight. If I do a quick delve back into the dark days of weed control you can see.

We had a makeshift fence of stacked logs.

And a marvellous expanse of dirt. Followed swiftly by a thicket of brambles and pioneering weeds in spring.

I worked at this for a few solid years…

And am pretty darn pleased with the result. I don’t fancy it returning to the jungle it once was.

So I paced myself further back into this lush bit of garden where the spring feeds the mulberry and the wild animals and put up another straight line of tape.

Only five more metres into the area. But it might work.

And I can leave a gap at the mulberry so the badgers, hedgehog and deer can nip through. But hopefully not a mad thrashing toddler of a horse.

I have staggered up with the fence. And sort of draped it over the tape.

I need more fence posts. I need more muscles. I need a break from this tedious project.

And you all need to see something a little more interesting and less brown and stick-like.

Next time.