The duck pond – how to borrow from your neighbour’s landscape

Ah yes, the part of the farm that is not ours. Don’t you just love a borrowed landscape?

This area is at the far east of the property, abutting the lawn and beyond the swimming pool.

When we first moved here, this small (small for this garden) bit of land, measuring about 200 square metres was full of brambles and dead trees.

Now there’s a surprise.  Brambles. Mess.  We had a few trees that needed cutting  near where we were building the swimming pool.

Chestnuts, self seeded elderflowers. The usual suspects. So we just stacked the wood along what we thought was the border of our property.

And for three years I just ignored what was growing over the other side of the log pile.

Our previous owners had put this part of land to use as there was a spring here. You can see it underneath the leaning mulberry tree. The Reinharts fenced this in and used it for yet more poultry. In this instance, ducks. This was the duck run.

Hence the French term mare a canard. Or canardiere.  I just stuck to calling it the Duck Pond as I can ever find the accent grave for that e on canardiere on this wordpress package. Well, I can, ‘canardière‘, but it’s laborious, and I’m lazy.

All the neighbours around here asked if I was going to do anything with the duck pond, and it took me years to actually think, I could do better than just brambles here.  And there was the issue of a good supply of running water.  It wasn’t much, and it tended to just dribble out the pond and make the land below boggy.  But I had to come up with something.

First up the wall of logs came down. Wheelbarrowed to the barn for use as firewood. And out came the strimmer.

I seem to recall back in March 2010 (I had to look up my diary) that I was struggling with the huge mess of brambles and dead branches, and was lamenting the lack of staff who could shift this with me.

And the very next day Nicolas, our wall builder, rang to say he was desperate for work, and did I, by any chance, need help?

Did I? Oh yes. It took two full days, but the whole place was cleared and reduced to bare earth.

Now bare earth is just asking for trouble. So I quickly sowed the entire area with grass seed.  And mowed carefully for a few years until the whole area knitted together.

Some years I just let the wild digitalis (foxgloves) grow away.  And most years I leave the anthriscus sylvestris (cow parsley) to cover the entire space.

It’s pretty and useful for filling enormous vases for the house.

And then by about July it is such a jungle that I just get in there with a strimmer and eventually a mower and scythe the place back into control.

In 2014 I finally got round to getting a lot of the submerged rocks removed from the old border between the lawn and the duck pond.

That makes mowing easier.  And in future my eyes are drawn to that neat little terrace above the duck pond.  It is brambly, and utterly shaded as there is a 100 foot chestnut tree towering above it.

But in spring I can get a harvest of wild garlic from the land.  And I may work it over a bit (oh for a rotovator I can lift up onto the terrace) and come up with some new scheme.

Right now I’m just happy to keep on planting narcissus bulbs and bulk up the colour. Something we are yearning for in spring.