Hands and knees season

village bulbsOr chestnut season if you feel refined. But let’s be frank; this is a region that is obliged to get on its hands and knees and scrabble about for chestnuts under hundreds of trees for days on end.

And in exchange for this wonder nut, we also get chestnut burrs in our fingers. And risk being conked on the head by a green missile that really, really hurts. Hats are compulsory.

I was musing on that as I drove around the country roads and saw so many residents working away at their crops. All the roads are carpeted with fallen nuts and burrs and the verges have plenty of punters picking up the wild chestnuts that grow close to the road.

My destination was the village for some paperwork at the mayor’s office; but I also had some bulbs to plant in one of the village pots.  I’ve added allium purple sensation, and tulip purissima and white triumphator.  And I wrote a small note on a label so no one else will do the same. hornbeams

Village gardening is a rather haphazard affair and I am often remiss. But getting this farm planted up with shrubs, flowers, veg and bulbs tends to absorb all my attention right now.  I keep promising myself that I will have more time one day and make more of an effort over the way.

This planter is right in front of the war memorial, so that ought to be a nice spring surprise.  But if I look around I can see a dozen other things that could do with some attention.  Ours is a scruffy village I fear. And needs an awful lot of work.

shrubsAnd speaking of work, I yearned to do more than just planting bulbs. And house renovations. And List Making.

So I have taken a sneaky afternoon off (I’m supposed to be hauling insulation out of the  crawl space in the roof; it is old and manky and has essence and droppings of rat, so I don’t fancy doing it).

I bought five hornbeam trees yesterday at the nursery; along with a dozen viburnum tinus and prunus lusitanicas to complete my main planting in the shade garden. Well, I still have Andrew’s shrubs to put in – the glamorous ones.  But these are the workhorse plants that are to form the backbone of my modern take on a shrubbery.

Rain is threatening, so I woke up the cat (Artur is exceptionally lazy right now) and forced him outdoors with the promise of large buckets of fresh water to knock over, interesting new plants to chew and consider, and the occasional lap to perch on and muddy. He loved it. hornbeam thicket

For about ten minutes.  Then he oozed back into the warm potting shed and resumed his close study of his eyelids on his fantastic soft netted perch.

The hornbeams now form a rather uniform hedge along a part of the terraces above the barn garden. I have yet to give it a name. I fancy it will become something whizz and imaginative like the Hornbeam Hedge.

It started out as a mixed hedge of yew, hornbeam and rosa rugosa.  But mostly hornbeam remains in a thriving and aren’t we pleased sort of way. So that’s obviously the right plant in this place. It’s a bit sandy, exceptionally well drained, and rather gusty when the wind blows from the south.

net guardAs it is today. I had a playful wrestle getting the shrubs in, but it’s quickly done. How many hundreds of small trees have I put into this farm?

Pleased with myself and with rain roaring in, I have downed tools and scuttled indoors.  I have a few things I can plant up in the potting shed – lettuce and cabbage seedlings. And pot on the chard.  Not the most exciting stuff when I would rather get the twenty or so shrubs into the ground.  But having an outdoor passion is very weather dependent. And right now it’s mooching weather out of the rain.