Happy and Glorious

I couldn’t have asked for a better day.   Up to a find there had been a pretty good snowfall overnight.

I love that feeling when you wake up and know something is different but you can’t quite work out what it is.   And only when you look out the window does it all make sense.

Snow. I don’t think there was much, just a few centimetres. Enough to bathe things in white and make me race out in my pjs (and thick puffa jacket) to take snaps.

But sun was forecast so I assumed it would melt enough for me to get on with chipping. And that’s what happened.

I did my usaul firewood warm up exercises and then headed for the hills.

Most of the sticks I need to turn into a good thick mulch live on or around the chestnut trees in the forest.   So a good brisk uphill walk, with heavy duty Welstead loppers and I found my quarry.

This is forest management on a very small scale. The huge trees throw up their suckers from the base of the tree. Ramrod straight and perfect for fence posts when they put on a few year’s girth.   But I cut the suckers when they are the thickness of about two centimeters, so two year olds.   I leave the tiddlers for next year.

And of course if I forget to prune them, I miss out and the branches put on so much girth they can only be cut with a chain saw.   But each tree throws up around 30 suckers.

But it’s easy to forget one or two as there are hundreds and hundreds of trees up there.

But my garden mulch can’t rely on fresh chestnut sticks alone.   I like to mix up with dead wood too. And that means oak.

So after about five laps up and down the hill with armfuls of sticks (puffing and blowing, I’m ashamed to say), I headed further east into the forest to cut up the branches from the oak trees felled in the summer.

Marvellous work.   And the chipper worked perfectly. Not bad considering it was only about 2C at lunchtime.

I finished mulching the long path down on one side of the potager.   This was where I grew the sunflower hedge in summer. And although it worked quite well, it needs help. It’s a hungry bit of soil.   This mulch will trap the moisture and make things a lot less stressful on the flower I intend to grow here.

And by mulching now, the breaking down process will begin over the dormant season; and by spring it will be ready to work with.

But where to put the rest of the day’s mulch? I ought to be putting it on the shade garden gaps where I assiduously weeded last month.

But the perfect blank canvas of the soft fruit orchard was calling me. And calling my mulch.

I have days and days and days and days of work to get enough mulch to cover this huge area. But it is crying out for it.   Once it’s down it’s perfect for weed control, soil conditioning, and an aesthetic appeal.   And best of all, I don’t plan to plant things in between the soft fruit next year.

I tried planting bulbs this year and they didn’t thrive.   The crocosmias needed more moisture than this part of the garden could supply.   So I will keep it clear and rethink. What I should do is underplant this entire area with narcissus or tulips so I get the delight of bulbs which do all their work underground and delight in spring.   Must put that on my list.

And that was my day.   No humans to speak to, but luckily Artur was in an ‘interesting’ mood. I noticed that he liked to perch himself in the sun but keeping an eye on me.   Apart from that rather delicate moment when he tried to attack me on the pergola. Now this is not a pretty sight, but he is very cross with me about the cat flap.

He is being a big baby about it; he can get out of the flap when I’m not looking, but when I stand there waiting for him to jump through he howls and growls and generally throws a complete tizzy.

But as my lovely friend Robyn reminded me: would you like to climb through a human flap? Ouch.

I haven’t shown you a more fetching picture of him this week, so here goes.

This is the one where he is trying to convince me that a winsome cat is a happy cat and he needs love and affection and someone to open doors for him. Hah!