Reasons to be cheerful

The last post of the year. I love how dramatic we think this passing of the calendar is to our lives. But in fact if you are a gardener, nothing much changes from the Monday to the Tuesday.

But I think I will summarize this year on this mountain top.  Pretty rubbish on so many levels.  The long drought, the heat wave, losing so many of my plants. The endless destruction wreaked by the wild boar and the badgers. And even the deer treating my vegetable garden as a supermarket.

I have no idea how many trees or shrubs have expired. I’ll have to wait until spring to see if they return. The hedge has a lot of gaps. And I can’t even blame the mole rats munching the roots of the hedge plants. They were too busy eating my rose roots and the parsnips in the potager.

The poor animals are so hungry from the hard summer and the lack of rain this autumn they are moving out of the forest all around us and seeking food in this alien environment of a chestnut farm.

So as a wildlife sanctuary I am ace. But it has felt a bit like fending off the hordes all year.

But I have actually created more this year than in the past seven, so that feels great.  Being a one person gardener, it does feel like a relentless task just keeping up with the maintenance.  But head out the front door and turn right and I can gaze on a whole new adventure in drought tolerant planting and growing and landscaping on very steep slopes.

The entire east garden – about 100 metres of farmland has been transformed.  Half an acre in size? I have planted a whole new garden. Learned how to use a mattock as a garden tool. And put in new plants whose names I never knew until this year. I’m excited to see how they fare.

And no matter what the weather throws at me. And this past week it has been snow and black ice, I find I am relentlessly cheerful.

Just look at today.  I was up very early as I had no alarm clock (0610 seems to be my wake up time). I realized I had lost my phone somewhere outside in the garden when I returned in the dark last night. I waited (with Artur on my lap) for dawn so I could squelch outside and do the search.

Yep it was raining.  Good for the garden but not for the phone.

But after a bit of a plod I found it – lying face down on the gravel near the potting shed.


It was wet. I brought it in. Discovered the letter p was not functioning on the keyboard (all the right hand side letters and numbers were a bit feeble). But a strong cup of coffee, more cat chat, and after half an hour it bounced back to life.

Hurrah. I still have a camera.

And the day was just uphill from there. I finished the finicky job of the pebble work beside the decking and the pool. Goodness only knows how silly it is to insist on river stones so close to a sixty foot high birch tree which sheds its leaves merrily every year.

But it needed doing and I have had two days in almost decent weather to get it done.

Pea-soup fog, but really mild today.

And many of us love the satisfaction of a nicely weeded edge. I might even get round to spiking the lawn this winter, and putting up a proper hare proof fence for the top vegetable garden. And protecting my Swiss chard from the deer.

This list is long but I merrily tick things off as I go.

And if you need to have reasons to be cheerful I leave you with this:  I noticed just in time that the seat of my trousers were filthy and whipped out my close-to-hand sheet of cardboard before I sat down on the chair in front of the fire at lunch.

Saved myself at least twenty minutes in indoor upholstery cleaning when I could be more usually employed picking leaves out of river stones beside the pool.

Happy New Year.