Short back and sides
I was standing in the courtyard, mug of tea in hand, and trying to work out what was missing. The mulberry has had its haircut which makes it look bald and nobbly and miserable, but I knew that there was more pruning to do at this time of year but couldn’t remember what. The roses are done, the planters are bare (tulips coming up) and just when I thought I would have to go back into the house and look up the archives of this blog the answer was staring me in the face.
The grapevines. Duh. It’s so obvious. They need cutting back before the sap starts to rise and they bleed all over the ground where they are cut back. Out came the ladder and the secateurs and I started in.
I’m hoping that the newly planted Baco vines will take root well this spring and add to the coverage of the courtyard. The vines we have do a good job at covering the terrace, but don’t add much to the culinary munching in September. Too many pips in the red grapes. And they really are rather sickly.
And from my vantage point of the ladder at the top of the terrace, I spotted the next pruning job: the sage in the herb garden. Boy does it need a trim. If I leave it to grow with lusty abondon, the sage will flop and the just about contained area of the herb garden will lose its shape.
But what on earth do you do with a sackload of sage? I have it drying in the potting shed and hope it will give me time to think. I have a huge jar of last year’s prunings still to use. And just don’t cook enough pork to keep up with the use. Dried sage pillows, anyone?
I could make some elixir of sage but that’s only a cup ful of sage leaves for two of eau de vie. I’m looking for something that will take two kilos of the leaves.
Actually even though it requires an annual trim, I have been more than willing to plant more. This time the three plants that Teo and Leslie gave me from their garden: I have put them on the edge of the barn wall up along the walnut path. And interspersed them with acanthus mollis.
If the stachys germinate and grow on, I will add them to the edge of this path as well.
I’m just not sure how much sun this bed will get. It’s funny, but you can never inspect everywhere of this huge garden throughout the year. So it might be a bit mean of me to send these sages to what could be an inhospitable spot.
I shall monitor them and see how they fare.
I don’t think they will suffer from lack of water: this is where the water flows when it rains heavily and things race down in rivulets from the road. I have added more soil and will need to think about a mulch. For now it’s a low priority. And I was even contemplating leaving this entire bed for next year. But I realised that the sages I had heeled in temporarily up on the top terrace bank would just live there if I didn’t do anything this spring.
Naturally this diversion of sages meant that I had strayed from my list. Planting out.
The cerinthe major ‘purpurascens’ have been another autumn sowing that survived the winter. They are apparently spectacular, so I have decided to give them star billing down in the lower vegetable bed. I must find some sort of cloche to protect them from deer. It would be a shame to get them this far and then lose the lot.
And that was my lot for the day. I have flung more mulch over the broad beans which I planted earlier in the week, and with the help of a tall wielder of the loppers, cut down the nasty caterpiller nests in the pine tree at the edge of the east lawn. Lovely.
27th February 2011 @ 4:57 pm
I’m going to write soon I promise…but on another subject…I was wondering, since you have such abundance of certain herbs and such, have you ever thought of producing essential oils, tinctures, body/bath oils, infused cooking oils etc. for gifts or sale at either your local farmer’s market or your wonderful Christmas sale in London? Is that a crazy idea? xoxo Sarah