I can’t tell you how eagerly I have awaited the 8am arrival of Nicolas Dessaulx. He has a much more powerful strimming machine than I possess. Not to mention a better physical shape. His back doesn’t scream with protest when he powers up the machine.
It was one of those where do you start jobs. We decided, after a good quick lap, to start at the far western end of the property – behind the hedge, on the top potager wall, in the potager, up behind.
Along the edge of the top terrace where the bracken was starting to grow. The paths, the duck pond, the terrace below the pool. The orchard. The edge of the soft fruit orchard. The list was endless.
He kicked the machine into life and didn’t stop for nine long hours.
Heroic work indeed. I was keeping my head down in the potager, weeding.
I did keep having mini breaks to go and take photos of his fine work. It’s sad really. But a nicely strimmed area is a delight. Especially in areas where the self sown seedlings and brambles can take over in a season.
What is great is Nicolas is first and foremost a gardener. So instead of a scorched earth policy of cutting everything to the ground, he keeps annual grasses that takes his fancy. And he even recognizes my favourite eragrostis curvula grasses. A few specimens have self seeded on the lower terraces. And he cleverly mowed around them.
I can never manage that. I often spy a great plant as I’m working – a fetching hellebore for example – then work my machine carefully around it. Only to sweep back the other way on the next pass and scythe it down.
Naturally I have taken way too many photos today.
So bear with me as you get a proper tour of a rather parched farm in this hot summer.
The top potager now looks a picture. And I asked Nicolas to cut down the long grass that separates our potager from that of our neighbour.
We operate an open potager policy as asparagus is our common currency. And I want to be able to keep an eye on the newly planted crop along the terrace.
From there he worked his way along the edge of the top terrace. I’m not fanatic about cutting down every plant. Just the brambles and the verbascums. So that meant he ignored all the lovely flowers growing on the bank.
And he didn’t step on a snake. I warned him about my last outing along this edge.
From there it was down the paths and into the duck pond area. It looks quite park like now. Lots of interesting trees in among the green.
I look at it every year and think ‘I must do something about that’. But it is heavily shaded, and underneath an enormous chestnut tree. So each autumn the entire bed is carpeted in nuts and chestnut burrs. Not the most fun place to weed or work on one’s hands and knees.
The orchard had a more radical haircut as I could barely see some of the smaller fruit trees from the mass of annual grasses swamping the entire bank.
But Nicolas made a decision about the look of the bank that faces the road down to the letter box. He went slightly punk. Cutting out all the brambles but leaving a rather playful tuft of annual grass half way down the bank.
I blame the heat. But the man was wielding a heavy screaming machine. Who was I to tell him it might be better cut to the grass right back?
And that is more than enough for today. Tomorrow you get the thrill of the lower terrace work. Well, it was thrilling for me.