The last winter strim on the lower terraces

1artur awakeDare I admit it? I am in love with our lower terraces at long last.

I rarely look upon this huge part of the garden without a sigh of exasperation at the work involved in keeping them looking this great.

But this winter I have really taken the time to explore them properly.  So beware, you might get a few posts about this un-garden part of the garden this week.

I never realised, for example, just how many oak trees we have growing in small copses on the far east of the farm; and how huge they are on the very low terraces. I rarely look up.

After yesterday’s inactivity I felt a strong desire to do lung busting work outdoors today.1bracken field

So choosing to cut down the very last of the weeds below the former vineyard was a brilliant idea.  And even Artur came out to inspect all my tools. I had to carry down my large loppers, the strimmer, helmet, gloves, secateurs and kneelers.  And my best work boots.

A few laps up and down to the work site warmed me up nicely. I had hoped Artur would come all the way down to watch me work, but he ambled back to the potting shed and was fast asleep on his cashmere nest by mid morning when I re emerged to find water and a second breakfast.

1bracken detailSo, to the project.  A bracken forest.

Now that the former vineyard is sorted, it makes the last two terraces below it a rather ghastly contrast.

I know this area has been cleared of weeds twice in seven years.  But it should be an annual event.  And boy have I paid for the neglect.

I took the loppers as I knew I would have to cut down the monstrous broom plants first. They are fast turning into small trees.

And there are some random cherry and blackthorn seedlings which are turning into trees as well.

But I didn’t factor in the work of cutting back the brambles.  The bracken succumbs easily to the strimmer blade, but the brambles were so thick and extensive. 1helleborre detail

There are metal blades you can fix to your strimmer to cut through such annoyingly thick weeds; but I am too fearful of using the weapon on a steep slope. There are too many ironic opportunities for accidents.

So I fear I spent most of the day fixing more plastic strimmer wire every few minutes when the brambles wore out the line.

You can see in the pictures that I had another plant to deal with: the wild hellebore (helleborus foetidus). I do love its rather prehistoric looking flower spike throwing up a bit of colour in among the expanse of brown.

But it did mean I had to do a bit of deft stimming and cutting to avoid slicing the plants. I did accidently decapitate two, but I have a dozen or so still standing proud from the clearing work.

It took all day.  And I haven’t finished. There is a mad punk mohawk bit of bracken and grass left right on the steepest edge of one of the terraces.  I just ran out of daylight to finish.

So tomorrow, weather permitting, I will finish the job.  We had 55mm (over two inches) of rain yesterday.