The sedum spot

Grey and threatening with snow forecast tomorrow. So I am throwing myself into work as fast as I can.

Now that Michel has radically pruned the monster chestnut tree this is nowhere to hide my leaf mould bags that I had stacked under its branches. So I have moved them up to the top potager and hidden them (not very well) behind the compost bins. No photos as they are about as photogenic as the contents of the compost bins. Luckily the water troughs are the same lurid blue as the bags. In a year they will be fine, but for now a bit of an eyesore.

Now that the area beside the property has been exposed it was time to rake away a few feet of drying chestnut leaves and burrs and dig down into the lovely soil underneath. A few decades of falling chestnut leaves has made a fine rich soil. So all I needed to do (oh sciatica where is thy sting?) was dig it out and move the soil about the place.

First off was to cover up the buried electricity pipes up near the peach trees. This is going to be a great improvement in spring when we can mow this part of the orchard rather than rely on the strimmer. And then I realised that this is going to be a slow project if I am going to nurse the recovery process: so I am just going to pile it up beside the trial beds and work on it later.

Being that close to the flowers on this side of the shed, I uncovered the sedums I had sown last spring. Time to do a bit more planting of the future flower garden. The seeds came from the RHS annual seed delivery. With the chaotic system of sowing and planting and abandoning to the elements last year I’m amazed they survived. Naturally they were in the wrong spot – too shaded to flower. But it was time to get them out and into the small top terrace on the sloping bank above the potting shed. I found the label that had been planted with them (along with a few that didn’t survive alas). Sedum stoloniferum. No idea even what colour they will be. But hopefully they won’t clash too much with all the Sedum Autumn Joy I want to plant up there. (Checked on the internet – a dusky pink, hurrah.)

And now I’m in for lunch at the late hour of 2:30pm. Well, I actually snacked on a surprise find on the terrace below the potting shed: escaped land cress. Very tasty and tangy, and it gives me an idea to plant up all the ones in the vegetable garden I no longer need. (Oh, yes and I planted up eleven verbena bonariensis plants that weren’t in the right spot on this terrace. Too tall for the small wall.

Knackered from digging but well worth the halfway finished job. So much for nursing the back. I came up with a cunning plan for getting a lot of soil down the terrace and onto the area behind the swimming pool wall. It is short a few feet of soil. And just twenty feet above and to the left is a hoard. But first I had to clear all the leaves away from the potential soil slide. That took ages. With plenty of trudging to the woodshed to offload yet more sticks for the chipper. Stockpiling nicely.

I decided the leaves and mess could just stack up on the little terrace on our neighbour’s property. This is the no man’s land forty feet of terracing that belongs to the absent Ardeche farmer who cannot build on it, but doesn’t want to sell it to Jean-Daniel who sorely needs more land. So it deteriorates with brambles and this monster chestnut tree that is causing so much work.

One bonus of raking all the leaves onto the terrace was finding a few hellebore gems hidden amongst the brambles. Up they came and I have whipped them into the shade garden. I don’t know how they will transplant as they are already in prehistoric looking flower. So I will have to wait and see. But it’s all a bit of instant gardening.

And naturally instead of getting on with more digging, I decided to do my first bit of drift planting. Here are the lilies that had been sitting in pots in the vegetable garden all year. Out of their confinement and into the ground.

Then after a quick painkiller and a slug of tea it was on with the soil work. Working like a demon I have it halfway to its location. But cannot possibly heave any more soil today. Aching.