I’m lying prone on the sofa enjoying a fantastic hot chocolate and a chance to catch up.   It has been a trying time. Sciatica returns.   But as long as I am standing upright, or lying down, it’s manageable.   It’s the bit in between that’s hard.

And that means I have missed the chance to celebrate with John and Jean at their joint birthday party today.   In Burgundy.   The drive would have finished me off.

So I have had to stick to home ground for a bit.   At first I had a go and gingerly pruning things; the lavenders are all done now.   And look shorn but neat.  

I couldn’t resist striking a lot of the cuttings just to see if I can get more of these wonder plants.   I’m trying not to build up too much stock for the potting shed over winter as it just gets too cold in there. But when you are cutting back over 60 lavender plants, you get so many tempting plant material. Too good for the compost heap.

The lavender hidotes in the lilac bed are being well crowded by the sedums and asters which took off this year. I’ll need to replace a few of these plants over winter.   Their flower heads are such a deep vivid blue, it would be a shame not to have the same display next year.   And I will split the asters and move the sedums to give the poor lavenders a bit more room.

Yesterday I did the first strimming: the east garden.

I thought I’d start somewhere easy and see how shootng pains worked with the sideways scything motion of the strimmer.   And it wasn’t too bad.

So one part of the garden looks neat as can be.   I have collected all the strimmings and placed them as a deep mulch around the fig and the walnut on this terrace.   And I have paced out two areas where potential trees could be planted this winter.   Two figs are what I’m thinking; but they will have to come from the Ardeche supplier M. Cochet.   Last winter was so cold that I lost two apple trees, I don’t want to invest and lose again.

This morning I thought it was time to tackle another area where the chestnuts fall.   It’s so much easier to collect nuts when you aren’t scrabbling about among bramble tendrils.  

So the terrace above the duck pond was tidied away. And raked.

I could do something creative with this area; but it is shaded by a huge chestnut.   So it gets a twice yearly strim and can wait until I come up with a good idea.   If I keep on taking soft fruit cuttings, it could be an orchard for jostaberries and blackcurrants.   We shall see.

What I need to do is take more care of the orchard I already have.

Oh the shame of this space.   Two dead apple trees, way too many brambles on the bank, and weeds.

Please remind me that I have to look after this large terrace better next year. It gets mown creatively. And I mulch like mad.   But the trees struggle.

They all need a good professional prune.   But the challenge is I have to prune them so that the branches are not a temptation for the deer which pass this way all year round.

I managed to strim half the terrace. Then the tank was empty. My one promise to myself was to strim only as long as the tank of two stroke lasted.   So I stopped.

Luckily I put the strimmer back in its tool shed, as just as I was thinking I could get out the mower and get the strimmings collected and chopped, it started to rain.

Hard. Thwarted again.   I had just enough time to get a bucket of comos up to my neighbour and then hide in the potting shed with Artur.

The rain always sounds more dramatic on a polycarbonate roof. A bit like being inside a tent and listening to the rain when you are camping.

Artur was all for me to lie still and be a warm lap for him to knead and purr and sleep on.   But it was too uncomfortable. So, to his disgust, I potted on all the winter brassica seedlings.

There are 120 of them and looking very promising.   I can’t decide whether to plant them out or grow them indoors.   I think they can stay where they are for now. As long as the cat doesn’t walk on them. You can see I’ve left gaps so he can stroll through them on the way to the windows.   Good thing it’s a huge space and I can afford to indulge this elderly cat.