Toil and soil too

Lawn mid octSorry about that. I had a rogue photo that kept drifting below the end of the text and I couldn’t find a way of fixing the technology.

Where was I? Lawn maintenance. Who would have thought it? There are some things I never imagined I would be tackling in middle age. But attending lawns has become one of them. From a distance the lawn looks to have survived the summer, but on close inspection it has bare patches and threatening weeds.

I had done my first rake a few days ago, but realise that I need to give it a few hours of vim and vigour to get it sorted. And I’ve run out of time.   This sloping bank also needs some work.mown lawn terrace

I need to get all those rocks and stones down. You never see them in the summer for the weeds. Sorry, native grasses.   And something else needs doing.   I had pictured a wall. A lovely stone wall mirroring the one beside the swimming pool. And all that lovely soil up near the spring. That would go perfectly behind a retaining wall and solve the problem of the crumbly rock surface.

But that is fantasy. In the realm of lottery wins and unlimited funds. I should instead concentrate on tidying what we have, picking up all those endless apples that drop all over the slope and lawn. Not eating apples, good enough only for the horses next door. But I never get to them until they are either dessicated or oozing with drunken wasps and slime.

Mairie horsesAnd speaking of the horses next door. Look who I saw when I went to the Mayor’s office this morning. Le Tout St Michel seemed to be there. And Jean Daniel trotted up too. He was taking his grandchildren on a long three hour ride around the mountains. Oh how I yearned to be with them. It was such a perfectly sunny cool day. I couldn’t imagine anything better.

But I did my best and doing ‘good’ and picked up the fallen chestnuts from under the shade garden plants instead.

This is a chore that is definitely on the toil side of chores. You climb into your kneeler pads, don your rubber gloves, grab a large bag and get to picking up the burrs.

Picking chestnutsThis will only be half the crop to fall. I need a bit of a breeze to get the rest of the chestnuts down. Or time. They are quite amazing plants. You couldn’t imagine the number of little seedlings that I pull up from under the mother tree each year.   And I am ashamed to say that I haven’t even bothered to harvest any and cook them and freeze them and wow myself with a chestnut stuffing at Christmas. One can have a surfeit of chestnuts.

I didn’t buy a single chestnut or chestnut product at the Chalencon chestnut festival on Sunday. But I counted the visit a victory as I managed to make contact with the water diviner and the pool man. And wave hello to our local electrician.   Country life.

Alices path mid octI also had a tidy of Alice’s path just below the shade gardens and the potting shed. The grass seeds have germinated in all this rain we have had. And the path looks quite fetching. Yes, I know it’s patchy as well. But give it time.

What else have I done in the past two days of glorious garden work? I took dozens and dozens of verbena bonariensis cuttings. I am going to need scads of this plant in many areas of the gardens next year. The hedge of verbena at the edge of the potager needs bulking out. It was a bit too dry to get many little self-sown babies up this autumn. But once I actually get round to weeding the herb garden I may find a patch of them there.   I am pleased to have so many euphorbia seedlings up.   Lots for Andrew as a gift tomorrow. And lots for me to transplant elsewhere around the garden.Verbena cuttings

My plant palette has shrunk from my mad fantasy stage of earlier this year. No more trying to fit lush moisture hungry plants into a very dry garden. It will be verbena, gaura, grasses and euphorbia from now on.

Don’t you love these bold statements! As if I’m going to follow this advice.   Sensible jobs complete today (you can see I’m keen for my whisky and bed) were to compost the straw around the baby olive trees.   And to tidy up the compost bin.Straw in the olives

Oh yes, a picture of my bins. But this time it is surprisingly neat. I have watered the pile, tucked it up with plastic and held it down with a pallet.   And just look at those marvellous euphorbia bushes behind. Drought tolerant beauties.Tidied compost

The green bag contains my body weight of bark ready for the future paths in the potager. Fingers crossed I will be able to do that chore next visit.