Winter treats

Feast your eyes on the lovely Christmas bounty from the Dho family. They came to stay in our guest house and staggered under the weight of these gifts. Lemons galore, a watermelon, ugli fruit, orange liqueur, olive oil cake, watermelon rind jam, plus beetroot and fresh eggs. Truly generous.

And I’ll do one more shot before I get stuck into the relentless winter brown.

And off we go.

Don’t you think you should just stop here?

This was that brilliant moment when I realized I had got into a bit of a landscaping pickle.

I could tell you in a sentence. But as I have spent a lot of hours outside in rather cold weather I have had time to work this up into a little word picture.

Listen hard and you can hear the whoomp of the rotor blades; there is a helicopter hovering overhead. It positions itself right above me.

SAS style, down comes a soldier dressed in blue overalls and serious work boots.  I watch him slide towards me just as a loud hailer shouts above the din and rattle above.

‘Gardener, Put down your trowel. A structural engineer is being dropped on your project and will winch you to safety. Step away from your work’.

Yep. I leapt onto this steep bank with an awful lot of enthusiasm, gusto and not much talent.

The problem was that the ground was so delightfully soft after the snow and rain I just couldn’t resist. I’m working in the steep garden just beside the guesthouse in case you were wondering.  I had left the top part of the bank in a dormant state after the heroics of the lower part of the bank. And the untimely attack by badgers.

But now it was time to get stuck in.  And channel my inner structural engineer.

I started pulling out weeds and rocks and soil and found myself on a teetering pile of dangerously steep landscaping.

The problem was I couldn’t work out where to put the rocks and soil while I built up the bank. I knew I would need to make terraces out of this impossibly steep pile of soil. So I just made it up as I went along.

And then gave the whole thing the Artur test. He, naturally, was surfing on the back of my legs while I worked. But when he finally got bored with my lack of attention, he decided to wander off. Up the bank. And brought down a few carelly placed stones.

Yep. Engineering assitance needed.

So I did the very sensible thing of just walking away for a day.

Coming back at it again fresh and with a good breakfast inside me, I realized it wasn’t as bad as I thought.  Well, it’s bad. It won’t take a marauding badger or even a mildly curious old cat.

But I have decided that if I leave the path well alone. And the step up to the gate, I might get away with it.

And in this garden that counts as a result.

Next up – mass planting of irises. The old standby favourite.

And of course I always type this: it will look a whole lot better once I’ve given the whole bank a good thick mulch.

And worked out what to plant in that middle and upper quadrant. It feels like a whole bank of iris might be a bit dull. But do I really want more grasses here? It’s so lazy. But it is my signature plant. I will have until spring to decide.