Winter tree planting part three

There is the power of positive thinking.

And there is being forced to come indoors to defrost one’s fingers and toes at 1030am and have a cup of tea.

It’s freezing.

Non-stop snow flurries, biting wind and plummeting temperatures. I even had to find the hood on my puffer which hasn’t been called into service these past two winters.

Gorgeous of course. I do love winter but I have a list of things I really, really need to get done.

Behold the potting shed.

And that’s inside a building.

Even the Creature’s water bowl inside her protective shell froze. (That is the technical term for an esky on its side into which she has a cashmere lined crate.)

She loves it. And I must say it helps having tamed a wild cat who has low expectations. She would probably be living in an upended tree root if she hadn’t been inculcated into the world of cashmere and indoor structures.

Sadly, I have a deadline.

The bare root trees had to get into the ground this week. So with a light snow flurry and lots and lots of buckets of lukewarm water at my side in went the trees.

Ash, pear (conference and beurre hardy), shrubs galore. Hydrangeas, cotinus.

My fingers were too frozen to do much label writing. But luckily the trusty pépinière are good labellers. So I left them in situ.

You can’t of course see much as every tree is thickly mulched with wood chippings, a carpet of oak leaves, wood shavings. And then broom branches.

And staked to stop them rocking in the wind with this superstructure of broom branches to protect them from the cold.

But it’s done.

And for good measure I added in a new hedge of rosemary to hopefully romp away at the top of the guest house garden.

I used to have a fence up here and never needed anything more distracting. But the fence is now down and it looks odd to have some upright rosemaries (Miss Jessop’s Upright I think from cuttings) and then a gap.

The huge oak tree usually hides most things in summer. But it looks ridiculous in winter. I transplanted some Rosemary Sappho which had taken root from the mother plant in the Dry Garden. There are five of those to the right of the tree. And now I have the rather more spiffy looking specimens to the left.

So these little beauties went into the shopping trolley when I was diverted after the plant nursery to a more commercial shop.

Gamm Vert for those who frequent.

Our local one is now classified as Utterly Hopeless. But the monster one down in Aubenas was well worth the two hour drive.

I had to detour because of black ice over the Col de l’Escrinet and then on the long way round another detour around Le Teil as they still have earthquake damage.

A real sting in the tail (sorry!) to have to drive even further south down beside the Rhone river before heading inland.

And of course there was a sale table. And this eucalyptus polyanthemos was looking so forlorn (and five euros) that it had to come home. Black ice and cold weather and all.

It has been repotted and is hiding in the freezing potting shed. But at least it’s not dying from being potbound, unwatered and in too small a pot. And it is wearing a bubble wrap fleece.

With a car full of bare root trees (swaddled) and shrubs and sacks of compost I attempted to return home. And found myself delighting in the road block of a really enthusiastic demo.

The good people of Aubenas were out in force to protest the pension reforms. And I have never seen so many gendarmes.

They blocked all but one road out of the town and I had a marvellous detour around the back streets and gullies and single track roads merrily following all the other cars who looked less lost than me.

That’s my signature method of following detours when there are no signs. Follow boy racers.

And it worked.

I have just a few sambuscus nigra to plant when it warms up to 0C and it will be job done.

All I need to do then is find the swimming costume, the sun cream and pack for Australia.

For a month.

Egad what was I thinking? I haven’t even finished cutting back the ornamental grasses.

ps. Have an ogle at this picture my friend Celia took. It’s a potager on … wait for it… St Helena. She was visiting Napoleon’s exile and snapped the gorgeous shot.

Look at that soil! Look at that lush vegetation. Look how absurdly neat and orderly it is….