Fruit and flowers

img_8995This may not look like much to you, but to me it’s deeply meaningful.

These are three little crocus bulbs, Pickwick I believe, peeking out to greet the sun (on Thursday, that is. Since then, we’ve been in the fog).

I planted several hundred bulbs in December: 150, 300? I’m not quite sure, but it felt like a lot. I love flowers but our land is mainly wooded, with a few flowering shrubs. I was picturing great drifts of daffodils and crocuses, wood anemones and tulips. I hadn’t factored in the reality that 300 bulbs (or whatever) spread over 2.4 acres (even if you group them in strategic locations) will not create great drifts, but tiny pockets.

To make matters worse, I discovered while ordering the spring-flowering bulbs that they like well drained soil and full sun. We can manage some sun, but our soil can best be described as heavy, indeed boggy in places.

I tried to give the bulbs the best possible start by planting them in compost with some grit to help drainage, but I had no idea how many of them would make it. After all, there isn’t just the soil to contend with, but the possibility of being munched by a small animal. In our last house, Serious planted lots of daffodil bulbs and they were all carefully dug up and eaten. We think it was the very large brown rat that lived in our garden.

So seeing these little signs of life is very exciting for me! It’s a small step towards how we would like the garden to look, in the long run.

On New Year’s Day we took another step towards that vision, when we persuaded our house guests to head into the garden with secateurs, saws, spades and shovels, and start cutting back some willow branches and digging very big holes in the area we have earmarked for a mini-orchard of 6 or 7 apple trees. It was incredibly kind of them to help! (Note: don’t accept an invitation to New Year’s Eve celebrations at our house!) Progress won’t be immediate as Beardy has been at work since then, and in any case will need help with the giant holes, but it’s great to make a start.

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Another step in the right direction was the arrival today of 4 tonnes of horse manure. Not everyone would welcome a steaming heap of muck being tipped onto their lawn, but Beardy was delighted. I had actually considered giving him the manure as a Christmas present, and I genuinely think he would have been quite touched by this! 4 tonnes of horse manure takes up very much less space than one might expect, but it’s better than nothing. I’m sure we will become regular clients of the very nice man, a joiner with a strong Lancashire accent, who brought us the manure in a hydraulic tipper trailer and only charged us for the delivery.

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Our ambitions for our land this year are simple: plant fruit trees, build a chicken coop and get chickens (in autumn). Many other projects will simply have to wait: my herb garden and cut flower garden, the polytunnel and mounds for growing vegetables, among many other things. We may not even achieve these modest ambitions, because fencing off the mini-orchard (to prevent the deer eating the young trees) will be time-consuming and we haven’t managed to order the fruit trees yet, but it’s so exciting even making a start.

 

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