“…begin with the near and familiar. It is in learning to love and cherish our own little tree, or field or brook that we become fitted for wider and deeper affections”R. S. Thomas preface to The Batsford Book of Country Verse.
We live on a tiny road, that winds up through the forest from the village below to our hamlet and then on to the next village about 5k up the road. Between our house and the next village the forest varies between conifers, firs and deciduous mixed woodland, mainly beech, oak and ash. We have walked this route for over five years now, in all weathers and all seasons, building up a large library of photographs. During our walks we have seen wild boar, foxes, pine martens, stoats, feral cats, ravens and numerous buzzards and failed to photograph any of them! It’s an ever changing scene through the seasons, with autumn possibly the star as the forest really glows at that time of year.
I’d read about “dead hedges” and thought they would be a good way of putting some sort of – cheap – barrier up on the bank between us and the forest on the east side of the garden. It hasn’t happened yet but wild boar and deer could easily wander in one night and eat through the garden!
It would also be a way of disposing of the large amount of “brash” (foliage, small branches etc) we seem to generate. You just need to select some thickish branches to form the stakes for either side of the hedge, then infill to form the hedge.
Its going OK at the moment and looking just like the photos I saw online, which is always heartening. We will extend as we generate more brash and coppice and “lay” some of the smaller trees on the bank to help form the barrier.
You can more information about dead hedges at the following links.
Yesterday we made our first major efforts in the garden since the autumn. The snow had – mostly – melted and so we took the opportunity to clear and tidy some of the annuals and to weed and mulch all the fruit trees and bushes, though we ran out of mulch before the end of the afternoon. A trip to Gamm Vert is required to stock up.
A welcome sight at this time of the year were the many spring bulbs showing through the soil.
Next job? Winter wash all the fruit trees and bushes.
A favourite walk is to follow the long distance footpath (GRP) “Robe de bure et cotte de mailles”(A homespun dress and a coat of mail) which passes by our house and then climbs out of the Senouire valley from Vals le Chastel and up onto the “prairie” landscape of the high plateau above. We then leave the path and circle down back to the valley floor,taking us past the village of Vourlhat and its old orchard and ancient well. This winter was an ideal time to photograph the orchard as the bare branches gave a stark structural character to the trees especially suited to a black and white treatment.
We have done our winter pruning of the fruit trees and bushes this morning, and given them all a spray with some organic winter wash. We always find pruning a bit stressful as we are not very confident that we are doing it correctly.
You can find good advice on pruning fruit trees at the RHS website and also the Ashridge Nursery website. Here’s a video from Ashridge on pruning a three-year old tree, which we have found very useful.
I’m always pleased with the turn into the new year. The days are lengthening and the weather is usually colder but dryer here. Its time to think with optimism of the gardening season to come.
Sometimes the best walks are the unexpected ones. We had set out to do a favourite walk from Domeyrat village along the railway line and back through the woods along the river. However the local chasse (hunt) were spread along our proposed route and we never feel particularly safe if walking paths in the middle of the chasse.
So we decided on combining a couple of routes we had covered on other longer walks to make a shorter circular route past and around the castle. It was a beautiful afternoon with the trees looking particularly fine in the late afternoon light.