Wednesday, 12 March 2014

25th February 2014.

I took the opportunity late on Sunday afternoon to wander up on to the top farm with the dogs, it's quite open and the wind can blow the cobwebs away. Mostly soggy stubble and rain battered plough, home to flocks of feeding Plover and a solitary traversing Hare. By the time I got down the Winson Road and back into Barnsley the light was falling  making it easy to chivvy the hens into their house; even so the increasing light levels of early spring has affected laying positively.

Back at work on Monday and there was real power in the sun whilst John and I pruned the vicious 'Wickwar' Rose. This Rose has lethal thorns that punish complacency, hands protected by leather gloves encouraged a laissez fair approach , the result being a cut lip from a spring loaded branch! This Rose used to be a chaotic leviathan  prompting several titanic struggles between gardeners and the fang laden medusa; but now it's reluctantly settled into a yearly spat that suits everyone. Old flowering wood is removed and the arching recent growth that will flower this year is bent down and threaded together, no tie-ing in as the thorns behave like giant Velcro!

John auditioning for 'Axemen'.

Friday 21st February 

Not too bad a week, some showers; but great to see some sunshine that was quite warming out of the wind. Amongst the routine jobs we've also been busy with clearing away twigs and 'blow in' storm debris from the garden as well as cutting up a Cherry that had blown over in  the cover behind the Atlas Cedar.

Despite the weather we've had, when the sun does arrive it seems so spring like. Winter Aconites now line the drive, Crocuses edge borders, bird song forms the backdrop to the garden, the most common song at the moment being the Mistle Thrush. I can hear the drone of our lawn mower as it 'tidilly tops' the lawns and picks up the finer twigs. The lawns too were edged this week, well groomed lawns set the garden off I feel.

Another job done this week was the splitting up of my favourite Snowdrop...Galanthus 'Augustus', putting some stock back into it's original position; but transplanting the rest into a patch of the Wilderness around a Giant Redwood.

Galanthus 'Augustus'
......and now for an apt poem that Mark wrote sometime ago and read to us in the potting shed one lunch break, I thought it very good.

Wind by Mark Burge

I hate the wind, how it torments nature
quaking the tall Poplars,
rippling the soft new ears of barley like a great green lake.
Rustling the May in the hedgerows
breaking the Ashes' limbs,
shaking the Dandelion clocks drifting their paratroopers to an uncertain destiny.

Teasing the fresh born leaves of Beech twigs,
plucking some and dropping them limply.
Uplifting the Rooks in raucous waves,
tossing and tumbling them down to the ground, like flapping black rags.
Stirring the Cow Parsley like foaming crests on fast breaking waves.
Breezing the scent of Hawthorn intensely invading every space that occurs.

Gustily grabbing my cap and bowling it along the road,
just out of reach.
Stamping down great swathes of grass
like some huge riotous steamroller.
In it's lull allowing the screaming hordes of Swifts
to wheel and turn shattering the calm evening.

Wafting the bonfire smoke across still village gardens
carrying the peal of distant church bells down to the quiet water meadow
where munching cows stand knee deep in a liquid mirror.
Caressing the grey and golden clouds in rosy layers
against the pale post sunset sky
which is deepening to sub-space black
studded with diamonds and holding a whisker moon.

The overnight mail train rattles through the station,
it's rapid clattering transcending to a rhythmical, pulsating throb
as it climbs the Thameshead gradient to the summit tunnel.
Rising to the storm clouds herald,
as night creatures take cover,
no longer the Hoot Owls call
or the Vixen's murdering screams.

Only the howlings in the branches of the oak woods.
The battering of rain against the window panes.
Testing and tearing-raging and ripping, all things loose or fixed.
Bashing and smashing-buffeting and bending, all things loose or fixed.
Wrecking and wrenching-cracking and crunching all things!

Raping mother nature leaving her shattered and broken.
Cruel, heartless wind why your antonym?
Your congeniality belies your odious temper.
Blow yourself away and trouble us little in future.
We need you; but I hate you!

Friday 14th February 2014.

Another wet and windy week; although we have been fortunate and not suffered any flooding. The Winterwell is gushing, turning the valley into a river, creating a lake where it hits the Welsh Way. In rare calm sunshine this transient lake  reflects the steep grassy valley sides, quite a sight. In the garden we carry on, battling with mud to get routine jobs done as well as the garden projects we set ourselves. We completed one project this week which gave us an immense amount of satisfaction and pride as we were slightly out of our comfort zone, difficult weather conditions too!

The Winter Walk path has over the years gradually deteriorated, the red bricks becoming loose and 'spreading' ever wider so during the last two weeks the bricks were lifted and washed, soil dug out and suitable compacted sub base laid down. We had sketched the pattern that the bricks were originally arranged in so with the help of a shallow layer of old sand from the Spa's hydrotherapy pool filters we re laid the bricks. A discreet shoulder of mortar to stop the path spreading and a brush over of silver sand to fill the gaps and the job was done. Very pleasing for the team to 'invest' in the garden on a project like this; especially when a specialist could easily have been called in to do it. I feel in this way we keep the artisan feel to the garden's fabric which in turn compliments the borders; it would be far too easy to apply perfection to create a centre of excellence, where's the art in that?

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