Last week my laptop decided it was not going to start up from hibernation mode. Luckily it was still under extended warranty so Paul arranged for it to be sent back. I was out in the garden completing the bulb planting when the DHL van pulled up. I thought it was very good service as it was only a couple of hours since Paul had phoned, only to find out the driver was actually looking for our neighbour's house up the hill. He reappeared at about the same time the following day to collect the laptop...and I got it back this afternoon.
I completed the bulb planting in the long bank at about 6 p.m. on Thursday. It should look glorious if they all survive and thrive. I also pruned the buddleias, but not to the extent that Colin would have liked.
I started on the high bank on Friday - buddleia pruning again, along with nettle and bramble clearing. In the afternoon I went over to Anne's to pick some more elderberries. I spent the evening removing the berries from their stalks.
On Saturday morning Jean phoned to ask if I wanted to go over to pick bullaces (small plums). After getting directions I donned a thick jumper, packed my wellies and barber into Paul's car, and set off. I missed the entrance to the farm but quickly realised I had gone too far and found it no problem on the second attempt.
Jean and I set off with her two dogs to the field with the bullaces. Jean was not amused to find that someone had already picked a lot of them. This was part of her farm land and not exactly on the beaten track, and a little detective work showed horse hoof prints... However, we were more intrepid than the thieves and climbed over the fence to get to the ones at the back, and finished up with a couple of pounds. We wandered back to the farm and then headed off in the jeep to another field to pick sloes. We actually had less luck with these as the trees were fairly sparse. We were just giving up when Jean spotted a well-loaded tree and I braved the gorse bushes to get to it, adding significantly to take our total to three quarters of a pound. Should be enough to make some sloe gin.
On the way back to the farm we passed an apple tree that Jean thought was not too good, but we decided to pick a couple to try them. They were lovely - juicy and slightly tart. Jean backed the jeep up to the tree and we stood on the back to pick a couple of bucketfuls.
After a coffee I set off back home loaded down with the spoils of the morning.
The weather had improved and in the afternoon I got back out into the garden. Next on the to-do list was to tidy up the pampas grass as I could now actually get to it. I don't think the dead leaves/fronds??? or old canes have ever been removed. Once this had been done I could get around the back to pull out the brambles and dig out the roots.
We had been kindly invited to a cheese and wine evening by Chris and Maggie at Preston - friends of friends who knew we were fairly new to the area. We had a very pleasant evening, and actually did know some other people there from the Berwickshire bridge tournament earlier in the year.
Sunday was another high-bank gardening day, and I scaled new heights right up to the top. I had spotted something blue back there. After filling five sacks with nettles (these must have been about three metres high) and more brambles I eventually discovered a patch of aconites, and a giant hogweed that I very cautiously skirted. That will be a job for chemical warfare in the spring. I was hoping to be able to exit around the side of Margaret's barn at the top of the bank, but discovered the path along the side was also filled with nettles and hogweeds, so there was nothing for it but having to scramble back down, pushing the rubbish sacks, loppers etc down in front of me.
In the evening Paul and I went over to Anne's for drinks and to play pool and table football. I am pleased that my mis-spent youth came flooding back to me and I was undefeated on the pool table.
I resumed on the high bank again today - pruning the honeysuckle after what appears to have been several years of neglect. I filled another five sacks with dead wood, and must have gained about another metre of garden from underneath it. I even found two old birds nests in the middle of it. I still need to get around the sides and back - I have spotted some more giant nettles. Tomorrows weather is supposed to be good again, so I am hoping to complete the weeding and may actually get to fill some of the new gaps with plants...
The trials and tribulations of a life of leisure...
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