One of the really satisfying strands to this year has been watching the garden unfold in front of our eyes. 'Doing the rounds' every day or two always throws up something to discover or consider in new light, and brings a very complete sense of connection with the seasons. The autumn finale looks as though it will be a fitting spectacular - the treetops are beginning to glow and leaves flutter from the skies like dainty parachutes.
I can understand better now why gardening has never seemed very intuitive to me - always living a consummately urban life up until our move, I just haven't invested enough time or interest in how nature works. So I've been 'gardening by numbers'....falling back on a list of baffling pruning techniques and planting dates to learn by rote. No wonder it never really stuck. However, with fledgling curiosity, a little more confidence (to make mistakes if nothing else), and a weekly dose of Monty Don, I got it in my head a few months ago that a fruit and veg patch would be an exciting addition to the garden.
Of course, as with everything at Briarcourt, making this a reality has not been completely straightforward. Yes, there were beautifully cultivated areas when the Briarcourt Garden Project was up and running, but in the intervening years, the brambles and grasses had literally taken root. So much so, that we couldn't even get to the old veg patches when we originally came to view the house, and had no idea that there were any pathways through that part of the garden.
As luck would have it, Dunc's dad and step-mum are keen gardeners and came for a holiday in August. Chris was clear that he intended to make this a working holiday and asked that we plan some tasks for him to get stuck into (the genes are strong). So, Operation Carrot was launched.......
With a good dose of teamwork and perseverance, we're now pretty much there with the preparations.....just some swatting up to do!
The second big garden project sign-off we're celebrating is the infamous 'path'......one of the broken up tarmac strips which used to cut across the front lawn like the M62. It's been 4 or 5 months' work, this one - from pick-axing the tarmac; disposing of it via a wheelbarrow, a steep bank, and a succession of skips; digging in several tonnes of top soil; sowing random boxes of grass seed (having given up on trying to work out which out of the dozens of grass seed mixes to buy); constructing a cunning anti-pigeon system (which, it turns out doesn't work for foxes), worrying that the seed wasn't growing; to finally deciding it will probably be OK once the weeds start to grow. Yes, it's VERY green at the moment - a strange criticism of grass, but we have faith that the weeds will work with us to tone it down. Big thanks again to Chris for helping us along the way with this too, and to our fabulous neighbour, Angela, who decided she quite fancied a morning of lugging topsoil with us.
So, here's to another couple of projects off the white board!