After the Hamiltons leave us it is time to get back to full-blown gardening. We have finally decided to tackle areas of the flowerbeds where they have been pretty much undisturbed for some years. This involves digging out the soil, wheelbarrowing it over to a ‘processing’ corner where Nick laboriously picks out all the weeds, grass and roots and then sieves the earth into tubs. It will be mixed with our own compost to make serviceable soil to dig back in, and to use for potting up the seedlings and offsets that are being discovered.
After trying for about five years to sow seed from Mme Heurtevant’s Sweet Cicely, when I get in round the base of the parent plant I find about eight plants quietly getting on with life. That particular flowerbed contains Yellow Flag, a large Euphorbia, a Daphne odora, an evergreen Honeysuckle, a large Alstroemeria, an Agapanthus, a Forsythia, and Centaurea dealbata. This latter flower is a child of the plant which Andy planted at 88 Pep as part of his esteemed collection of species when he planted up the newly created garden he masterminded. Lost within all this foliage is a ‘blue’ rose which, after Nick and I have drastically thinned out that particular border, may be able to thrive.
When I tackle the complementary bed on the other side of the path that leads from the terrace out onto the lawn I find a myriad tiny seedlings of Sarcococca hookeriana as well as about a dozen decent small plants. This all has to be rooted out and then I am able to replant uprooted Schizostylis coccinea – the Kaffir Lily under the shrub. Again much foliage is cut back.
I notice that in amongst the poppies and other wild flowers which are allowed to bloom around the Mimosa there are splashes of blue, and it means that at least some of the wild flower seed I cast in that area has germinated. I hope the Cornflowers will now continue to flower there as long as we leave the wild unmown patch. As the weather is dry I put out my willow goose and cockerel to add a bit of interest.
The weather is very hot and although Nick and I are on a mission to ‘get back control’, get some exercise and lose weight (too much wonderful food in South Africa) I find I have to work for perhaps an hour then retreat indoors and find another task. No shortage of those! There are jobs to do all over the garden so it is a matter of chasing the shade as the sun traverses from east to west over our south-facing house.
After the weekend during which the Tuttles arrive, we then have them over for supper on Monday evening. We socialise again on Wednesday when Dede and Francoise invite us for supper after the hottest day of the year so far, and according to BBC news, record highest temperatures in parts of the UK. The following morning I cycle down to the slipway by the oyster park. It is high tide and I meet up with the Burnoufs and their other guests of the previous evening for a swim. The key factor is that is high tide, so the sands and the oyster tables are nowhere to be seen. There are just some steps to descend and then Plouf, into the sea. With the seawall and the side of the slipway it feels a bit like a seawater swimming pool. The following morning I repeat the exercise with Anne, having sold the idea to her the previous evening when the Poulets came over for curry. They brought Noe with them and I was all set to give him his spaghetti Bolognese when his mother arrived to take him home to bed. Another time I will make sure his meal is ready when he arrives in order to avoid the sight of his sad little face as he wished me goodnight 😦
Late on Friday night Nick and I fetched up in Poole and we are almost the last to check through customs. We have Cybs and Eamonn staying with us for the next two nights as they have a family event. We have come back for Mark the Greyhound’s 50th. I spend a good hour watering into the early hours of Saturday. During the day we tackle garden no. 2 and Nick makes good headway with the pergola he is erecting. Once plants have been rescued from the brink I can put it off no longer. Strawberries must be harvested before too many more rot away. I find fruit-picking such a chore, so boring. Nick and I spend an hour picking about 12lb of fruit. Then it has to be picked over, quality control…… I chuck out squishy fruit onto the lawn for the blackbirds to pick over…………..Cue jam, ice cream, freezing, feed supper guests on Wednesday. As we eat home-grown globe artichokes, asparagus spears, new potatoes, rhubarb – some of this produce brought across from France – it does give us pleasure to feel that we provide a regular if small input into our diet. The jury is out on the gooseberries we picked just before leaving. Let’s hope these gooseberries don’t make fools out of us!