Yes, you’ve guessed it, we are at our English house at the moment and the weather is appalling. It rains every day, there are freezing cold winds and it is dark by 4pm in the afternoon. This wouldn’t be too bad, but my body is programmed to automatically seek wine once it gets dark. If we have many more cloudy dark days I will be an alcoholic.
Our reason for being here, apart from drinking too much wine, was twofold. Firstly to welcome home from Japan the idiot son, where he has been single handedly saving the Japanese economy – at least that’s how he tells it. But also to see the mighty Tottenham Hotspur beat Inter Milan in the Champions league.
Now in between all this excitement I couldn’t wait to get out into the garden. Despite the cold and the wet, gardening must be done. I asked Cruella (my wife) if she wanted to come out to help, but she refused saying she would rather remain hanging upside down from the ceiling as it was warm up there. To be honest she prefers this time of year as it gives her so much more time without daylight.
28th November: Things I have been doing lately
✂️ Tidying up the front garden. If you have followed previous posts about the English house, you will remember that I try to keep things simple here. The front garden is mainly shrubs and trees set amongst pebbles with a low stone walled bed to the front with a smal hedge and other plantings. Meanwhile the backgarden is walled with flagstones and various climbers covering the walls.
Both gardens are small and easily maintained. In effect this is the ideal way to garden when you split your time between houses. The Spanish house has the large garden and takes a lot of love and maintenance. Whilst the English garden requires only a big winter cut back and a mid summer tidy up.
Anyway, I digress. From the photos below you can see that the front garden was becoming a bit overgrown and needed a cutback and tidy up.
From the photos above you can see there are a number of things that need tidying.
– The hedge in the raised walled bed needs trimming back. When doing this you should aim for a square top but make sure you camber the sides out slightly so that the lower edges of the hedge still get sun and there is no die back.
– The Yucca flowering spikes need trimming off. When handling Yucca always wear eye protection and gloves. Push long handled croppers right to the base of the spike and cut it back cleanly. Only leave flower spikes that that still have flowers. As soon as the flowering is over take off the spike.
– The small Yew by the front door (Taxus Media) is beginning to lose shape. It backs on to a wall and not enough sun is getting to the rear and one side. You have to trim these very carefully and make sure you do not cut into the brown, otherwise the plant may not grow back in these areas. As this plant grows it is becoming less shapely, despite my best efforts. It may have to go in the next year or two.
– Trimming back the large trees that are attempting to climb through the lounge window is the big job. This requires me to stand precariously on my small stepladder placed on unstable pebbles and wield an electric hedge trimmer at the full extent of my reach. I do not recommend this to those of you at home. I did promise myself that I would get into the centre of the tree and trim back the branches to make a new lower and more manageable shape. But it was freezing out there so I gave up.
The photos below show the newly cutback and re-shaped front garden. What do you mean “you can’t see any difference”. Cruella said that when she eventually ventured out to pick poisonous mushrooms. If you look carefully at the second photo you can just see her foot sticking out of the ground; the ground was too hard to dig deeper. Three bloody hours that took me – no difference indeed!!