By the time you read this you read this I will be tending my English garden. I know I should have told you before I left but I was too ashamed of the fact that I have left Cruella (my wife) in charge of the Spanish garden. I have left her copious written instructions but I know she will just ignore them. When I took her round the other night (she only comes out at night) and explained everything I could tell she was just feigning interest. Each time I explained something to her she just said “yeah, yeah, whatever”, when I remonstrated with her over her lack of interest she just said “blah de blah”.
Anyway, here is what I was up to before I left.
7th September 2021. Things I have been doing lately.
Trimming back Lemon trees. By now most of your lemons should be off the tree and any that are left will not be much good. Now is the time to tidy your trees up before the new crop begins to set. Your starting point should always be to cut out any diseased, crossing or upright growth. Having done this make sure you create a hole in the centre of the canopy to let light get into the centre of the tree. Finish off by lightly trimming around the outside of the tree to bring it back into shape.
I only have one old Lemon tree and over the years I have been shaping it around the dining area of our outside kitchen. To create what I grandly term “a dining arbour”. The photo below shows the tree before the start of the big trim. Click on each photo for a larger view.
The next two photos show the outcome of my labour. Where possible I shred the leaves and branches and add them to the compost bin. But the lemons would make the heap too acid so they are thrown into the wild wood. Click on each photo for a larger view.
Removing fig nets and tying in espalier. By now all your figs should be over and it is time to remove your nets; this assumes that you sensibly netted them. If you didn’t net then you probably have fat grateful birds in your garden!. Don’t try and remove fig nets to save them for next year, it is just not worth the trouble, you will only damage the tree and it is not as if nets are prohibitively expensive.
Using scissors just move around the tree and cut all the net off with as little damage to the tree as possible. Whilst I do not recycle the nets, I always save the CDs that I hang on the trees to scare the birds. I worry that no one uses CDs anymore and that the birds won’t be scared by my hanging a copy of my Spotify subscription. The photos below show my net cutting activity together with my CD retrieval. Click on each photo for a larger view.
In addition to my normal fig tree I also have an espalier tree that I have been growing against the wall of our outside kitchen for some 5/6 years. This is netted in a similar way to the big fig tree. But the difference is that once the net is removed it is time to tie in the branches to ensure that they follow the espalier wires. The photos below show the espalier netted, then de-netted (a term I have just invented) and finally you can see a branch being tied in to maintain the espalier. Click on each photo for a larger view.
The final episode in my de-netting odyssey is to transfer a portion of my removed net to my Persimmon tree. The Persimmons are gradually beginning to ripen. But they do this very slowly which means you can sometimes forget them. However, the birds never forget, they know exactly when the time is right to strike by the colouring of the fruit, so it is best to get your net in place now to save tragedy later. The first photo below shows the first signs of ripening, whilst the second shows my trusty recycled net in place together with a selection of Mantovani’s greatest hits on CD.
Tidying borders. My last act before leaving for our English garden was to clear out the long borders along our drive. Because they are in fierce sun all day I only plant things here that can stand this ferocity. My succesion planting keeps this area in flower from early March till the end of August. The planting normally includes:
- Various bulbs
- Carnation and Dianthus
- Flag Iris
When it comes to clearing out borders I have been taking out individual plants by hand as they are spent. But now it is time to get industrial, just use your hedge trimmers to take off the sides and tops of the Osteospermum. This allows you to get a good look inside to see which plants are too woody, and which it is worth trimming back and letting go through the winter. In a future post I will cover the self sown seedlings that will be coming through soon in this area.
The photos below show my hedge trimmer strategy in action, finishing with my overloaded compost bin. The final photo shows my nice cleared beds and clean drive ready for the winter. Click on each photo for a larger view.
Cutting patterns on the lawn. This time of year I like to let the lawn grow quite long to encourage seed setting and to help the birds and bees. My lawn becomes alive with bees and lots of little birds happily pecking away. I wander among them like a latter day St Francis. However, Cruella calls this the time of the great harvest and sets traps and makes bird and bee gruel for her breakfast.
I always cut a pattern just for fun. The photo below shows this years homage to the Yellow Brick Road.