Since Cruella (my wife) has been away at our English house visiting the idiot son, the garden is gradually returning to normal. Small animals and birds have started tentatively appearing again, admittedly they were very fearful at first bearing in mind many of their compatriots have been turned into soup, patés and table lamps by Cruella. But for the moment at least they are back and this means that I sit and have my morning pot of tea like St Francis of Assisi surrounded by small creatures and birds all gratefully twittering, mewing and growling with delight.
However, Cruella’s absence has been noted in our village and I have had to explain to people that she has gone to England to celebrate her birthday with her coven. I explained that it is a special birthday, as it is not every day you are 603. Anyway I have had to issue the photo below of Cruella to show that she is ok. The photo shows her outside coven HQ in her ceremonial evening regalia about to start the evening chant.
Anyway that’s enough about Cruella, let’s get on with the gardening.
27th November 2021. Things I have been doing lately:
Clearing the Wild Wood. Regular readers of this blog will know that there are many different parts to my garden all of which serve different purposes. The Wild Wood is an area that I keep as natural as possible, it mainly consists of pine trees, and Lentisco with all sorts of grasses and wild plants together with some odds and ends that I transplant down there. The Wild Wood also contains our guest accomodation which we had built specially so that guests could enjoy this area. In addition the Wild Wood is the graveyard of past pets and dare I say future ones; (don’t tell Tango the lonely blind Labrador). However, every 10 years or so it is necessary to undertake a general tidy up of the wood to ensure that general shrubs do not get to big and crowd out everything else. I call it managed diversity and Cruella calls it a mess. The photos below show the wood in its overgrown state. Click on each photo for a larger view.
Now of course I am too old to tackle this on my own, so I called for specialist help from a local contractor in my village. Dean, together with his son Lee have been chainsawing, strimming and generally cutting back for days. The photos below show them manfully getting stuck in. I am in charge of overall strategy and tea making. Click on each photo for a larger view.
And finally some photos of the Wild Wood cut back, but still wild and ready for a new lease of life in the Spring. Click on each photo for a larger view.
Cleaning up leaves for leaf mold. Whilst Dean and Lee have been doing the hard work in the Wild Wood, I have been been undertaking the first clean up of leaves ready to make leaf mould. There are only really two types of tree in my garden that offer the potential for leaf mold. These are my Fig trees and the big Mulberry. Leaf mold is in effect a side benefit of the necessary task of cleaning up fallen leaves. If you don’t clear up fallen leaves then they will smother your lawn and create a weed growing medium in your gravelled areas. I like to clear up fallen leaves in two stages. The first removes the bulk of leaves , whilst the second about a month later fully clears the area under the trees. The photos below show the Fig and Mulberry ready for the first clear up. Click on each photo for a larger view.
To make leaf mold you must rake up the leaves and place them into a plastic bag. It is important that you crush the leaves down into the bag, this not only gets you more leaves in each bag, but it helps the composting process. You will need to prick holes into your plastic bag to allow for air circulation and also make sure they are kept slightly moist. On e you have your bags filled, then place them in a shaded area well out of the Sun.
Now normally it can take 2 or more years to fully compost leaves, but, in my case I just add them to the general compost bin after about six months. The leaf clearing photos below include: a pile of leaves under the Mulberry tree, my leg in a plastic bag and plastic bags being pricked by a fork. I am beside myself with joy at my chances of winning the world’s most boring photograph category in the gardening section. Click on each photo for a larger view.
Planting garlic. Now that you have cleared all that space under your trees, then why not put it to good use by underplanting with garlic. Garlic is easy to grow and does not in any way harm the tree. Take a normal shop bought garlic bulb, split it up and select the fattest cloves. Strip off the papery outer coating from each clove and remember that you need to plant them with the flat part of the clove down. Stick your finger into the soil, using the full length of your finger, then pop a clove into each hole you make. Try and plant in some sort of pattern so that you will recognise the first shoots as they emerge and don’t hoe them off. I always plant in a cross pattern around the tree as I am a Christian, but also because it annoys Cruella as most of her friends hate the thought of crosses and garlic.
The first photo below shows my shop bought garlic bulb ready for splitting. The second shows the separation of the fat and thin cloves (one of Jesus’s lesser known miracles). The third photo shows the correct way up to plant the bulbs, and finally a man with his finger stuck in the soil. And to think that Cruella says I am boring, well this will show her. Click on each photo for a larger view.