A touch of frost

This week has been a splendid one for weather. Clear, bright days and chilly nights. How November ought to be. Yesterday even brought some proper frost, which stayed on shaded patches until late in the morning. Autumn colours have been wonderful: a client’s Rowan tree was positively glowing in the sunlight. 

In her garden the main task was leaf-gathering: fortunately the mighty Horse Chestnut which looms over from next door, flaunting its Tree Protection Order, has now lost all its great hand-like leaves. Still they cling to everything, and clearing them from the tops of shrubs took longer than raking the lawn. I also got plenty of Tulips into the ground, and into some planters, to bring colour after the Narcissi and other earlier bulbs have finished next Spring. I’ve put over 200 bulbs into this modest garden, so I hope we’ll be rewarded with a good showing in a few months’ time.

My next job was the continuing clearance of Mrs P’s garden, or at least the untamed part of it. This has been going on in fits and starts – interrupted by the need to attend to other parts of the garden, and the need to fit work into a couple of hours a session – for over a year. Finally I believe that the back of it is being broken: huge bramble roots, thick as a fist, are finally giving themselves up, along with nettles and countless Holly saplings. Part of the area is actually a path, though covered over with many inches of earth, so roots have insinuated themselves down between the paving stones and require some heavy lifting before they can be attacked. 

In addition, there are three or four – it is difficult to tell precisely as yet – substantial Holly bushes, an enormous Forsythia, which need serious containment – and an ancient apple tree. This latter was ‘pruned’  a few years ago by someone my charming client described, in a moment of quite uncharacteristic bluntness, as ‘an arsehole with a chainsaw’ – and it shows.Large chunks of old, thick growth have been crudely sawn off, and their stumps have subsequently died, while spindly ‘water’ shoots have proliferated in all directions. In spite of its treatment, the tree has cropped vigorously this season, and produced far more apples than anyone could ever need or use.

I broached with her the possibility of getting rid of the tree altogether, as it is to my mind beyond redemption. A domestic conference was promised, which will decide its fate.

Once all this clearing is done, I will get on with the task of planting up this part of the garden with low-maintenance, year-round interest – mainly shrubs I propose. 

Finally, on to my third job of the day, and some more Tulip planting, as well as tidying up the debris left by the double glazing fitters’ recent visit. On one hand they have pulled away lots of Ivy from around the house windows, which saves me a job. But on the other hand, they have left lots of it hanging and wafting around off the wall. They have also dealt with a huge climbing rose in much the same fashion: this will need more careful attention, pruning and reattachment to the wall.

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