I’ve got bogged down in work, and knackered my hand (how elegantly put) doing the Big Planting – 63 beans, 15 mangetout, 8 squashes, 12 Brompton stock, a tray of calendula… I fancied a rest, and my irises – which I thought would make a good subject for a wordy Wednesday post – are not performing on schedule. So I took myself off to some friends nearby and had a quick tour of their garden instead.
Like me, they’re keen on their edibles; like me, they have a poppy problem. Well, it’s not quite as bad as mine, plus their poppies are orange:
Poppies notwithstanding, they are much more professional and focused about their veg growing than I am. Their garden is mainly devoted to vegetables and fruit; they ran a small box scheme for a while.
They also garden organically and sustainably. Now I may think I garden sustainably, but they really do, and they’re properly organic and don’t give into temptation when it comes to a once-a-year blitz on weedy paths. No ‘organic’ slug pellets for them, either… they pick their slugs up at night and hurl them over the stream which runs down one side of the property (slugs evidently can’t swim), or rely on toads.
The toads have sometimes been spotted in the open or found under the black matting which forms the walkways between the veg beds, so you have to be careful where you tread. The broad beans in the foreground are doing well (but mine are further on and have baby beans forming, hooray).
Unlike me, my friends have extensive compost heaps. As a committed veg gardener, I am very envious, particularly when we carefully lifted the old carpet covering one of them and found this:
Not an uncommon sight in their garden; I get some slow worms, but not as many. Or maybe I just don’t see as many?
Above the vegetable beds is the orchard. The trees are mostly apples and pears, with damsons at the edge, and they have also grown pumpkins and squashes here in the past. As you can see, we share a fondness for meadows / dislike of too much tidiness / similar philosophy / basic laziness when it comes to mowing – delete as appropriate…
The steep slope ensures that this area gets plenty of sun despite the surrounding trees, which are also part of the garden, and another important sustainability factor.
I am also deeply envious of their drip irrigation system, which generally keeps all the veg beds just right without the need for lots of watering cans (sigh), but then I don’t have my own stream. Their house used to be a fulling mill – almost every village had a small fulling mill at one time – and fulling wool does take a lot of water, so the presence of a reliable stream was as vital then as it is now.
Part of the stream had been diverted in the past and is now used to feed the drip system. It goes back into the main stream, but this would be a great place to introduce an element of micro-generation, especially since the stream is usually fast-flowing and reliable: it’s something my friends have been looking into. When you walk up into the woods, you come to the little collection pool, the dam of which is just visible in the middle here:
See that straight line just below the central tree? That’s it. And the outflow is filtered through an old pair of tights: reduce, reuse, recycle, after all. Beautiful setting, too… but I am not at all envious of the fact that slimy black gunk has to be cleared out of the collection pool regularly.
This is almost where their property ends, and is where we set off further into the woods in search of the old holy well which was somewhere around here nearly a century ago. We didn’t find it, though we may have found the site where it once was – but you can’t have everything.
(Particularly when you have a deadline and a hurt hand. Hrumpf.)
Do join in Wordy Wednesdaying if you feel the urge – for those of us who, like me, just can’t seem to shut up and produce truly Wordless posts. If you do, leave a comment so we can visit each other easily.