Garden visiting – wordy Wednesday


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.


10 Comments Add yours

  1. Harriet says:

    Wordy Wednesday up and running over at Cattapilla Dreaming. Bring on those words!!
    PS Look after that hand – one-handed gardening not that easy!

    1. kate says:

      Well, it’s a small trend, but maybe we’re starting something!

  2. Anna says:

    Oh orange poppies ~ what would I give for such visitors ~ every year I get a surprise unexpected and unwanted patch of yellow. The garden you visited sounds just perfect.

    1. kate says:

      Aren’t they lovely? I’ve got my eye on their seed pods! It’s a great garden, and I’m hoping some of it will rub off (like orange poppy seeds, ahem)…

  3. Cecil says:

    flinging the slugs over the fence is a great idea! I just can’t bring myself to touch them. They have been destroying my lettuce and making me angry. I was searching online to find a good idea to repel them, and I came across this video:

    It’s hilarious! It made me forget about my slugs for a few minutes 🙂


    1. kate says:

      I’m with you – but if you lift one on a trowel and then use the trowel as a throwing aid you can hurl them quite far!

      Good video… ho ho… (I think my slugs are fatter, mind)

  4. What a fabulous place. My dream garden has a stream that we can put a small water wheel on the generate electricity. In reality, I use watering cans. A lot.

    1. kate says:

      I would really, really like a stream too (well, there is one here, but well covered, running under a corner. I say running, but it’s more trickling and drying up. Can’t really use it)… at least heaving watering cans about keeps us fitter and our arm muscles more toned!!

  5. Clare says:

    Hi Kate … I’ve just come back from a weekend staying with the same friends and they said to drop in on your blog! There were TWO grass snakes in the compost (plus loads of slow (sloe?) worms) but I didn’t get a pic before they all scarpered! Haven’t visited for a couple of years and was amazed and impressed by what they’ve done with the house too!

    1. kate says:

      Hi Clare – and thanks to them for suggesting you call in, as it were…

      I was just told about the double grass snakes – wonder if there’ll be more, it’s an ideal breeding spot… Next time I’m there I must go and have a look!

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