That’s it, the whole cycle is about to start again. As I approach winter, every year, I think ‘well, at least I can have a bit of a rest’. I know, I know.
Of course, that thought only persists for about a minute or so, and then I realise that the weeds haven’t stopped growing, the veg patch needs to be limed and composted, the trees need their annual burst of attention, there’s the pruning to organise (down to P – he’s brilliant at it while I am completely rubbish), and there’s that huge list of winter jobs we drew up in September when we had five seconds and thought about all the things we’ve been putting off. So far, out of many specific tasks (‘trim oil-tank skimmia’, ‘get valerian out of pigsty wall’) and numerous non-specific ones (‘leaf removal’, ‘everywhere: remove bracken etc’), we’ve done ten. Only another thirty-six to go. And that’s without getting onto the page about plant movements, or mentioning other distractions like editing jobs, Christmas and the need for jolly festive root canal work.
But we have started, and that’s the important thing. Monday, despite weather which made me issue a public health warning and a very definite liability disclaimer, it was time for the tree tweak. Soon there was a scatter of P and T’s stuff all over the lawn: chainsaws, masks, bolt cutters, an enormous axe, a sledgehammer (?), gloves, several bowsaws, cups of tea: when we do tree work, we do tree work. Checked shirts. Braces (OK, not me). Beards (still not me). Muscles (not me either). Nobody singing the lumberjack song (of course I did).
The big Western Red Cedar at the back of my garden was savagely ‘trimmed’ by ManWeb on the lane side some years ago, and of course it revenged itself by growing wildly in every other direction. There are some tall whippy bits, but we decided to leave them alone for once. Cut them off, and the tree responds by growing sideways even more. We’ve already removed a couple of low branches that were threatening the oil tank – behind the skimmia to the left of the cold frame – and I vetoed a suggestion that it should now be topiarised into an appropriately seasonal giant turkey. (I don’t want to sap anyone’s creative impulses, but it already looks like a immense Christmas pudding.) In the end it could all be done with bowsaws, bolt cutters and not too much climbing – phew – plus they got to play with their chainsaws in the end, dealing with the logs. And the logs are all log shaped, and not carved into robins or bunches of holly. Result.
I am slightly disappointed, though, as the trim means that there will no longer – or not for a bit, say a year or so – be views quite like this one, with the pineapple-scented cedar drooping above my head. As long as the rain isn’t coming in sideways it still functions as a massive umbrella (er, the rain often does come sideways, mind), which I suppose is another thing it resembles. Perhaps I should have called their bluff about the topiary…
We had help, too, and not just from me with lots of cups of tea. We were under permanent scrutiny by the Top Garden Robin, who bustled about very officiously, posing every so often in case we were short on our Christmas cards:
He (or she? Apparently robins can tell – and I should hope so too – but it’s difficult for observers) has been in the house a couple of times, just exploring and snooping about. I have explained to him / her that being such a fat, delectable, confident robin is not a completely brilliant idea unless he / she wants to end up as a Christmas snackette for Next Door’s Cat, but I guess he / she will find that out. Or not. And in the meanwhile there are fights to be had with the Middle Garden Robin by the waterbutt.
My next task? Er, task which was missed off the list? Garlic, possibly, as the shortest day approaches, and I’ve just had my delivery – Germidour and Lautrec Wight this year. Germidour I know will be good, as I’m still eating the June harvest and it’s keeping brilliantly. Not so sure about the Lautrec Wight; I’ve a feeling I’ve tried it before without great success but I can’t find any reference to it in my admittedly patchy notes. Fingers crossed, anyway.
And then the Bonfire Heap of Doom has built up again (inevitably after tree work), so – and this is off the list, too – there’s a need for a major bonfire. Highly seasonal, and let’s hope it brings the sun back.
And, of course:
Happy Christmas, Joyeux Noel, Nadolig Llawen!
Have a wonderful holiday, however you are spending it and whatever it means to you. And if you’re not having a holiday right now like some people I know who have to work over Christmas, then have a good one when you do get a break…