What a lovely time of year this is when the weather is fine! At last, after months of gloom and damp, the past few days have been not just spring like, but summery. It’s forecast to continue for the rest of the week. It can go from freezing cold to blisteringly hot in the blink of an eye here. Yesterday we were in shorts and shirtsleeves – inconceivable last week. This can mean only one thing: time to get the garden back on track.
Our garden, which is quite big but not especially well cultivated, has been sorely neglected since last November. We had set aside all sorts of tasks to carry out on nice days over the winter. The problem was that there weren’t any nice days, which is unusual. So those tasks remained undone.
The dead plum trees in the hedgerow that the wind had brought down are still there. The area from which we removed some tatty hazel trees, and which I had planned to plant up, became home to some Triffid-like weeds over the winter. Thanks to the persistent rain, the lawns were starting to resemble Douanier Rousseau’s paintings where the tiger is only just visible in the foliage.
Of course, the resumption of gardening is not always plain sailing. Why is it that the garden tools you put away for the winter in perfect order in November don’t work in April when you take them out again? Full of optimism one fine afternoon, I climbed onto our tractor mower and turned the key in the ignition. Nothing. Again. Nothing. Flat battery, which took two days to recharge.
Similarly optimistic, the SF got out the strimmer, with a view to taming the savannah-like edges of the garden. All went well for a while, until the cutting string ran out. Whoever designed this system has obviously never had to use it. You have to wind the cord, which is like an unruly snake, around a bobbin-like unit, and then poke the two ends out through minuscule holes while trying to ensure that it doesn’t all unwind in the process. Having achieved this, after several false starts, the strimmer motor decided that it had had enough and conked out altogether.
A trip to the garden supplies store Pole Vert in Villefranche-de-Rouergue, 20 km distant, relieved us of rather a lot of euros to buy a replacement strimmer. When we first moved here, I had no idea of the number of tools we would need to keep a country garden in check. We are now the proud owners of a tractor mower, a motor mower, a strimmer, a débroussailleuse (brush cutter), a chainsaw, another chainsaw on a pole for cutting high branches, two wheelbarrows, a long extendable ladder, two other ladders, countless garden hand tools, and a host of other paraphernalia.
Am I complaining? Pas du tout. It has been wonderful to get out into the garden over the past few days and see it all come back to life. The geraniums are planted, the lawns mown, the stone steps cleared of moss, the weeded areas are ready for planting and the last of the leaves are raked away. The smell of cut grass and rising sap is delightful. The sight of the buds bursting on the trees into a lovely spring green is heartening after the winter grey. Best of all, the blackbird that serenades us from dawn until dusk in our little wood is a sign of spring that we look forward to for the rest of the year. And the cuckoos are back in earnest, having been sparse for the past few years.
So, if I have been a little absent from the blog for a while, I have an excuse. And it takes one’s mind off all the other things going on in the world to experience Nature coming back to life.
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