It's May here, which signals the end of autumn. Wisps of chimney smoke curl from rooftops regularly and there is a sweet woody smell in the air. Days have changed dramatically from bright and warm-enough-for-no-jacket to overcast with icy, noisy winds. Whenever the wind howls, I always think of a story from my childhood where the wind and sun wager who will be able to convince an unsuspecting man to take off his jacket in the shortest possible time. The sun always wins, which demonstrates that most things in life are achieved peacefully, quietly and with wisdom and forethought.
On taking the puppies out for their morning ablutions (usually our Sarah's job), I saw that there was frost on the ground, which was more noticeable on the vegetable beds, as they truly are 'beds' with their ample blanket of leaves. The girls and I had weeded, added generous amounts of chicken and pig manure and carted barrows of fallen leaves to cover them for a snug winter's rest.
"Which bed is that, ma?", Emma had asked
"We've got chicken, chicken, pig, pig ..."
"Hmmm.... I thought those two looked a lot darker..."
In truth, we haven't taken care of our food garden this summer past. Work at the Shop has taken everybody's spare time. It never ceases to amaze me how it still copes and how seemingly fast new life appears.
In the top orchard, we've removed two dead citrus trees, woody, clumpy daisies, hundreds of tall, easy-pull weeds and now the hens are permitted to scratch and discover. In front of the orchard, two rose bushes have been removed and replanted, as they were being compromised by enthusiastic raspberry canes. Shrubs with past flowering spires have been trimmed and carted away, as have squashed, pecked and browned fallen apples, reeking strongly of cider.
Rosebushes from other areas of the garden have been transplanted as well, due to excessive growth of those plants and bushes surrounding them. We fought with a rogue blackberry cane that had taken dominion over the lilac garden and was heading strongly and speedily, up and over the arbour towards the herb garden.
Common mint is the conquerer of the herb garden for the most part. Parsley is ever-faithful, as is coriander. Thyme and oregano are good neighbours, but confess how they miss the seasonal basil (as I do). Sage and rosemary sit together, unassumingly, and we've had to trim the curry bush which had taken over the whole corner, stealing another's prime real estate. I have an on-again-off-again love affair with Fennel, which I think is rather handsome and adds a twist to vegetable drinks, but is rather tenatious at grounding itself deep in the soil and germinating prolifically throughout the back garden.
At the front of the house, thickly packed wood chip has kept many potential invaders at bay. Pigsface is loyal, gaining strength with each stealth-tendril. The banksia rose continues to cover the daphne and the mini Irish strawberry, which continue to survive, and surprisingly, thrive. Azaleas and helibores have a permanent lean, due to constant westerlies.
There is still so much to do, and I constantly wonder how our garden will transform if we don't get the time to care for it as we have in times past, due to new committments with pies and metal creations. But... I have determined to cross that proverbial bridge, if and when I get to it.
For now, though, " ... all is safely gathered in, 'ere the winter storms begin..."