We’re slowly pulling together our ideas for the land. The formal garden is my pet project and will be based on the writings of Beverley Nichols. The original ‘bright young thing’ in the 1920s, he was a prolific and successful writer on numerous topics. My favourite books of his are the house trilogies about how he reclaimed three separate houses and gardens. I fell in love with ‘Merry Hall’ at a very young age, as my Mum loved his writing, and I love the idea of a 1930s/1940s relaxed country cottage garden, where plants rather than hard structures are the centrepiece. It helps that he adored cats.
A Pagan friend who works as a gardener has walked the land with us this morning, and shared his knowledge with us. A bonus was finding several pots of lovage with their gorgeous bitter-aniseed leaves. He and his colleague will be helping with priority jobs such as removing all the pyracantha and ivy from the house itself. That has to be Number One, and then the beds there will be used for perennial kitchen herbs. The bamboo has to come up as well as it’s getting thuggish and may well be pushing up the paving slabs in what will be the hot tub area. He’s promised us some hazel and other hedgerow whips, and in turn will be taking things we don’t want to keep such as all the phormiums. He rehomed one of the huge aspidistras in the greenhouse, identified some plants and trees for us, and will come back with a work schedule. A really nice time this morning.
Apart from an initial burst of ‘that must be done now,’ the garden and land will be a longterm project. We will learn how to prune properly. He thinks the orchard is wonderful – we have cherry trees in amongst the apples and pears, but it’s too densely planted, so everything’s starved of air and covered with lichen and moss. He did say the best way to clear the agricultural land is to borrow a couple of goats, which was music to my ears – I wanted goats but we couldn’t manage them permanently, so maybe someone local will lend us a some for a couple of weeks to eat all the weeds. Otherwise the veg bed will need two years under membrane to kill off the weeds and sterilise the soil. We’ll still have the polytunnel and greenhouse in the meantime for veg. We’ll be calling on the Pagan community to see if anyone wants to be part of a work party under direction in exchange for hospitality.