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From little acorns.....


Here I am again, tired and aching in every muscle I didn’t know I possessed and about to crawl up to bed…but, I must write and tell you before I do that what I have been up to today, because its exciting …. well it is to me anyway! I started on the garden, tidying it up here and there and looking to see where along ‘The Fence’ I am going to plant out my Natives…lots of choice really, one long line, 150 foot or so to choose from up against 6 foot of barren planking and concrete, its a no-brain-er in respect of the sun/shade aspect as its ALL in shade now…the whole bl**dy garden, that is all except for one tiny little spot at the end of my brick-built sheds (along the opposite boundary on the left); there exists an oasis, a golden pooling of today’s sunshine in that spot just big enough for three garden chairs sat side-by-side starting from under my HUGE Jasmine there three chair widths across and ending by the border where I have the buddlia which I cut down in late September ready for its growth spurt in the spring.a bush with yellow buttercup flowers just opening and the fig tree. There was also a mature but dead unidentified bush in the border in front of the buddlia that had silvery oval-shaped leaves when it was alive and if I remember rightly it had tiny white flowers – it was originally planted by my son some 12 or so years ago and was hit by the bad frosts of last year and subsequently died as did many other peoples’ plants/shrubs/trees, I gathered as I listened to my weekly Saturday morning fix of Gardeners Question Time on BBC Essex. Even the experts on the show had lost some of their mature plantings, we were told….

So, today I made a start out there, trying to dig a border that is almost non-existent and overgrown, neat but overgrown and some of the overgrowth (if that’s a proper term) was the dreaded elder trees that keep trying to spring up everywhere where it is not wanted. three, fifteen foot poles straight as a dye, saplings with a froth of leaves on top and nothing else below it. Not a pretty sight all leggy and slender, straight up and down like a catwalk model. I wish it would grow up the back of the garden where once stood a rather medium-sized old elder tree, nicely wizened its bark deeply ingrained and twisted into that strange pattern elder alone seems to possess, but my goodness old she may have been but did she ever bear me some lovely fruits over the years and beautiful flowers bracs, I think they are called, almost as large as dinner plates! Unfortunately, she overshadowed the neighbour’s garden that runs at right-angles to mine up there and I think he had a hand in her demise, but I cannot really say, it may have just been age. I was sorry to loose her because she is the Mother Tree and I have always been told its unlucky to cut her down. Beloved of the Goddess and to us witches, she seems to exasperate me in my garden and her children spring up in the most inconvenient of places. For example between the houses foundations and fence right across my neighbours’ central heating boiler vent! She has to be chopped back to within an inch of her life there, obviously, as there is a very real danger of carbon monoxide poisoning, and to add insult to injury is also taking the light from their kitchen window by growing over it, but always she manages to come back stronger after hacking down and taller with each growth spurt….but I digress….

Today, I spent four hours of back-breaking work trying to dig along my side of The Fence’s boundary to put in my 40 Natives only to find roots like a network of fine cabling or coir matting underneath. Nice soil though, deep and dark and rich like a Christmas pudding, the well rotted goodness of all the now non-existent trees that were hacked down behind the Fence two months ago left their black gold legacy in my border there – well rotted leaf litter. But also left behind their root systems and it was so very hard to get through it – the system of ground ivy that flourished under the willow left this network behind nearer the surface and below that the tree roots. I forked into it first to break through then used the spade, even resorting to the branch loppers to cut through tree roots left behind like dead-man’s fingers buried in the earth a foot down, and twice as thick!

Eventually, I managed to dig a smallish trench deep enough to take some of my bare root Natives but only managed in all that time to dig a foot and half down by about five foot in length and plant out four in that trench, four in another trench nearer opposite the sheds and one in the border where I cut down the dead bush. I didn’t have the strength to dig more than a foot down beside it and it was impossible for me to dig out the dead bush’s smallish stumps. I still have thirty one Natives to go in! Fortunately, I do have my last three days holiday tomorrow, Tuesday and Wednesday and provided I can still walk by then, well, I just get to do it all over again and although I am only planting hawthorns, blackthorns and Rosa Rugosa’s at the moment, these little twigs are my ‘little acorns’ that I hope will one day flourish and grow into sturdy supports, not only for the benefit of the wildlife, to replace what they have lost by the actions of the new neighbour’s handyman/fencer, but also to become a natural framework for other native ramblers and climbers to weave their way through it all and stitch it together into a fascinating patchwork quilt of colour, scents and textures throughout the seasons. However, at the moment its a race against time, daylight hours being so short and dark nights drawing rapidly in, I really need to get a move on, try to dig this trench along a 100 foot or so of compacted, root riddled earth most of it now going under the canopy of a huge old willow next door where its roots are no doubt stretched across under my ground its much drier there – tomorrow I feel its going to just get tougher.

My ‘little acorns’ are waiting up in the greenhouse tonight, nestled in their plastic compost sacks watered their roots covered in soil from my garden, waiting their turn to be snuggled into the still warmish earth, slumbering away until the time is right to get a move on and grow. Their nine comrades who have already been planted out have bubble-wrap tenderly tucked around their bases and over their heads right down to their feet is a soft white blanket as light as a whisper, a duvet of fleece covering them to protect them from the first night of frost forecast by the weathermen for my neck of the woods…after that, well, I guess I must just keep them warm and comfy until the spring….I have no idea how long I must keep them coddled like this, to give them the best chance of survival through what could be a harsh winter, but hopefully they will come through it and reward me and my garden and the wildlife with years of pleasure and protection. As always your suggestions and tips are greatly appreciated! :^) Love Michelle xx

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Bless your heart Dixie, it does sound like hard work but will all be worth it in the end, I hope the weather is good so you can put more in, elder is a beggar to get rid of, its ok in the right place, a ruddy pest in others......

12 Nov, 2012


Goodness me Dixie - you aren't half getting stuck in!! All sounding good so far. I hope you got more done today and the muscles weren't all ceased when you got (tried to get) out of bed this morning!!

12 Nov, 2012


Quote : "to weave their way through it all and stitch it together into a fascinating patchwork quilt of colour, scents and textures throughout the seasons."
You have a lovely way of writing :o) I enjoy reading your blogs :o)
My garden gets very little sun in the winter too. It faces north-west, and only a bit gets the sun in the afternoon (when it does decide to shine on us lol)

Good luck to your natives. I hope the winter won't be too harsh on them. I look forward to hearing how they fare.

13 Nov, 2012


Hi everyone! Thank you so much for your kind comments and yes, I did get back out again yesterday, after slithering (literally on my back) out of bed and onto my knees because I couldn't turn over lol! I was so stiff, but I had a grin a mile wide because I had achieved something I have been putting off for years, the confidence to just DO it, to get out there and DIG!

I worked through non-stop from 1 pm until 4 pm just as the light was fading and in the constant drizzle that had penetrated my layers of clothing. I had decided before I started again yesterday morning as I slithered my way out of bed and staggered almost doubled over coming down the stairs that a I'd treat myself to a vegetarian cooked breakfast at the garden centre to set myself up for the day and the task ahead of me and so visited Perrywoods again for that and to get some logs and coal for my fire ready for the frosty nights, and guess what? Yes, I got seduced again into buying four more lovely climbers calling for me to: 'Buy me! Buy me! Take me home nurture and love me!' So, how could I not?? I came away with another honeysuckle, which is for shade, but cannot remember its name (good grief! You'd think I'd KNOW the names of those who had seduced me, wouldn't you?? It must have been the enticement of heady scents and creamy white, slightly blushed, pinky-yellow flowers to come). Also, two Jasmines: a winter flowering one with lovely yellow flowers called ... Ehem! um, 'Something, Something, er Nudiforum' *shuffing feet and blushing slightly in embarrassment* and another Jasmine Officialis(??), which I have already got as a well established climber covering the brick shed, and er, most of next door's the other side to me, (no, not the neighbours with The Fence on the right), but the lovely couple who I shall refer to as the Lefties with the elder. Also, I purchased a Clematis called um...'White something-or-other, Bird or Dying Swan' lol (not sure about that one either), I'll have to look at the pots they came in as the label was missing for that one and it was the last one there winking naughtily at me, but the flowers are absolutely beautiful like a bird - apparently - as displayed by a photo on the stand it was in - I will have to wait to see it flower later on and then take a photo for you all won't I?

Today, I am looking at the last stretch of The Fence at the end of my long narrow garden up behind the greenhouse that I want to turn into a veggie patch about 70 feet of it where the old dead greengage and elder used to be and what I have been calling my 'wild life patch' for the last oh, umpteen years now, but is really where the rusted-to-almost-nothing oil drum burner and huge old compost rubbish heap lives, the heap containing an old deck chair in there buried beneath last year's grass cuttings, and my very old and rotten picnic table also half submerged into it and purchased from the long-gone Woolworth's a decade ago and wasn't really heavy duty, but cheap and cheerful, so it rotted quietly away and all this is surrounded by six foot tall stinging nettles. I need to get this area sorted as for year on year its comeback, like an ancient Rock Star, has become rather tiresome and although I hate to do it its going to get the Roundup treatment I have been promising it all this year waiting for the perfect day where it isn't either: Raining, Windy, Wet, Not too Hot, not too Windy, Wet and Hot, and I guess this year we just haven't had two days the same without rain, wind or unbroken sunshine that wasn't either too hot or followed by downpours of rain and gales. So, come rain, shine, cold, windy, damp OR frost....I have run out of patience waiting for 'The Perfect Day to Spray' and that is my penultimate job to get sorted before I have to go back to work on Thursday....I will post some photos soon, although there isn't much to see yet, but I know I have achieved some minor miracles out there - I just hope they all survive my naivety and inexperience and come to fruition without too much trouble. ;^) Michelle x

13 Nov, 2012


Snowbird! That's the Clematis's name by the way....;^) I forgot the honeysuckle's name by the time I studied the plastic label walked away from it repeating it over and over as I made my way in, but got side-tracked putting my tools to bed - I had a senior moment, (must be an age thing lol) but its June flowering I know THAT much and begins with an 'H' Hallam, or something and its just too blasted dark out there now to go and look! :^)) xx

13 Nov, 2012


Hi Michelle,
You must be truly exhausted after all that hard work. It makes me feel tired just reading about it! I hope all your prickly plants grow well. They should be ok, being native plants.
I have sent you a pm :)

18 Nov, 2012

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