I’m a Lumberjack (And I’m okay…mostly)

The time-vampire effort-vortex, otherwise known as the garden, was at it again. I was chipping away at what appeared to be a low stone wall, but in actual fact was closer to the great wall of china. I managed to organise the cordon fruit trees and plant out the raised beds, but much of the routine maintenance had fallen by the wayside. The walls and fences needed painting, the decking oiled, and everything else needed weeded and trimmed. The tasks were fast becoming insurmountable, particularly with a small child in tow. Having the distraction of side projects didn’t help either.

As the famous quote from Hamilton astutely observes, “Immigrants, they get the job done”. In this case we made use of willing migrant labour – my parents visiting from the states spent their quarantine sorting the garden. Together they formed an unstoppable force, clearing wasteland and landscaping at a rate previously unknown on our property. Thankfully their visit coincided with the best stretch of weather this year.

Several trees had been choked by ivy (one beyond saving) and a few larger trees needed branches removed. I put on my best lumberjack gear and brought out the electric chainsaw. In my mind “electric” and “chainsaw” made for a wimpy combination, but the reality was a slightly terrifying but highly effective piece of kit. Most of the time was spent planning and minimising the risk. The branches were down in no time at all once we’d decided where it was safe for them to fall.

I’m a lumberjack and I’m okay…

The beds at the side of the house were verdant but overgrown, and mint and lemon balm had broken out of pots and were spreading like wildfire. The adjacent weeds were climbing over the fencing too, and the bamboo clumps were growing out of control. One bamboo stem had reached about eight feet high. Not quite Eden project proportions, but still impressive and in desperate need of taming. Don’t let the beautiful weather in the before picture distract you, there is a massive improvement. The daisies taking over the cordon were also moved to the side beds to free up space.

The patio arrangement, before and after

A portion of the garden appeared to be used as a dump by the previous homeowners with all sorts hidden by undergrowth. Concrete blocks, slabs, old fencing and even London bricks which may have originated from a local foundry. The space is now destined to house a multi-compartment pallet compost bin when I can get hold of the raw materials.

Taming the wilderness behind the house

The corkscrew hazel, previously in front of the cordon, was moved to the bed at the end of the lawn. Relocating the taller plants will allow a lot more light to reach the fruit trees, hopefully facilitating more vigorous growth and fruit production. Moving established trees is always a bit dicey but so far the hazel doesn’t appear too shocked.

The new home for the hazel tree

The cordon looking a lot tamer than before

That’s just a fraction of the work my parents have been doing. I pitched in where I could, and one of the small projects I completed was a mini raised bed for the fruit bushes. After a liberal application of a 14 pound sledgehammer, the concrete at the edge of the patio was broken up and drainage-friendly. I used the left over oak from the main raised beds to create a small space into which we will grow raspberries, blackcurrants, redcurrants and gooseberries. If the gooseberries haven’t been completely destroyed by sawfly, that is.

This has been a “before and after” heavy post but it is important to illustrate how much of a difference there is. I have a number of other projects in progress, but the garden is no longer weighing quite so heavily on my mind.

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