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Wednesday, 18 April 2012

Over the garden gate

Looking back in. The lilacs are just coming into bloom (although you'd need to click on the
photo to enlarge it to see that) and the big tree covered in blossom is our huge old cherry.

To explain our property a bit, the main part of our garden, which is approximately 2 acres, is enclosed by a wire mesh perimeter fence. We do however own land on the outside of it. There's the little orchard across the lane, but then we also own the steep banks on the outside of the fence that slope down into the ditch, the ditch itself and then the grass verge up to about 1 metre from the road! Luckily the council comes around frequently during the growing season to mow the verges (although my OH does that anyway with his ride on mower) and at the end of the growing season, someone comes along and cuts back the vegetation in the ditches. This clears up a lot of the jungle that you see in the next picture and keeps it vaguely under control.

On the outside. You may just be able to make out a fence post - that's where the fence is. This is about the limit of where we managed to control the out of the control Leylandii when we moved here and turn it into a neat(ish) hedge. After that the trees are mostly Thuya and, basically, just left as trees as it's impossible to get to from the road side to trim them back.

This is also where I used to go blackberry picking, but I had to stand on a very steep slope above the ditch, using an alpine walking stick to help balance and also to whack wayward brambles and six foot high nettles out of my face. It was never very easy and of course, the better ones were always out of reach!

Now I've given up as many summers are dry and the blackberries are less than juicy so I am growing the thornless cultivated ones inside the garden and leave this patch over to nature. Many birds love the thickets of brambles, especially the blackcaps, and I often hear their song coming from this direction when I'm in the garden.

This is also where our stream comes out from the overflow, so in the foreground is actually running stream, but it's already getting overgrown with all the unidentified umbellifer plants that love the damp or wet ditches around here.

This is up the road a bit and round the corner with my property boundary on the right, towards the end of the lake. From where the bushiness stops and you see a couple of lone trees is where the stream is that runs into our lake. Anway, the real reason to showing this less than exciting for you photo is that I am jumping for joy that for the first time since we moved here, Farmer Giles has left an uncultivated margin.

I was reading in a newsletter last year from the organisation responsible for the ecology and management of the main river that runs through these parts (for which our stream is a tributary) that a 10 metre wide margin must be left between cultivated fields and watercourses. Yeah yeah yeah, I thought, like that ever happens. He always ploughs as close as he possibly can to our fence! Well, it must be a new law because it has happened which is great news! Also, from a purely selfish point of view, it means we can walk up here far more easily instead of stumbling over the edges of the ploughed furrows.

This is our fence that runs across the stream bed and our lake starts just the other side. This is why we need to get up here in the summer, when the stream has dried up, to check our perimeter fence from the other side, clear any overhanging dead branches and general debris that's washed up against the fence.

I walked a little bit further on, and whilst the stream is still flowing, it's not very fast. It's been helped by recent rain in April but we've still had very little rain this year and our department, Ille et Vilaine, is already on drought vigilance alert. Some departments are in a very bad situation and have water restrictions already in place.

You'll probably laugh, but I took this photo because I couldn't figure out what tree this was. I knew it wasn't Alder, googled Poplar but that has catkins too. I know those two trees grow all along beside the lake and up the stream. When I found out what it was I nearly kicked myself for not thinking of it. It's Ash!! We have ash trees here, but this is a young one so the flowers were low down - our ash trees are far bigger so I wouldn't have seen them in my face as it were!

Finally, I couldn't resist. All the grazing fields around here are an absolute picture at the moment with all the dandelions in full bloom. It's not as arty as I was trying to achieve but heck I was squatting down trying not to touch the electric fence or fall into the ditch so this will have to do! :-)


  1. Front gate looks trés flash.............. ;-) A Nonny Mouse

  2. I bet that you also have a rustic kitchen and a warm log fire.
    Country idyll.

  3. Thanks for the tour of your property--lovely! We live on a farm, so I can relate to all the "wild" areas you have, though I wish I had a little stream running through it like yours. The last photo is fantastic--glad you didn't get zapped by the electric fence taking it!

  4. Not only do I like your pictures (looks like a great place to live), but I like that you get out and actually walk around! =)

  5. The Bludger - yes to a lovely warm wood burner, but the kitchen - it's what was here when we bought the place - the cupboard style is 'Provencal', though I wouldn't say the kitchen was really Provencal style. Guess it's somewhere between rustic and modern! More functional than anything else which suits me. Madame who owned the house before us came from Provence, which is maybe why she chose this kitchen style.

    Rose - thanks - I wasn't actually sure whether the fence was on or not as no horses in the paddock at the time, but wasn't going to take any chances!

    Polly - I didn't go very far!!! I'm actually itching to get out for a walk, but we are having real April showery weather so it's not a good idea right now :-( (although I am pleased for the garden!)