After a summer slaving away creating the new borders in the garden, carting tonnes of soil and tilling more we decided that we needed a break. We hadn’t had time off work in months and it was becoming more and more difficult to get motivated to be out into the garden to finish the borders before the end of the season. Working either at work or in the garden just carried on and on all season long, seemingly with no end in sight. We were getting desperate just to have a sit down. The work and our depleted energy meant that we didn’t get out often, spent the best of the weather toiling and were generally under stress and pressure to finish what we’d started. It wasn’t sustainable and eventually, we had to call time and book some holiday for a rest before it got medical.
We came to a natural rest when the holiday coincided with the weather turning decidedly awful around the start of September. There was still half of Fruit Avenue to complete but at this point, we didn’t care and decided that we would just finish that off next season. The bare root trees that I had already ordered to go in this yet-to-be-made border would just be temporarily planted elsewhere. I was desperately looking forward to two long weeks of full-on intensive slobbing.
Of course, it didn’t turn out that way.
The garden work meant that the house had gone to pot and my parents – as welcome as they are – decided to visit us for a week while we were off. Cue four days of intensive cleaning, hovering, washing, laundering, polishing and sterilising in anticipation of their arrival. The first part of our holiday was spent desperately catching up on a whole summer’s worth of backed-up chores. I had just finished cleaning the underside of the door handles when my parents turned up.
As soon as they did, the dreary, murky, cold wet weather inexplicably became dry, warm and sunny. We were even able to sit and eat outside in the sunshine. I spent a few days pottering about in the garden occasionally turning my eye to the unfinished border, wondering whether to just do a little bit more. I decided not to and enjoyed the time with my parents while they were staying.
They left, we cleaned up and one day paused to notice that – almost a week later – it was still warm, sunny and dry. With just under a week of holiday left we would have to make one last push to complete Fruit Avenue before we had to go back to work. This really would be our last chance this year, if we missed this small window of opportunity, it would be over six months before we could work on it again. It really wasn’t a question of “if” and so it was with not a small amount of moaning and groaning that we decided to get the tiller out again.
It took three intensive, full days of barrowing soil, tilling, churning and mixing before we reached the end of Fruit Avenue. It then took another day to sculpt and shape the border and to restore the edges. In the time we had left we also managed to finished the remaining piece of The Crescent and plant it up. This final effort completely drained us; we were now completely shattered and it was the weekend before we headed back into work on Monday.
So much for a sit down.
But at least Fruit Avenue is now complete.
It doesn’t look it, but that border is sixteen metres long and nearly two metres wide. It runs all the way from the lower terrace to half-way down the garden. The bamboo sticks are where I plan to plant the bare root trees. I’m hoping to have six and then there will be soft fruit bushes dotted about too. The trees will be arriving in the winter and they’ll be ready to go in as soon as they do. Beside each tree I will also plant a clematis from the front patio trugs. Those clematis have done even poorly than last year so it’s time to admit defeat and move them out. I can then plant something less embarrassing in the trugs to replace them. I’ll fill in the gaps between the trees and fruit bushes with herbaceous perennials and summer bulbs.
The work we put into the garden this year has been incredible and I’m still not really sure how we both managed it, however the effort hasn’t been without cost and it’s left us fatigued. I’m wondering whether I can gather the energy for a session of planting spring bulbs. I had grand plans to plant hundreds and hundreds of spring bulbs but at this point in time, I’m not sure I can face the effort and so I still haven’t made my mind up about whether to save it for another year or just do a small part.
As the weather gets colder and the growing season comes to an end, the shorter days are beginning to trigger my “winter hibernation” mode where I essentially go dormant for a few months, hoping to awaken refreshed and rearing to go in late winter/early spring. Looking at how the garden has been transformed in just two seasons, I’d say the rest is well deserved.