Jun 24 2015

Summer at Last

Soft rain is falling, the perfect pick-me-up for a sun scorched garden. Flowers turn their heads upwards drinking in the refreshing draft. Petals glisten, trees drip, tiny spiders’ webs catch the rain drops on the grass shedding a strange haze across the lawn.

The first strawberries glisten in the fruit cage, sweet peas waft scent across the vegetable garden and roses are bursting into flower. Blue geraniums cascade beneath the huge Embothrium as its scarlet flowers fade at last.

Buddleia Alternafolia frames Bridget McCrum’s little bird as it sits on its high altar above the pond. Water lilies attract darting damsel flies. The garden glows.

Last weekend we opened once more for the National Garden Scheme. Dry, sunny weather brought the crowds; “Yellow Book people”, I call them, all gardeners, knowledgeable, interested and interesting. Some local and some on holiday from far flung places. The same questions over and over. “What is that wonderful scarlet tree? “Is that Astrantia in the border, what variety? “What sort of Buddleia is that?” “How long have you been here, is this a frost pocket”? “How much help do you have”?…………………..!

I love it all and suddenly I see the garden afresh after all the hard work. For months my eyes have only seen those things which still needed attention!
Teas were very popular again this year in our newly refurbished “Tea Hut”; more space at last and no leaking roof! Now that the wonderful Anchorstone Café has also taken over the Sharpham Café they had no time to bake me hundreds of scones this year, so cream teas were off. Instead they put me in touch with “Te Cake” a new little bakery in Harbertonford. Their cakes were delicious and flew off the shelf!
I wish them well, they deserve it! www.tecake.co.uk .

In just two afternoons we were able to send off nearly £1000 to the NGS Nursing Charities. All that hard work had really paid off once more.
By Sunday evening we were exhausted and collapsed with our dear friends from France, who had come to help. We restored ourselves with a large glass of French wine and a free range spatchcocked chicken I had prepared the day before accompanied by a big salad and Jersey Royal potatoes followed by fresh fruit and English cheeses. We all slept well!

Next day Michael and Evelyne left for home in Brittany and it was time for shearing. As the sun beat down it was a joy to see the great heavy fleeces fall from the ewes under Phil’s expert shears. The girls shook with relief as he finished, wriggling as they jumped to their feet, lighter and leaner. They raced from the yard onto the fresh new grass of Sunday Orchard, a big steep east facing field, each ewe calling and searching for her now sturdy lamb. The chaos after shearing always makes me smile as the lambs take a while to recognise their new slim-line mothers.

Clover carpets the track up to the top fields as I walk the dogs through the soft rain.

Long wet grass glistens their coats and brushes against my now soaking trousers. Wild roses and huge plates of Elderflower blossom scent the hedgerows. Honeysuckle stealthily clambers up amongst the prickly twigs and shiny leaves of hawthorn.

Tiny green sloes and crab apples hide deep in the bushes. Bracken threatens to engulf the top of the orchard and the grass is waist high. Now that the wild flowers have finally seeded, Gheorghe will start cutting through the huge swathes with the mighty mower called “The Doctor”, an awesome great machine capable of tackling such steep ground unsuitable for a tractor. Then the sheep will be allowed in to finish his job fertilising the ground for another year. The cycle continues.
Summer has arrived.

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