Playing the long game

A monthly diary of activities and progress in Susan’s Garden.

Photo heavy, text light, following a natural timeline.

The heart of a poppy, host to a tiny traveller.

The heart of a poppy, host to a tiny traveller.

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The teams are ready, the whistle has blown: kick-off! It’s game on. After the end of season clear-out in March, the new team has been selected, positions confirmed in April. The crowd starts to arrive for the game: snails (occupying the best seats in the stands, of course), slugs, good insects, bad fungus. It’s not all roses you know.

And the opposition appears with alarming speed! Suddenly the field is full of threats and the gardener’s instincts for survival kick in.

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Now it’s a question of attack and defence: attack the fungus with Bouillie Bordelaise; defend against the interlopers with ash and other deterrents; protect your stars so they can build the plays; admire the dazzling but brief displays of natural talent, applaud the promising but slim early-season pickings and - always - have an eye for the future.

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This game of gardening is played long: it takes stamina and patience and imagination and one eye cast over the shoulder to progress to the holy grail. The gardener’s eye never rests.


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In Susan’s garden, in May, she met with all these elements. Apart from the never-ending mistral rendering the cypress horizontal, drying everything in sight and making the task of painting the house nigh on impossible, Susan brought her best game. The reward was, at the end of the month a bijou score: a basket of beautiful ruby red cherries.

In training! May 9: Permaculture - trying something new

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Attack! May 25: Orchard blues - fighting off fungus

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Half time show! May 25: The wild crowd.

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Defend! May 25: Ashes to ashes - first defence against molluscs

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It’s a goal! May 30: Cherry picking - sweet reward

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April shows its teeth

A monthly diary of activities and progress in Susan’s Garden.

Photo heavy, text light, following a natural timeline.

Green strawberries and red lettuce

Green strawberries and red lettuce

April wandered in on the promise of March’s beautiful spring sunshine. It didn’t take long to show its teeth: wind from the north, temperatures plummeting; rain. Rain!! At last!!! First one spring garden party date washed out, then another pushed back. Poor Susan - 35 of her closest friends now had to wait until May for the ginguette.

The fig tree bursts out

The fig tree bursts out

Then the wind turned to the south, bearing Saharan sand and turning every surface yellow. And finally, during the night of April 25, it hit: Flash! Kaboom! Flash!kaboom! Cats! Dogs! Driven into the ground by the relentless wind, lights flickering, then off.

Marigolds, the garden’s natural protectors

Marigolds, the garden’s natural protectors

But the garden soaked up the moisture thirstily and the gardener took her chances when they were presented. Finally, between showers, in some glorious evening sun, the potager shimmered and strutted and showed off its rapid progress.

April 5th: Caned! Raspberries, beans, peas brought in line

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April 9: She went to mow a meadow

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April 18: A burning desire

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Marching into spring

A monthly diary of activities and progress in Susan’s Garden.

Photo heavy, text light, following a natural timeline.

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The warming spring sun is beginning to work its magic. The roses are stretching, the tools ready and the seed trays are being introduced to the gentle light of lengthening days. The shadows are still long, but the work must begin.

There's a winter’s worth of ground cover to be cleared, reclaiming the fertile soil of the potager from its natural tendency to return home to mother nature.

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The remains of winter linger: a last kick at the slow-cooked can as it were. So the last of the leeks and chard come out and the first of the summer crops are planted.

And there’s always a lemon to add a bit of zing…

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March 20: the potatoes are in!

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March 25: Feeding the roses

In Susan’s Garden, its all natural.

Compost is home-grown of course.

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