Bathed in early spring sunshine, as the sap begins to rise and the first hint of blossom appears; when the tiny wild iris and daffodils are almost spent. The gardener stretches, drinks the last of her tea, and emerges into the sunlight to renew her acquaintance with the soil and its potential.
The porch already boasts a pot of tulips, the house a fresh coat of paint. To the right, the potager yields the last of the winter crops - a couple of leeks, some chard - and the first of the spring plantings, lettuce perhaps. The perennials, the herbs, strawberries are showing signs of new life.
It is here, in March, that we break in to the cycle, witnesses to the round of activities that make up the gardener’s year, with timing forced by nature and the need to keep ahead, with the bugs and fungi to be controlled and compost turned, the seedlings to be nurtured and the soil rejuvenated; the grass to be cut (but not, heaven forbid, the patch given over to wild flowers) and the detritus occasionally burned, bylaws permitting of course!
Meet the Neighbours.
Susan’s Garden sits between an orchard to the left, filled with apricot trees, and an olive grove to the right, all this on land designated as farmland. The neighbours are both commercial producers.
The Noble Oak Tree
In the centre of the garden, providing shade in the summer and shelter in winter, sits an ancient and dignified oak, with an orchard ladder perched on one side, waiting for its moment of glory.
It is from here that the garden spreads its charm: the large terrace abutting the house, with the site of the pool marked out alongside; the pavilion behind (in reality this is the shed where Susan’s brother Andrew likes to sleep when he visits in the summer); the pumphouse and tractor shed beyond that. To the right, just down from the potager, the mazet. Fruit trees are to the left, stretching down to the limit of the property. A windbreak, climbing rose and wisteria growing over a frame, shelters the young trees to the left of the house.
Canes are to the ready, propped against a sculptural tree, destined for the potager and a supporting role for the legumes, tomatoes and raspberries.
The scene is set.
And lo, before March is over and this tour even conceived, with all the urgency that nature brings to life, the oak is shrouded in the lightest green mist of bursting leaves, signalling that it is time to get to work.