I was away from home for a few days last week, working in St.Helier, Jersey. About an hour before I left home, my neighbour came to our door and announced that he was replacing the fence between our two properties (you may remember that it was damaged in a storm in January, and temporarily repaired). No sooner had he said this than a tradesman arrived with a van load of fence-posts and wooden panels. I had asked my neighbour to give me some warning of when the job was to be done, but I really didn't expect it to be just five minutes' notice! Foolishly, I had given permission for "access to my property" to help with erecting the fence. Little did I know that because it was easier to do the job from my side rather than the other, the fencing man would forthwith invade my beloved garden with his complete paraphernalia, tools, clumsy boots, noisy radio and all!
Since I had to leave, all I had time to do was remove the Raspberry wires from the old fence and issue a stern warning about being careful of my plants. You can imagine that I was very worried about what would happen while I was away. Of course Jane would still be at home, but she doesn't know the garden in detail like I do. "It looks OK," she told me when we spoke on the telephone. "At least, the trees are still standing." I was only too well aware though that underneath the trees my Raspberry canes were just beginning to put up their first tentative - and delicate - shoots. I arrived home in the evening, well after dark, but I was out first thing the following morning to inspect the site, fearing the worst. This is what the new fence looks like (After my clearing-up efforts).
Well, I have to say that it could have been worse. I have lost most of the Aquilegias along the side of the house (the ones I wrote about last week); some branches were broken off my Rosemary bushes; lots of the Raspberry plants were damaged (though they will probably recover - apart from the ones that got concreted-in at the base of the new fence-posts!), and there was mud, sawdust and general debris all over the place, but thankfully no major damage. My neighbour reassures me that the fence is of good quality, with a planned lifetime of 20 years. Let's hope he is right! My only real worry is about what the local Badgers will think of the concrete gravel-boards on which the new fence panels sit. They are intended, I am told, to create an impenetrable barrier right across the Badgers' ancient highway. They will presumably be most unamused by this, and will no doubt wreak their revenge on MY garden! Sometimes, the gardener's lot is not a happy one...
Anyway, thinking positively, my photos of the fence at least give me the opportunity to show you some closer views of my fruit trees. The two well-established ones - one apple and one pear - are trained as Minarettes. In other words they are grafted onto miniature rootstocks, and are kept very slim, with short branches.
In theory, Minarettes should be supported to their full height by stout stakes, but I'm afraid mine aren't. Their stakes are 6-ft ones, with about 1 foot below ground. You can see in the photo below what happens when you DON'T stake a tree like this properly: it bends over! Also, the branches really ought to be even shorter than I have cut mine. You can also see the new Bramley apple-tree just a few feet away, at the right in this next photo.
Well, you have to admit that the new fence looks neat, and sturdy. It won't be long before I re-attach my Raspberry wires! In the foreground you can see my Longrow cloches all placed on one bed now.
Two of them are protecting my first-sown row of Broad Beans - which haven't germinated yet - and the other two are warming the soil for the next row of them. No sign of any Asparagus spears coming up just yet. That's in the bed at the left front of the photo above. The garden looks pretty bare at present, with the exception of the PSB, but at least it's tidy. Hopefully I will soon be able to sow some seeds.