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Counting bricks

13 MAY 2020

The weather is still dry but chilly, I walk all the way round the orchard thinking… my mind is imagining what might be nice to have in the far corner of the orchard, and I spend breakfast surrounded by books on ‘wild gardening’ and ‘woodland and natural gardening’ day dreaming. At this point Patrick comes over from his office looking very intense, he has just found a source of reclaimed Tudor bricks at a competitive price. This puts paid to my day dreaming, because if we are going to buy thousands of bricks for wall repairs and restoration my corner of the orchard will have to become a brick storage yard for the foreseeable future! I do understand his enthusiasm because it can be very hard to source this type of brick and they can be exorbitantly expensive. Later in the day Patrick and I walk round the orchard working out how many bricks we will need (approximately) and what size; each section of this historic wall has been built using different sized bricks, due to wall repairs and changing the height of the wall throughout the centuries. We also try to count (approximately) how many bricks we already have which are stacked on pallets in the two far corners of the orchard. These are a combination of our own 17thCentury bricks which we have salvaged from where bits of wall have fallen down, and two sizes of new handmade bricks which we have bought at different times for restoring other sections of wall. Ironically we always seem to be surrounded by bricks, but we never have enough bricks!


My time in the garden starts with more watering. Firstly, the fruit cage (I am very happy with the fruit cage which is full of newly formed fruit), the fruit cage borders and new sweet peas, the vines on the mount and the new perennial planting. I also dead head and water the auriculas. I decide to stay in the poly tunnel today, partly to sow more seeds. This is partly sowing seeds in trays where not everything has germinated, in a tray of parsnips, flat leaved parsley, quinoa, saltwort and samphire. Sometimes germination is erratic and its worth trying again. I also planted my next lot of lettuces (6 varieties), a new tray of spinach (4 varieties), a tray of ‘later season’ cauliflowers (4 varieties) and cabbage (3 varieties). The latter is something I rarely remember to do because there is usually so much going on, but in our present circumstances it hasn’t been overlooked. I then spend time transplanting flowers from small module trays to larger ones and carefully separating tiny pansy and viola seedlings that have seeded more than one in a module. This is another job I wouldn’t normally have time for in a ‘normal’ year. I transfer amaranthus, cleome and heliotrope before deciding to come inside because it was getting late and cold. Inside, Diane has been painting doors on the landing a very nice shade of light grey/green and she takes me to see Pip (our black cat) who is sleeping on her bed with the end of her tail streaked with grey/green!

For the record we have had one of the coldest nights in May since 1982, ironic considering the weather throughout April and early May was probably the warmest at that time of year on record! This doesn’t make judging ‘planting out’ times any easier!

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