Today is not quite as hot as yesterday but it starts suffocatingly warm. After early morning watering and getting dad up, I eat a large bowl of mixed berries with Greek yogurt and some of our honey and decide I will not start working in the garden until it cools down.
Instead I resolve to spend some time on my book, under a tree! Last year, Patrick made four picnic benches for our open days. We have already put two out on the grass in the sun near the pool and yesterday we set out the remaining two down the slope in the shade of a large nut tree. This has given us somewhere cooler to eat our lunch and it has also given me somewhere perfect to write my book. It was lovely sitting in the shade on such a beautiful day and I felt very thankful to Patrick for constructing such sturdy benches. I spent several hours writing with a break for lunch – halloumi wraps with lots of garden salad and garlic – until Patrick set Aideen and I a task. After the visit from the Hillingdon Arboricultural manager on Wednesday, we agreed to produce a survey-plan of the trees causing a problem on the Arcaded wall. On the day of her visit I battled my way through the undergrowth to access the top of the wall and have a look at the tree situation more closely. Shouting down to Patrick, at the lower level in the garden, what I could see, now he wanted me to do the same and identify all the trees and shout their names to Aideen so she could write them on a plan. It is not easy getting to the top of the wall, you have to push your way through an overgrown gate from our parking area, then pick your way through the brambles and nettles, clambering through fallen branches to reach the higher level. (The ground is built up behind the wall) The first section before the arcades begin and before you cross the ‘haha’ is very overgrown. I managed to make contact with Aideen by waving a dead branch and shouting. Then, the tricky process of tree identification began, very tricky because every tree is choc-a-block with ivy, often swamping any native leaves, making every tree look the same! After much peering upwards into the leaves, I managed to decipher many sycamores of various sizes, lots of hawthorns, one Yew, one horse chestnut and a nut tree, one oak and some elder, and a very large ash. Some of the trees are monstrous, in particular, two sycamores, one growing in the ‘ha-ha’ and one at the end of the arcades, which would probably cause more harm than good if we tried to remove it (it will require a lot of cutting back). Producing this tree survey was quite entertaining, with Aideen losing count of her arches and me squinting at tree canopies desperately trying to spot a ‘non-ivy’ leaf. It is also quite a delicate operation trying not to drop through a hole in the top of the wall and it was surprisingly difficult to find my way back to the gate at the end!
I then went for a quick swim to soothe the stings and mosquito bites from my woodland foray. I then went out in the garden to clear the area at the back of the central border where I intend to plant the banana trees and remaining cannas. By this time the sky is dark and I’m hoping for rain which will then soak these unpromising areas before planting. Whilst I fend off the pampas grass at the back of the border, James comes outside to show me my belated birthday present from him – a very cleverly adjustable sprinkler! He hopes it will help our watering problems, I really appreciate his thoughtfulness but I am a little dubious at how it will work with our elaborate geometric arrangement of 56 raised beds. It will be difficult to concentrate the water where needed rather than soaking paths and wooden edging boards. Over the next hour James and I soak ourselves thoroughly as we try to position the sprinkler in the most beneficial position. We both decide that the sprinkler might be more useful watering a bigger more open area. It isn’t easy devising a watering system for our raised beds, but I very much appreciate James’s effort to help.