It's time to get back into a regular routine and that means reviving the daily 'lunchtime garden work-out', not just for me but also for the senior under-gardeners and the Spice Girls.
I remember doing this last year and the year before: pruning and tying-in the blackberry stems – reducing a wild tangle of thorny stems into a neat arrangement of healthy arching stems tied along the wire supports. It was like a scene from a medieval calendar (I love those medieval manuscript illustrations showing toiling peasants). Picture me as the peasant working in the cold winter fields, complete with wool shawl swathed around my neck to keep me snug and warm. Other essential accessories include stout thorn-proof gloves and sharp secateurs. To secure the stems to the wires I was able to re-use last year's plastic ties – a modern, not medieval, invention and an excellent investment.
Job done . . .
The task was made even more enjoyable because it was to the accompaniment of robins singing their territorial songs and the soft mutterings of the senior under-gardeners and the extremely enthusiastic Spice girls, as they rummaged in piles of leaves under the Bramley apple tree. When the robin on the nearby apple branch seemed to be singing a solo I realised that the hens had moved on to a far more exciting activity – slight panic! What UGP* had they dreamt up today? Ahhh, good girls – compost turning.
Time for lunch girls! Thankfully, like the under-gardeners, the Spices have now been trained to recognise the long curvy stick that, when held out like a skilled shepherd holds a crook, signals 'time to go back through the green gate' . . .
*UGP = unauthorised gardening project