The Wonders of Sloe

The sloes came bundled up in February, heeled in and left as we carved our way down the old orchard hedge turning over the soil and creating new beds.

Orchard view out towards the moors.

It is now March, today is the Spring Equinox and we are all on the wonderful slide towards summer but the weather has been wet for nearly a month. The nights have frozen the ground and even in the glasshouse the heating is struggling to keep the temperature above zero. We hope for a good summer. Today our polytunnel came, a day early, and we hope it is an omen for a good summer but all we ask is for a few days of dry weather, warm and good light. We're not going to run out and get the tunnel up. We're going to get out and finish off the hedge. The other day, just before the first and hopefully last snow hit (you can see the first flakes sticking in the photo below), we got out and started taking over turf for the new beds and carving our way into the rubble that underpins the orchard hedge. We want to plug up these gaps with sloe but the turf is sodden, the sub soil frozen and every thirty minutes you have to take a rest as the upper arms ache and breath comes in short bursts. It's not a question of being unhealthy, it is more an answer that the air is cold, cold enough to drill down into the bones and make you ache at each step. 

Starting a bee bank, the ground work.

These beds have to be made, not just for the bee bank that will run through them but for sanity. We cannot have another 2012, we cannot have another wet, cold summer. It would finish us all off, it wouldn't be tiresome, it wouldn't be annoying, it would simply be a sign that British summers could be changing permanently. We don't want to put all our garden undercover, even when turning over turf we are open to the landscape and there is nothing like taking a break with views that spread across the top of the world. At least there is one thing, that awful half dead conifer at the northern boundary is gone now and the ash behind can stretch out. We may even plant another ash further along for a windbreak. We hope the sloe hedging will work wonders, not just as a windbreak but as a sign of spring and warmth.

Felling unwanted conifers.