No wild walks in Greece: taking a positive view.

One of the inevitable consequences of spending the last three summers trekking in Greece has been that the garden has been neglected.  It’s about ¼ acre, a lot to neglect.   

Many people living nearby have moved as they got older, unable to manage the upkeep, especially as neighbouring houses are on a hillside with a fair old slope.  Not wanting to move, some years ago I started a programme to reduce the amount of maintenance required in the garden. First step was to plant the bottom with a variety of acers to give colour and inhibit vegetation underneath.  One of the pleasing things about being home this year has been to see how effective that strategy is proving to be.  A micro ‘acer glade’ with understory of wild flowers.

Looking towards the acer planting from the balcony

Looking towards the acer planting from the balcony

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A closer view of one side of the acer garden

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Understorey of Aquilegia vulgaris (a species of columbine) and buttercups

I had turned the middle section of the garden into a series of stone terraces for vegetables and a walled fruit garden.  For the last 3 years I have been planting only winter veg as I wasn’t around to harvest anything in the summer.  Now I can plant summer veg as well. Looking forward to courgettes, French beans, tomatoes, lettuce and the rest.

Unfortunately I have not been here to harvest the soft fruit and so for 3 years raspberries, strawberries, gooseberries, blueberries, redcurrants, blackcurrants have all gone to waste.  This year looks like being a heavy crop, probably a response to the longer than usual winter and one of the coldest springs on record.  My freezer will be bursting at the seams …. as long as I can keep the birds off.

I have also missed the flowering of perennials in the borders.  Not so this year, they are quite spectacular.  It has been especially satisfying to see the variety of irises which I’m gradually accumulating.

Looking down the iris bed alongside a new gravel path

Looking down the iris bed alongside a new gravel path

Even on a gloomy, wet day the iris's are spectacularly coloured

Even on a gloomy, wet day the irises are spectacularly coloured

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Dutch irises are going rampant

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Some colours are especially bright

A Welsh Poppy bows its head under the rain

A Welsh Poppy bows its head under the rain

The long term strategy of applying the minimum maintenance stage further and further up the garden had stalled in recent years but is now back on track.  I have been keeping fit by humping rocks, paving blocks, sand and gravel around and laying paths.  I must admit that I find large-scale landscaping projects more creative and satisfying than maintenance. Not what I expected to be doing this summer but, as they say, it’s good to make a virtue out of a necessity.

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