Sunday, 25 March 2012

A spring trim

With the good weather everything has started to grow at the gallop chez nous. Eric's field is showing the very faintest of yellow sheens where the colza will burst into flower very very soon. Round the south side of our house the cowslips are in their full acid yellow glory; the occasional renegade which sports red flowers excepted.
renegade red cowslip
The wild grape hyacinths add a welcome splash of blue and we have loads of the tiny scented violets. The tulips we put in are coming along nicely showing a hint of the colour to come.

March according adage is the time for pruning. Earlier this month we dealt with the roses and they are now sending out their first leaves. However, we still had some other bushes earmarked for a trim and have been dealing with these over the last week or so.
spring flower carpet
The previous owners who live in Paris loved the house but illness prevented them coming down here as often as they liked. When they did, neither was able to undertake much outdoors so bushes and small ornamental trees which had been planted on purpose didn't have much care lavished on them. By the time we bought the house things had grown leggy with crowding and too little sunlight. Now we are cutting them back to see if we can re-energise them. The land the house sits in is open woodland and we want to it maintain it in a 'tidied wild' state. As a result you'd be hard pressed to notice all the cutting back we have done.

looking towards chemin, cut back forsythia at start of our drive
Just by the entrance to our property are two forsythia bushes. They may, long ago, have started out as cultivated, but both are now truly wild and untamed. One of them 'belongs', if that is the right word, to one of the ruined houses slowly sinking into the woods. The other straddles our land. It had grown triffid-like with great overarching stems which hung down in a curtain and narrowed the end of the already small chemin and entrance to our drive. Last week we sallied forth with the lopping shears, saw and secateurs to do battle.

We didn't want to trim it into super tidy shape -- this is not a suburban garden after all; but we did want it cut back so that one could at least see the start of our drive from the chemin and not be attacked by it when passing by. To look at it now you would not think that we cut it back all that much, but looks are deceptive -- we have taken out a fair chunk.

The other bushes we have seen to are a very leggy lilac and and one of our many hazels. We also got rid of a huge woodbine which had invaded a japanese quince and neighbouring bush.
pruning, Charnizay style!
Not so down by the Aigronne. Charnizay too decided to undertake some pruning. Theirs however has been on a much larger scale, with the culling of enormous mature poplars. This has really opened up the stream which had been turning into a green tunnel. As we approached the little footbridge to take the photos a sleek 'Ratty' [water vole] shot into the water. Sadly too fast for us to take a photo.
poplar stumps to the right
poplar stumps to the left

18 comments:

The Broad said...

Your part of the world is so beautiful. Interesting thing about forsythia -- we chopped down a bush in our garden that had gone crazy and it grew back again and now you would never know it had been cut so severely. When you mention violets I understand from a gardener we once had that we have quite a crop of them bordering on the terrace which grow in profusion and which smell divinely. Unfortunately, we have never seen them ... :-(

the fly in the web said...

We had a red cowslip too...just one clump. We tried splitting it, but it would take nowhere else.

A keen gardening friend - whose garden was always so much tidier than ours . told me that the art of recovering trees and bushes that have gone wild is to finish lopping while they still look a bit wild, but have plenty of light let in.

Perpetua said...

Lovely pictures. Spring has come with such a rush that we're all trying to get things under control. :-) I love the red cowslip. I know we have primroses under the hedges in France, but we've only seen them bloom a couple of times. Our cutting back and tidying all has to happen in the summer.

Food, Fun and Life in the Charente said...

You have done so much work, well done. You are way ahead of us I have yet to see a cowslip out and I have never seen a red one. Wow. Diane

GaynorB said...

You have a delightful garden and woodland area. I'm sure that your hard work cutting back will make it even more so.

Niall & Antoinette said...

@Broad - forsythias are as tough as old boots. Last year we dealt with 2 nearer the house and chopped them back very hard and they are now a manageable size and flowering.

Niall & Antoinette said...

@fly - oh I'm good at the lopping :-) Niall does the carting away after I've wreaked destruction. I'm not horribiy scientific, but do indeed try to make sure I 'open them up' and not just chop round the outside.

I really love the red colour break; we have some orangy ones as well.

Jane and Lance Hattatt said...

Hello Niall and Antoinette:
A veritable chain saw massacre at Charnizay, we see!! However, we are sure that it is all to the good and, for the Forsythia at least, it will, perhaps sadly, not be too long before it has grown back to where it was. That shrub we regard as indestructible!!

But, how lovely it is to see the spring flowers carpeting the field. The countryside around you is looking really beautiful!

Niall & Antoinette said...

@Perpetua - we'll we're just trying to keep up! There will be plenty more to keep in check!

Oddly although we have zillions of cowslips; there's not a primrose to be seen.

Niall & Antoinette said...

@Diane - we'd never seen this colour break either until last spring which was our first here.
We've done quite a lot but you'd never know it to look at! Only when you see the piles of what we've cut out does it seem quite a bit.

Niall & Antoinette said...

@Gaynor - thanks :-) Just as well it isn't a 'proper' garden as we'd never manage the upkeep! :-)

Niall & Antoinette said...

@Jane & Lance - it was indeed! We could occasionally hear the chainsaws hard at it when wind blew in our direction.
Do indeed agree. Like hazel forsythia is a bit of a thug and can take anything thrown at it!

Tim said...

The removal of the unpopular poplars is all down to the ammenagement of the Aigronne. There is a notice all about it just before you get into Petit Pressigny. We are going to be blogging about it. Your ones pictured look good quality... but many are over-mature, some very rotten indeed... and the banks are in danger of erosion when they blow over...

On another note... our Charnizay Red didn't survive our big freeze... we are very sad!

domi said...

Love reading all this -- a sweet substitute until I can figure out how to get over to visit! -nikki

Niall & Antoinette said...

@Tim - we've seen a number of the notices concerning the ammenagement and they are doing quite a bit of it. All to the good as far as we can tell.
We have quite a few colour breaks so if you fancy son/daughter of Charnizay Red let us know :-)

Niall & Antoinette said...

@Nikki - you're so welcome! but it would be great if you could get yourself over here to see it for real :-)!

Louise said...

Thank you for such wonderful detail and photos. We are having a lovely autumn here in Westrn Australia. But I miss seeing spring in France.

Niall & Antoinette said...

@Louise - Welcome! :-) Glad you enjoyed the post.
It is indeed a super spring so far! But much as it pains me to say it; we do need some rain now.