Our mild early Spring has tempted me into the garden – sadly neglected after my year of travelling. I’m looking forward to giving it more attention this growing season. What I got up to today was less gardening than restoring/tidying. This past fortnight has seen regular incursions by the neighbouring sheep population. Clumsy-hooved and fat-fleeced, they’ve trampled the already thin grass and snapped off lots of low branches. One of the few shrubs that thrives up here, a climbing hydrangea has suffered the loss of many buds. The garden’s been littered with broken stems and twigs, strands of wool trailing everywhere.
The two brightest sights are: the ivy, glossy and constellated with its strange sputnik flowers, and the small tête-à-tête daffodils, cheerful and resilient. Both these seem to have escaped the depredations of the sheep and the ferocious breeding and tunnelling of the rabbits.
What I want to know is where does all the soil go when the rabbits dig their holes? I spent half my time outside today ferrying soil from molehills in the field to the gaping chasms in what are laughingly called my ‘flower beds’. Last year on our visit to the Bowes Museum, during our tour of the Library, next to a 1920 book called Margarine, I spotted another with the title The Archeology of Rabbit Warrens. Maybe that’s what I need now to understand the earth-moving strategies of these creatures that, after twenty years, I’ve become resigned to sharing this patch of land with.
This will be my first year without a conservatory – another rather grand name for what it actually was – rotten and perilous: finally it had to come down. Andy, the estate handyman, left the stone walls standing and built me a little wooden gate so that I’d have a rabbit-proof space to grow plants in pots and maybe sit and write when the weather warms up. The sort of gardening I like involves a lot of sitting down between tasks!