Heavy-duty gardening. Non-gardeners (Paolo, for instance, who looked surprised, the other week, when I moaned about the current gardening workload, and asked what on earth there could be to do in a garden at this time of year) seem to think that outside summer months the garden is just left dormant, effectively in mothballs until the first green shoots of spring. Gardeners, on the other hand, know all too well that it's at this time of year that all the heavy-duty stuff needs to get done: planting, and transplanting, and pruning, and building, and any structural changes that have suggested themselves as a possible good idea in the course of the warm months of the year. And so it has been. Bulb-planting: alliums, and narcissi, and tulips....about five hundred of the things, in total. Extending the flowerbeds, under the citrus trees, in order to divide and re-plant what turned out to be around sixty agapanthus, and along the west side of the new pergola, equally to plant newly-divided hemerocallis, dieries bicolore, and ornithogalums, and to make a new bed for a disparate bunch of hitherto slightly 'beached' roses from elsewhere around the garden. New hydrangeas (various quercifolias, paniculatas, and a macrophylla variegata), to go behind the church, and to line some of the paths under the pine trees. Groundcover planting (mazus reptans, veronica spicata, and isotoma fluviatilis...about fifty of each) to fill in the area by the entrance walkway, around the camellias and beneath the white lilacs. And, the new pergola...
Finally, the new pergola is being erected around three sides of the north lawn....and, in theory, also to extend along the east and south sides of the south lawn...although I'm currently so happy that any of it is happening, that it feels like asking for too much actually to get the whole thing completed in one go!
Giancarlo and his sidekick (who's name I don't actually know) fall through the gate each weekday morning at around 10.00, and then spend the day bumbling around, trampling things underfoot, and breaking things (ladders, generally), and using angle grinders and welding kit (which make a lot of noise and sparks, and presumably serve some useful purpose) and slowly, section by section, the pergola takes shape around the garden. The TD regards them with a sceptical air, thinking that it's best to leave them to get on with it undisturbed, but opines that it's like being invaded by a combination of the keystone cops and those two opinionated old buffers from The Muppets.
Of course, like all such things, it's a matter of pulling on a thread. Now that we can start to see what the garden will look like with its pergola-cloister, I'm starting to think of replacing all of the outer part of the north lawn, between the fruit trees and the borders, with summer-flowering groundcover...a rough calculation suggests that around a thousand plants should suffice. But that's a job for next autumn...the dance-card is already full for this year!
Terrine of Quail and Apricot.
Fried Pork Chops, stuffed with cheese and prosciutto; sauté of onions and courgettes