I opened the rickety door, which nearly fell off - the brambles stretched over the top of my head. I shut it quickly.
We knew there was a garden through the old barn at the back of the house, it was on the ground plans when we viewed the house. We peeped over the wall by the lane and were shocked at what we saw. Overgrown trees, one twisted like a snake around the 100 year old rusty gate and well established ivy all over the tumbling stone walls. One massive tree was precariously leaning towards the top of the barn roof, it was like a scene from Great Expectations!
David et Sebastien from the village (these two can do anything) offered to clear the area when we visited the UK - It took four men three days. On our return I excitedly ran across the yard and prised open the door. There was a beautiful walled garden with a small patio, but it had been terribly neglected.
Piles of Charentais stones and mounds of brambles and grass lay on the floor. There were large rectangular stones lying everywhere and I spookily thought that they were gravestones. David rolled his eyes and said non. There were a few established fruit trees and a beautiful persimmon tree with bright orange fruits hanging like Christmas baubles.
Over the next two years we cleared the debris, removed the dead trees, and carried the stones into the barn. The fence adjoining our neighbour's garden was almost to the ground. It had posts missing and a big hole in it where Jackpott escaped on a regular basis. We've just put up a new fence and covered it with Jasmine, honeysuckle and old fashioned roses like my grandmother used to have. One day it will smell like the inside of Liberty's perfume department or maybe that of Galeries Lafayette.
This year I reached breaking point with it all (my back too!) - but now for the nice bit. Daffodils and snowdrops are under the trees (well I am Welsh). A huge white Pom Pom plant (hydrangea) is in the middle of the lawn. Earthenware pots full of purple petunias are around the patio area and almond, fig, pomegranate, red cherry and nectarine trees have been painstakingly planted. This garden is going to be my Sainsbury's fruit and nut aisle!!
By the edge of the stone wall there are raspberries, gooseberries and a tubby rhubarb plant. My Dad says not to cut the rhubarb for at least a year - it's the law! So I've put it to bed with some compost for the winter and look forward to eating it next year!
The gravestones turned out to be the tops of an ancient stone wall, but we were three short!!!! Monsieur Guy (our wonderful 82 year old neighbour whose champagne order has increased with his supplier since we have moved in) had three spare in his garden - what a coincidence! He said to come and collect them, but grammar school husband and myself couldn't pick them up! Once again David et Sebastien came to the rescue with their van, a smile, a piece of rope and two pieces of wood! The stones are now patiently waiting to be put back on the wall when we rebuild it next year - Result!!!
An elderly lady in a shabby blue overall cycled past yesterday and peeped over the wall. 'Oh my' she said, 'I haven't been down this lane for a such long time and now there is a wonderful garden here again' - Praise indeed!
Must dash, I'm off to the jardiniere to get my final tree - a walnut. Grammar school husband can plant it and I can stand and watch!!!!
Next time we'll be meeting Jackpott the rescue dog.
See you then.
I'm just a Welsh girl living in France- with an uncontrollable writing habit!!!!!
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