Musings on writing letters and the garden at PumpjackPiddlewick

As is my personal preference, I am sat in one of my favourite places, Cafe du Canard. Writing letters. Not surprisingly, I seem to always begin my letters ‘I am sat in Cafe du Canard…’.

Today was no exception. Finally a day that dawned semi sunny and warm-ish, though still that slight chill in the air that spring brings. Spring is definitely taking its time this year. It’s interesting to compare the seasons and years. And working or even simply sitting in the garden does make me more aware.

Last year spring came early and dawned slowly, but consistently. By this time last year I had much of the garden set out, dug out, planned. I would have planted it was that nice, but better gardeners than I kept me at bay until April.

And how different a year makes. We have finished our hedge. Our big early project as it needed cutting way down. This in itself was interesting, to me at least. You could see where previous cuttings had been. Branches fork after cutting, sending out two or more shoots from the cut. We could see where the original hedge height had been by looking, and subsequent years growth.

The ground is now littered with mounds of cut branches. They will be woven amongst the trunks of the hedge to form a wattling fence. Not very high, just above duck height. A necessary when you have curious ducks who love nothing better to do than explore neighbours gardens. Honestly, cats have nothing on ducks when it comes to curiosity.

That’s the next big project, as soon as it warms up and dries out a little. But in the meantime, there are the brambles to burn. On Pumpjack’s last trip, goodness way back when, to the UK to visit his Mum he brought back a burning barrel. He was very excited but I couldn’t see the appeal, until I used it. It has turned out to be a wonderful way to manage our thorny branches.

Pruned branches get re-used in some capacity. Weaving into a fence, as mentioned. Thicker branches may be posts for lower wattling fences, as will soon be around the asparagus patch. Longer branches make good trellis posts for climbing beans. Branches too thin or small are mulched as part of our permaculture practise. Too old and dried out becomes firewood for our outdoor firepit. First though, we have to get rid of those pesky brambles we cut out of the hedge.

They are in 3 big piles about the garden. The plan therefore is to take the burning barrel and tackle a pile. One a day. It’s a fairly quick process, but requires the right conditions as the barrel burns very hot. The curious ducks have to be in their enclosure – so best to do when they are having their naps late in the morning.

It takes concentration too. Once burning it has to constantly be fed so it doesn’t go out. But, because it burns so hot, we can’t feed it too much at any time. It is more of a consistent effort. Cutting the brambles, carefully, and feeding in. It will take an hour for each pile, but once done there will be nothing left, not even ash. It burns that hot.

And here I have digressed, as I sat down to write about writing letters. How the mind does muse. I had been thinking about whether letter writing had become passée. Or in reality if it was making a resurgence as more people found themselves at home, inside.

I at least have received more letters this past year than ever before. Something I have really enjoyed. So, one could argue that yes it is making a resurgence. But we will only know as people get out and about more whether it once again falls by the way side. I am curious to see.

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