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28th February

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I have made an impact on the huge pile of twigs and branches at the end of the garden after seven hours spent breaking them up and feeding them into the incinerator bit by bit, the pile is about half its former size. It is a very satisfying activity, watching a fire burn. I was hoping to find the grenade log splitter. It flew into the pile when Philip was cutting up the dead sycamore last week, I haven’t unearthed it yet, weighing 10 kilos it’s probably buried deep in the leaves. I only gave up burning twigs when the level of ash rose to the top of the incinerator, red hot and glowing so it wasn’t possible to empty it out.

We are learning about tree management. I thought this would be a low maintenance garden as it mainly trees, but as well as pruning we now have to worry about the spread of mistletoe, six of the trees, all the Tilias have huge bunches of it hanging from the upper branches as does the hedge below and it is very difficult to eradicate. I added some of the bits we had cut out of the hedge to the incinerator, it is an amazing parasite, its roots extend deep into the branch of the tree, depriving it of water and nutrients. We will feed and water the Tilias this summer, to compensate for the misteltoe’s consumption. It’s so exciting now in the garden. With the sudden rise in temperature we have hundreds of crocuses coming into flower and new leaves on the climbing roses by the barn. I have ordered hundreds of seeds to grow cut flowers for older son’s wedding. It’s probably an overly ambitious project, especially as I’ll need to dig a huge flower bed in the clay to plant them out.

The conservatory people arrived early, lots of excitement, we shook hands with them all, I made a joke about selling their abandoned van. They got straight to work and the bits of aluminium lying on the grass soon diminished as did the stack of glass panes left on a trailer by the back of the house. There was a minor tragedy. I heard the shatter of broken glass, but as there was lots of swearing I didn’t venture over immediately. One of the roof sections had slid down as they were trying to put it in place and broke as it hit the ground. I hadn’t realised there was also a broken glass door sitting in the back of the van. Both will take a couple of weeks to order so that will be a further delay, but by the end of the day most of the roof was in place and they all seemed quite cheerful and shook hands again when they left.

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