With only three more sleeps to go we are in a more well prepared state than usual for our long drive to our house in France.
We have a very early start on Sunday, so early that it hardly seems worth going to bed on Saturday night. Still, some rest will help to steel us for the road, even if we don't actually get any sleep. We have to be at the tunnel in Folkestone by 9.20am to get our train. That means leaving home at silly o'clock because, even though it's a Sunday, we still have to leave extra time for hold ups on the motorways - crashes or long diversions for road works. In the past we have missed the train for both of those reasons. With a bit of luck and a smooth journey we will arrive at the tunnel early and get on an earlier train.
The photo above was taken in early spring three years ago and the lime tree is much bigger now. It desperately needs trimming - pollarding. There has been no sign of the new gardener. We had asked him to do the tree plus a final cut of the grass and hedges last autumn. We have periodically reminded him that the work needs doing and he has replied to say that the weather has been unsuitable. Hmmmmm........ We were beginning to think that maybe he doesn't really want the job and that if it hasn't been done by the time we arrive we should look for someone else. Then, out of the blue, he has arranged to come and discuss our requirements when we get back. So we're meeting up with him the day after we arrive.
For the future we think that as long as we can get to France in early March each year, and do a late autumn visit to put the garden to bed, we can probably manage the garden without any help. The tree is of course a different matter but at least it's only once every five years or so.
Our friend Susan told us that the fungus growing rather attractively on the tree is honey fungus which is bad news and will kill the tree eventually. Sure enough I heard a Gardener's Question Time programme recently where this was one of the topics of discussion and it really is destructive to many plants in any garden. Susan's advice was to plant another tree and get it going in readiness for the demise of the existing one and we think we know where we would put it. The lime tree gives essential shade to the house during the hottest part of the year when it is in full leaf so we can't contemplate not having one at all, aside from the fact that it's such a beautiful thing. So one of our first jobs will be to look into the planting of a new lime tree.