The gardens at Pear Tree Cottage sit in a cider apple orchard in the green and rolling countryside of Worcestershire, England. It enjoys a sunny south westerly aspect with sweeping views across to Martley Hillside, Woodbury & Abberley clock tower. The Teme Valley lies just over the hill and, not far away, is the Herefordshire border. Although our climate is temperate, our seasons are often uncertain and always a challenge to a gardener!

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23 January 2011

Chickens versus David Austin!

Everything is NOT coming up roses thanks to chickens!

Having sneaked off to David Austin's nursery (more later) on my own whilst my husband and - very understanding house guests visited the air museum at Cosford the other weekend, Chris and I decided to replace a dead Acacia at the front of the house - killed by the recent heavy frosts with my recent acquisitions.  Our 1st priority as always is ensuring the chickens are in the Hennery before.....
.....any gardening as they behave like locusts at our feet.

It was cold work but a dead tree is never much to look at - especially on a dull winter's day! It was tricky work trying to avoid Crocus and Muscari bulbs but things did look much better when we'd finished.  I was glad we'd done it as the poor Acacia was well and truly deceased.  Chris then went off to help Al with his bunker - a dug out constructed to house the pond filter and keep it frost free.  I went off to the (warmer) greenhouse and potted up 36 pink cuttings.

This morning, there was a certain sense of outrage to find that the girls had practically dug out one of the precious roses. Bulbs and piles of soil littered the top lawn.   Could I have predicted the effects of four resident chickens in our 3/4 acre garden?  We certainly gave it much thought before taking the plunge.  Having grown up on a farm with both deep litter and free range poultry I wasn't entirely ignorant.  I remember the pigs breaking into the garden and eating the Magnolias but a mere 4 chickens in this garden?  No experience at all.  When plants are established, little harm is done.  As bulbs are just poking through, I notice the poor snowdrops are being disturbed - hmmm! What to do?

Anyway - back to David Austin (who incidentally looks a little like Michael Heseltine in his photos).  I have been DYING to visit his nursery and gardens forever!  Choosing a freezing cold January day with a biting east wind was not optimal.  Not a single flower to be seen, no camera with me and not a soul around, I  wouldn't have missed it for the world. With only peacocks and sunshine for company, I wandered looking and reading every label on every plant trying to imagine how different it would all look on a June morning!.   It was totally worthwhile and most enjoyable. I did spend some time in the warmth of the shop with the very nice ladies and I certainly intend to return when the roses are  in bloom.  Let's hope mine remain in the ground long enough to produce the odd flower!




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