One of the priority jobs for my “holiday” was mowing the meadow, cutting back all this year’s growth so it can be raked up and removed, helping to reduce the soil fertility to encourage the flowers and discourage the grasses. The Austrian scythe is the perfect tool for this job – quieter and no more difficult or time consuming than using a two-stoke brushcutter. This section of the garden is about 840 square meters (60 x 14; just over 1/5 of an acre) and took about 8 hours in total, over a couple of days.
Scything is more about skill than brute strength but it’s quite a (low-impact, aerobic) workout. A lot of the skill is in sharpening the blade – especially the peening to create a hard, thin edge (which I’m getting better at – though it’s tough only getting chance to properly practice once a year).
There’s a medium-sized Horse Chestnut tree in one of the hedgerows which seems to suit the conditions quite well and I’ve been growing some seedlings from the conkers – a few of which are 3 years old and a few more which are 2 years old.
I’d marked out for a line of 9 of these either side the driveway last summer and prepared the planting holes over winter then moved them from their nursery bed in February and March. They’re just now coming into leaf; with there being so little rain I’m keeping them well watered.
It took me a while to settle on the spacing and how far back from the drive to position them. The photo makes the hedge look quite close but it’s over 50 metres away and the 9 trees are 6 metres apart and 9 metres from the drive. 6 metres is too close together for a fully-grown horse chestnut so once they get big enough for that to be a problem every other one will need taking out, leaving 5 of the 9. Can’t see that happening in my lifetime though.
So far I’ve only planted the trees on the north side of the drive; on the south side there’s more work to do to prepare the planting holes. Those will have to wait until next winter.