I feel as flat as a witch's tit.
The olives which took a rather extensive nibbling last year, are staging a rather dramatic protest at what they see as my abject failure in providing appropriate working conditions over the last two years. Leaves falling, branches drying out: if they're not dead already, they're dying. Or at least most of them are. How many, I'm not quite sure. I can't quite bring myself to wander round counting.
Worse, almost all the almonds have died. So many of them had shot up from 4 feet tall to 12 feet in 18 months, defying their Meditteranean deciduous CV and keeping their leaves through the first couple of winters, even in the snow.
This is one of the good ones...ie it has a couple of tiny leaves trying to cling to the trunk
Having spent days in the February of 2005 with flu digging 100 holes for 100 trees, driven by the news that I was to be a dad and soaked daydreams of her growing up running about in the almond orchard, I'm especially down about almost all of them giving up the ghost. Gone also, the marketman's dream of making my own nutty bread: (Mark's almonds tainted loaf).
Almost amusingly the apricots, noticing their exotic cousins are playing up, have started making their own plea for attention. Perhaps half of the 50 in one of the apricots orchards has inconsiderately developed blossom blight....don't click unless you're an aspiring plant disease anorak.
This unpleasant disease infects blossom, drills into the leaves, branches and eventually the trunk, cutting off the plant from the engineroom of it's leaves. It's a fairly quick death. Loppers, secateurs and the pruning saw are your main friends in dealing with an attack - you chop til you come to clean tissue. In this case a couple of dozen trees hacked from 12 feet to one or two, with little more than an even chance of springing back. Perversely, it's their success that's cost them...they opened the door to the disease by blossoming - only the best have been punished.
It's the sort of day where everything turns heavy, the air's hard to walk through and the phone in my pocket feels like a brick.
I'm not very good at being tired or flat. I force a walk around the place, anywhere but the olives. I just don't get the chance to nose around so much at this time of year as I'm too busy doing, and unsurprisingly I pick up on a few lovelinesses that have passed me by. The rosa rugosa hedge coming into flower with whites...
A few of the mulberries I'd thought hadn't been butch enough for the winter are telling me (as folklore goes) that not only are they alive, but that the cold weather is completely behind us
The apples and plums are loaded up with just-set fruit, which after the last two wet years is a real pleasure to see, but this is England, and flourishing apples and plums is hardly a revelation. There are some positive signs - the pecans are growing away happily and the persimmons are popping out their usual late glossy leaves in front of the flowering hawthorn...
....but it feels a little like the old hospital joke...
Doctor: Mr Jones, I've got some good news and some bad news....I'm afraid we've had to amputate your legs
Mr Jones: And the good news?
Doctor: We've sold your slippers
Sunday, May 24, 2009 at 9:25 AM
I feel as flat as a witch's tit.