Plumcherry thicket

Jungle Queen

The previous owners of the house grew some vegetables, but the did not live here fulltime and when here didn’t have much time for the garden. So the shrubs and trees had more or less been left to their own devices for several years. And created quite a jungle of impenetrable, intertwined shrubbery full of dried up dead undergrowth and brambles. For years, all the garden waste such as dead tufts of grass etc. was simply thrown against the steep slope in the hope that it would become compost. But, being piled vertically, that didn’t work, because all the water that gets to it immediately runs away downwards. The result is a three by two meters deep, bone-dry and mouldy pile along the hillside. With 35+ degrees and no rain for months a potential fire hazard that worried me quite a bit.

Fortunately, we found a gardener who wasn’t yet on holiday and spent two days at the beginning of August clearing out the worst of the undergrowth and brambles. That gave us a nice pile of woodchippings for the garden paths. I also used some of it to start a proper horizontal compost heap and to cover the naked earth in the vegetable garden.

Later in the month we spent two mornings pulling kilometers worth of dried-up bramble vines out of the crown of an old tamarix tree and shredding them.

I also spent days working my way through the hedges and shrubs from one side of the garden to the other with lopper and saw. Some had been planted way too close, some seemed impulse buys, planted without any concept of space or the local climate. Some were the viciously spiny descendants of former fruit trees gone feral, and some were treatening to take over the neigbors terrace. I cut some of down to the stump, and, where possible, dug up what had died; what didn’t fit; what had gone completely out of control and what was simply in the way.

I also managed to cut a water hose buried in the earth with an inadvertent spade chop. Brief panic until the water was turned off and the repair man was called – who came the same afternoon and mended the hose quickly and competently.

Next week a large delivery of plants will arrive, so I’ll have to make room for them in the beds.

Next steps: Have the groundwater pump repaired so that we can get free water again (a gekko climbed in and got fried along with the motor). Cut back the completely overgrown fruit trees and get the gardener to dig up the rest of the superfluous shrubs. Prune the other fruit trees, olive trees, and figs in winter.




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