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A new copse

Updated: Oct 12, 2020

At the end of the garden along a border are a line of Damson Trees. Unfortunately they have been over-run by brambles. These are wrapped around the trees for metre after metre.

I have childhood memories of picking damsons with my Grandmother and cousins and making damson crumble with her sisters. They had little china desert bowl with bowl shaped rims made specially for putting stewed fruit stone along the edge. We used to do the old rhyme Soldier, Saylor, Tinker, Taylor….. As we counted them, my aim was always to have more stones than fruit.

Mum also made damson gin and damson vinegar in an old sweet jar which we kept in the pantry and turned once a week over winter until the sugar dissolved.

To try and rescue the trees we first had to beat a path to them through the brambles, cow parsley, nettles and tall grass leading to them.

My cousins and I separated into groups according our strengths and interests.

The brambles needed to be cut back and dragged off the trees they were very, very long and wrapped around the trees, each other and the undergrowth. There was a risk of some of us getting whip lashed by bramble in the face, which happened a few times.

We put black bags over roots to reduce regrowth. We cut down other trees growing around to reduce competition.

That was last autumn. Since then we have visited again in the summer. Unfortunately one of the trees is dead, another is only producing leaf along its bottom half. I need to battle my way across to it and see if the leaves are from the tree or whether more brambles have made their way back up the tree and that too is dead. I will then have to decide what to do. If it is damson leaves I will probably leave it to see what it does. I have plenty to keep me occupied and leaving it to its own devices for a year or so is not going to make so much difference to it.

I will need to take down the dead tree in time to make space for the survivors to grow.

There are several baby Damsons sprouting around the area some of which have a beautiful shape. I'm going to choose the best of these and keep them to make a mini copse and wait for the damson vinegar - lovely with pancakes or Yorkshire puddings, not too bad on avocado salad or even vanilla ice cream!!!

Its two years since Dad died, I was reflecting as I wrote this. A lot has happened in that time and life has been hard, I’m no closer to making the garden look any more under control than I was when I started this as I just can’t commit enough time and energy to it. If I lived here and did one or two full days a week I may start to see some change but as it is I’M not even really holding it at bay, however I started this to try to keep it contained and to minimise natures worst. It’s a losing battle, but I’m not defeated I love the solitude and the challenge of pottering do battle with over grown ivy in hedge bottoms, over grown creepers on rooves and self-seeded tress amongst the array of other challenges there are. I love it when my family join me, but I’m equally happy alone and nothing gives me more pleasure than seeing the seasons change and finding

When I started this I started in grief wanting to fight. I still feel grief and I still want to fight but those feelings are not so intense. I previously saw the garden as Dads and wanted to preserve it as much as it had been as possible. But I realise I will struggle to do that. Nature is out witting me at every turn so over the months I have decided not to do that I'm going to allow the garden to evolve. Some things like to new Damson trees will stay to replace the old. The sky line will change with natures intervention but slowly and in a managed way. It's time I think to embrace a little of the new to enhance the old.

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