As frustrated customers might have realised, I've been away in France for a couple of weeks and tried not to answer the phone. It's been a great break, idling down to Provence via Bordeaux.
I always love going to France, not least because of the abundant insect life. The contrast with the UK couldn't be more obvious. I try to think of it as a delight rather than a depressing reflection on the state of nature here.
The wildflowers too are wonderful, although recently like many trees and shrubs showing drought and heat related stress. Last year's drought is claiming new victims, and this year has shown respite. On just this trip we endured three days of temperatures over 40 degrees, which was as punishing for us as it was for the local botany.
The French seem as ill prepared and unconcerned about climate change as we are. There were notionally water restrictions in a couple of the places we stayed which even the local councils flouted, in one case with a grand sprinkler display for a grass verge at noon every day. There are bizarrely few solar panels there, and I saw no thermal solar systems at all.
Anyway, the heat we had has strengthened my resolve to further future proof our garden in Somerset. Not just that, but also to think about ways to create dense shade around the house.
I haven't been thinking enough about creating canopies to sit and walk under. It's super obvious when you eat on a restaurant terrace in the evening heat what pruned limes or mulberries can do. My Persian silk tree and Pomegranate will need planting out this autumn, so that's a good start.
I need to be more brutal in my plant selection. The climbing roses struggling up the espaliers I built to frame the formal garden are going. Despite all my best efforts they look wretched; this year heavily infested with black spot after last year's mildew. Enough is enough. So out with the roses and in with some pleached Tilia x euchlora.
I also need more and better organised veg. I'm too relaxed about my "companion planting", which Caroline and Danny have started sniggering at. There are only so many nasturtiums and calendula a veg patch can bear. I'm going to double the veg I have, and put aside a cut flower bed so my Dahlias, Alstroemerias, chrysanths and sweet peas stop overwhelming the leeks and beetroot.
Here and around the orginal beds I'll be putting down gratuitous volumes of woodchip. We've found a good local supplier of biodigestate too, so perfect.
There's a section of one of our meadow areas* which has a mighty throng of horsetail threaded through it, so I've ordered a mix of early flowering daffs to naturalise it. We'll cut it from June. And while I was about it I ordered more native bulbs too.
It's good to be enthused with some projects to cure those post holiday blues. I'm not even going to be deflated by the government's Kafka-esque amendment to nutrient neutrality regulation. So disgraceful is it that - extraodinarily but perfectly reasonably - the RSPB branded Messrs. Coffey, Sunak and Gove "liars" in a social media post. So disgraceful that even the Chair of the useless and neutered Office for Environmental Protection wrote a strong letter of complaint to those concerned.
In the past, of course, the EU would just take the UK government to court/the cleaners over something like this. Michael Gove is right; environmental vandalism is another Brexit benefit, like the hour long wait at Poole to have our blue passports examined. Sunlit uplands...
Now out into the garden.
*Now cut, as yours should be!