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A good gardening year

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It’s going to be a great gardening year, don’t ask me how I know, I just know, I feel it in my bones.  Some things are just instinctive. The picture above is of a wild part of the Moosbach Garden and these Blue/Purple lupins (depending upon your viewpoint) have gone native and colonised a huge area of a hill beneath Magnolia trees.  They were originally part of a wild flower seed mix that we bought from a local garden centre but they’ve out competed the other flowers.  For us it’s not a problem, there’s no weeding, they come up in the spring, they flower, they set seed and in the autumn die  back, perfect in our opinion.  It also creates an undisturbed haven for pollinating insects and wildlife, it couldn’t have worked out better if we’d tried.

It brings to the forefront of our minds concerns about the future of the Moosbach Garden.  I’m turning 50 this year and have arthritis, my partner is a little younger (not much younger) and I think that we are both concious of the toll that gardening takes on our bodies.  Don’t misundertand me, I am a gardener and if you cut me in half  like a stick of rock it would say gardener in the middle.  I’ll only stop gardening when they cart me off in a box or to the old peoples home, Arthritis won’t stop me from gardening, I’ll take my pain killers and get on with it.

It does, however, make us think about how we manage the more challenging areas of the garden. I’ll give you an example, we have an orchard which is quite steep that the chickens call home.  There are not as many chickens as there use to be, we’ve reduced them down from 100 to 30 and that’s enough and it’s better for the land.  Too many chickens per acre can result in the soil becoming toxic to plants.  Mowing the grass in the orchard is hard work though and very physically demanding, you can’t use a lawn mower and the best you can do is to strim it.

“Livestock” I hear you say, well you can’t use sheep, goats, alpacas or small cattle as they will eat the bark off the fruit trees and they will be dead in a few years (the trees) what you need is a living lawnmower that won’t eat the leaves of the trees, the bark of the trees or the fruit.  The answer my fellow gardeners is geese! They only eat the grass and are very efficient lawnmowers, we have 39 eggs in the incubator and the estimated hatch date is Friday 18th May. Let me state categorically, that not all of the eggs will hatch and we really only need 4 or 5 to do the job. My sister will be horrified as she has an ingrained (and irrational) fear of geese. Of all of the geese breeds available we like Toulouse geese, they are very regal and calm. We’ll let you know how many hatch and I’m sure that we’ll have some goslings for sale next week.

We’ve done a lot of structural work in the garden in the last 2 years, including a new rose garden and a new scented rose walk but now our focus will be on improving the difficult and Labour intensive areas of the garden. In a way we are planning for the future and our decreasing physical abilities (we’re not there yet!). Currently mowing the grass takes 4 hours so we are planning more shrub planting on steep hilly areas and the use of geese as lawn mowers. In the interim normal gardening activities resume, in the next couple of weeks the rose garden will come into its own. I would recommend planning a visit in early June to see the peonies and roses, I would advise ringing first to check on the status of the roses (Tel: 0049 783895520) . We still have a few David Austin roses for sale but 75% have already been sold. Those that we have will be starting to flower soon and we also have salvia, lavender and phlox for sale.

Here at the Moosbach Garden we wish you a happy and enjoyable garden year.

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Andrew Huber

I am an English gardener who has been living in the Black Forest in Germany for 4 years. Slowly I am transforming 16 acres of mountain into a garden. Feel free to email me if you have any gardening questions and I'll see if I can help.

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