The garden starts to fill with flowers - here's a few that made it into the house.
Deputy Alistair shows off what he's learnt as a father of four, as he confidently manhandles our new Tamworths into their field.
A blot in our landscape has been recently removed c/o James Herd, a local waller so famous among those in the know that people gasp audibly when you say you've got him working for you. (Despite appearances to the contrary, the Lake District National Park is not heaving with skilled and inexpensive wallers just dying to get going on your project, though there are plenty of retired bank managers and teachers who will 'have a go' at great cost to your budget and patience). In just under 3 working days he and his assistant - also a James - transformed the natural bog that lies at the heart of the garden here, with this simple and beautiful wall, all built with stone found on site and without a single tool.
Excited to find Morels on the sand dunes of Barrow, a somewhat meagre haul compared to buying them in the market in Barcelona - food shopping in Spain is a depressing experience everything is half the price that it is in England and more than twice as good, a fair bit of the seafood is from Britain to boot - but the price of razor clams is phenomenal - well compared to buying them from the fish bait shop. I am now less surprised to hear that they are diving for them on the west coast, apparently even underwater you still use salt to get them to emerge - weird huh
to Adam Sutherland
I have some more questions about that TOGE people visitted Grizedale.
Q1.Where did TOGE people work ? Did they work in the Lawson Park of your
Q2.How is the spread of your field ? According to your website, Lowson Park
has an area 15 acres. Do you use all area in this park?
I'm glad if you would answer my quesutions.
And thank you for your kind.
from Eimei Ishii
Toge people worked at the Lawson Park farm making 3 new Tanbos (rice paddies) and clearing forest areas
They also collected mountain shoots and ran a cooking workshop for local chefs. The best resturants in the area attended including the famous Sharrow Bay Hotel and Michelin 2 star l'Enclume
On the last day of thier work programme they made a resturant for the village of Coniston in the famous Ruskin Institute. Many local people came (90) and the special food of Toge was very much enjoyed by all. Many people tried Warabi (Braken) for the first time and some started to consider it as a possible crop. The donations (250 pounds) from the visitors were given to the funds for the Coniston Water Festival www.conistonwaterfestival.org.uk a village festival on the lake
Lawson Park farm has 2 areas of land one is 15 acres of land that has not been farmed for 50 years. This is the area the village mainly worked on we are bring the whole area back into use. The other area of 5 acres is all gardens and the village built a bridge now called the 'Toge Bridge'. Later in the year we are hoping to bring a builder from Matsudai to make a new resturant in the gardens where we will make seasonal food including the mountain vegetables introduced by the villagers of Toge. We hope we will have further relationship with the people of Toge as all these projects develop.
All the best
Here are a few pictures of how we're shaping up this year.
The first is a general overview of the main ornamental borders nearest the house. We recently overhauled these as the herbaceous planting was overgrown and also in recent years the boggy back border had dried out as I improved the soil, so plants like gunneras were actually getting a but limp in summer.
So this year its a little more slimline, with a wider path thanks to George, and some new plants like eremurus (an experiment in this windy wet place...) but generally a reduced pallette, as this is what i'm trying to do throughout to give the garden more coherence. The back hedgerow is now lush and dense after just 5 years, and gives us much needed shelter from the regular mountain-bikers on the track.
The second is really just showing off - I'm finding the new raised bed kitchen garden utterly compelling. Its like being a child again, looking after these squares of geometric little vegetable rows. These broadbeans were sown in the tunnel mid-Feb. and doing really well outside now.
The third image is the woodland garden, so-called despite there being no mature trees yet. We started to mow round existing hummocks of native grasses and heather and what's evolving is a really unusual space. Again I'm trying to reduce the plant palette, use repeated groups and keep it generally colour-free.
Day 2 was wet but bearable and the work pace furious again – with this troop we could scalp the site in a week. I have now noticed that using equipment is the principle joy. There is an antipathy for the spade, I didn’t see one of the village pick one up for a moment, or a hand saw.
Principle achievements were felling timber and clearing fallen trees. The afternoon we managed to ‘plant’ mushrooms (in logs) and build a new and rather substantial bridge. There was little time wasted on aesthetics, just practical decisions about longevity and usability.
Toge men folk arrived for battle/work on Monday morning at 8am having twiddled their fingers for 2 hours waiting for us all to get ready, and then they were off, no stopping them chainsaws whirling. I started off with a chainsaw but was quickly overridden and my saw handed to a man more able, 72 but more able for sure I’ve never seen my saw work so well, the vorpal blade. The only difficult thing was getting them to stop, a moment of turned back and another tree crashed to the ground, they certainly do enjoy confirming the sound of a tree falling. The day was foul, driving rain which does tend to slow you down a bit, by lunch time everyone was soaked – Yasura-san explained that now he felt alive again. For lunch they all changed into my clothes, a bizarre sight the checked and tartan land army. As the weather worsened I called the afternoon session of and the village slept.
I whisk the Toge women off to the Lilliput Lane factory at Penrith after they express a desire to develop our prototype model of a Toge house. It was made by a LL sculptor, but the company remains rather disinterested in the project. The women would like to cast the commissioned mould and paint the models themselves, a kind of bootleg Lilliput Lane production, so the chance of an informative tour of the factory offers some useful insights for them.
The company allow me to film the visit and tour, and don’t flinch at the copious notes Mitsuko-san takes at every stage.
It’s great to spend time with the village, and artist Junko-san (who we met in Toge) again. Junko doesn’t do small-talk. In the car she leans over to me and says “Are Beatrix Potter and Harry Potter related?”
I say, tentatively, “Conceptually….yes. But actually, no.”