Once upon a time, our garden was very beautiful. My friend Yves created it after the hurricane hit Les Tertres in 1999.
It took years and years to grow but this garden was breathtaking from season to season.
Two years ago, Brittany experienced long periods of drought. Even though the plants had been chosen for their sturdiness since we refuse to use fertilizer and watering, some of them were aging and quite a few even started disappearing.
Our garden was a sore sight this summer... Yves and I, we had several long talks this autumn. It takes time to plan restoring such a garden to its former beauty. This time, I had decided to really take part into the planning instead of telling Yves that he had carte blanche.
When we got back to Les Tertres, two weeks ago, his team had already worked on the clumps and they were supposed to start putting new plants in this week. (I plan but I do not plant -- yet!)
The garden looked so sad and forlorn. It did. I called Yves last Monday and he came over for one last talk. It was getting late and we walked around while planning the finishing touches... He could feel I was a little bit upset because I just couldn’t imagine putting in new plants in this barren mess.
He told me to go home because he needed to think about our plans while walking around once more on his own.
The following morning, one of his gardeners delivered this cute little thing and then I went up the wall. I called Yves at noon. “What IS this? What are you going to do to my garden?”
He is a very calm man. “I thought about it last night. I am sure we have to turn over the ground before we start putting new plants in. The soil is very impoverished mostly because of the roots of the trees all around. We have to destroy part of the roots and once the soil has been turned over, we’ll start bringing in new plants. This machine will uproot the plants we want to keep. Don’t worry.”
Of course, I was worried. Mainly because Popeye was coming home on Friday and I had been bragging about getting many new plants but not about plowing his beloved garden.
Régis who has been in charge of the garden ever since Yves started working on it (and he was quite young at the time) was extremely reluctant to do what he had been asked to do... But he did it... He was grumbling a lot though!
We took a long walk on Sunday afternoon and we went all the way down to the place where young pine trees have decided to grow on their own. Amazing, I know!
Not very far behind them and quite close to the Wollemi, we discovered two huge black garbage cans and a dozen of big bags of soil-based compost plus four very small rosebushes still in their container. We were very surprised because this is not the way Yves works but you never know. People change.
Then I forgot completely about the bags because a very bad snowstorm hit our area. And I was very worried. I really was snowed in for a while.
On Monday though, since Régis could not keep on ploughing the garden, he started clearing the undergrowth through our trees with other gardeners.
Tuesday was terribly snowy again and very cold. They all stayed home, I imagine.
Today was fine. Sunny from time to time but too wet to keep on working in the garden. They went back to clearing the "undergrowth" in the "woods".
Yves came by and left. I forgot to ask him about the compost.
At 6, Régis rung at the door. “I have a question for you, Madame Olive. Did you buy compost? And did you hide the bags in the woods? Like yesterday while it was snowing hard or during the night maybe? 500 lbs in all?”
He was trying to sound like he was joking but I could see that he really was worried.
He knew the answers of course. And I understood right then that the bags were not Yves’ either.
“I had seen them hidden below the ilexes when I came over on Monday. I forgot to tell you. I told Yves but then it snowed and we forgot to let you know. And we found them this afternoon hidden in the woods. In the part that we had not cleared yet. The guy was desperate enough not to realize that we’d keep on cleaning the undergrowth.”
I was speechless. I live there all by myself and someone walks into my garden (even if there are no fences there). He stores his bags of compost a few meters away from my Wollemi and then he realizes that someone is working in the garden and he feels like he has to move them away. Not to move them. He has to hide them better.
This was kind of creepy. It really was. It still is, by the way. I really do not like the idea of someone lurking about even if it is not very close to the house.
I called Popeye in Brussels. He wanted me to call the “Gendarmerie” (our police force). Yes. Sure. “There are twelve bags of compost and two trash cans hidden in my woods. And before then, they were in my garden, hidden below ilexes. And yes, I want to press charges. By the way, they left the rosebushes lying in the grass.” The gendarmes didn’t even want to come over when there was a burglar in our house... (This is another long story.)
By then it was getting very dark. I closed the shutters on the ground floor and turned on the lights on the first floor. And I called Yves.
He was pretty upset. Call the police? No. They wouldn’t do a thing. (They do give you parking and speeding tickets though.)
He had talked about it with Régis and they had kind of decided to take the bags away to teach the guy a lesson. (Compost is expensive and there are 12 bags.)
Who is this guy? What was he doing with his bags and garbage cans in my garden?
Well, Yves was pretty sure what this guy was bent on doing. Putting a few seedlings of cannabis in my flower beds while I was away... (He probably was very surprised when he found out that someone was here to stay a couple of weeks and that this someone was getting her flower beds plowed.)
Who would have noticed a few strange seedlings as soon as the plants and flowers would have started to grow again in the spring?
The guy obviously did not know that Yves and I were planning a complete shock treatment for the garden. But he did know that besides some trimming and cleaning up in the fall and at the end of the winter, the garden was to grow naturally.
This type of garden is called a “jardin en mouvement”. “A garden on the move” maybe. This will need a whole post because it is a very interesting way of gardening. Very natural and organic.
Yves was adamant that we had to get rid of the compost. From my property that is. (And then he’d use it in the flower beds after all!)
Then I had an idea. Brilliant but scary. And I finally convinced Yves. I want him to leave the bags in the woods. But they have to be moved at the edge.
The guy has to understand that we have found his bags but since we realized that they probably cost him a fortune (about 250 dollars), we give him a chance to grab them and get lost.
“Olive, you are totally crazy but this is fair. The guy is likely to be quite young and willing to grow a few patches of cannabis for himself. He’s probably not a bad guy. Not a dangerous one, that is.”
“Except that if we “steal” his bags, he may overreact. Like felling our Wollemi or puncturing our tyres. So we have no other choice than getting him to understand that he has to go elsewhere.”
“Do you realize that he’s bound to be around until he makes up his mind and moves his bags away from your place?”
Yes, I know. But he’s been around without me even noticing him at all. Like last night. And probably during the week when Régis was working.
When I called Popeye to let him know what we had decided to do, he chuckled. “Why don’t you write him a note that you’ll pin on one of the bags? “Dear sir, we-do-not-want-you-to-grow-cannabis-in-our-garden-EVER. Thank you.”
So this is it. I am alone. It’s getting very late. It is dark outside and quite windy. I am not scared though. Not yet since the bags are still where he hid them even though the undergrowth has been cleared this afternoon. As soon as Régis moves them closer to the edge, it will be a little bit difficult for me to feel free to walk around the garden the way I am used to. Because I really don’t know how he will react.
I am not really in a joking mood tonight but I have to tell you that he’s left one bag (supposedly hidden) under one ilex probably because he was exhausted after carrying so many bags some 500 meters away.
I went there and took a picture. It was getting dark. But when I got the picture on my computer, I noticed a very funny fact... The guy bought organic compost. So thoughtful of him and such an environmental awareness!
Too bad he does not understand a thing about private property.
*Good Luck, and Good Night*