With the transition from an apartment and a tiny balcony, to a house with a huge backyard it was not only the Adventures of Green Thumbs that added additional work to our plate this year!
Our lawn space itself is daunting – and in Austria – with often heavy rainfall that encourages the grass to green up and grow, it’s a once-a-week event! Come Friday and the sweet sound of lawn mowers fills the air as everyone rushes to get their gardens back up to scratch. Because doing it before Sunday is very important – there’s no mowing on Sundays!
Austrians take a lot of pride in their gardens. They want them to look nice… all the time! I’m not sure how good ours would look if I had sole responsibility, but luckily I have an Austrian husband. He became chief Mowerman and also kept the hedges and bushes in check, happily investing into some new equipment to make the job less stressful!
But we were lucky – we had a good base. The people we bought the house from were not only keen gardeners, they possessed the anal qualities of many Austrians to create a garden that was not only functional, but also beautiful.
As the summer progressed, it seemed that each week another flower would bloom, creating an ever-changing show of colour and scent. “Surprise!” screamed the scores of tulips that popped their sweet heads above the earth. “Look at me!” shrieked the snow drops. “Aren’t we pretty?” begged the roses that sprung up with little more than a quick trim. “Pick me! Pick me!” chanted the wild strawberries strewn through the garden. Strawberries, raspberries, black and red currents – they all emerged without us doing more than brushing some pruning sheers over them in early spring.
With two apples and a pear tree I had grand designs for growing an apricot too – there’s something about home-grown apricots that shop-bought just can’t match. However, when I saw the time involved in pruning the trees on a frigid but sunny day in March, I decided to hold off planting to start with. The apple trees – one eating, one cooking – gave us a great crop – yes, too many – but we’ve packed them all up and hopefully they’ll keep us in apples through colder months. The pears must have been affected by frost because we got only one tough little guy, who I did eat, by the way.
We also have a huge walnut tree, which, due to very late snow, yielded only a few nuts. This is actually not so terrible because with the mess the tree creates in Autumn just from its falling leaves, I can only imagine that additional walnut carcasses would involve a pretty hefty clean up!
Things are winding down now, the temperature is dropping, and it’s time to cut everything one last time in preparation for the winter. But despite all the hard work, it’s worth it. I love having a house, with a huge yard to explore, and soft grass to squish beneath my feet.