Friday, January 09, 2015

Thinning and pruning

We don't have a massive piece of land, about 1500 sq m in total but what we have is certainly enough to keep us busy throughout the year and especially in winter. When we bought La Pasera we asked the builder to leave in situ, the existing orchard trees and any trees and shrubs that were on our borders. One of the first tasks we accomplished was bringing plants from our garden in Yorkshire to Asturias, some of which were successful and others not. After creating various planting beds, rockeries and borders, adding our UK stock and planting more plants, trees and bushes over the years, we have learnt a valuable lesson: living in a temperate climate makes things grow, spread and multiply with such vigour. This week we have been cutting back, pruning, thinning and disposing of many plants and shrubs that had become just too big or cumbersome for their allocated space.

The two dying apple trees - leafless

Sadly, two of the old apple trees have also come to the end of their life after hardly any leaf and no fruit last year. The woodpeckers have been visiting daily and stripping the bark and feasting on the grubs that have taken up residence in these dying trees. Fungus has claimed their bases and it will be sad but necessary to chop them down and replace them with young apple trees that will provide us with lots of fruit.

I have been trying to prune lots of our bushes that over the time have been cut back and have subsequently grown in not-so-pleasing shapes. It'll take a couple of seasons but with time they will grow into better shaped and more pleasing to the eye specimens. We need to tackle the north border of our land that has hazel, blackthorn, hawthorn and pyracanthus, all of which grow with great gusto and apart from the useful coppiced hazel, are difficult to handle and dispose of due to very sharp thorns. We will probably burn this in the garden as it is almost impossible to process into useful firewood. In Spain, it is recommended that you apply for a license to burn even the smallest amount of garden rubbish. If you burn without one, if your fire spreads you can be held liable for costs and fines so a (free) license is advisable... I'm really not sure as to why a free license and registering protects you but if nothing else it raises the issue of the dangers of fires in rural and wooded areas. You can only use the license between October and May which makes sense due to the cooler and wetter weather.

We will process the wood for kindling and firewood which will take up to a year to dry sufficiently. The plants, weeds and leafy off-cuts will be composted and provided us with much needed nutrients to add back into the beds in a few months time. Working in the garden is therapeutic on many levels and helps us fine-tune our ideas. It is now nine years since we bought La Pasera and looking back at old photographs certainly reminds us of how much has been achieved over the years.



  1. Tremendous changes Ian. Before and after photos are something I deeply wish I'd taken more care of as we develop our own project.

  2. Thanks Andrea - every so often it is good to stand back and take note of what you have achieved. Even the smallest steps can make such a difference and as you know it continues to develop. Your photo diary idea will help.

  3. In both Catalonia and Galicia the burning licence was obligatory, if you burnt without one the smoke would always be reported you were then liable for the cost of the Bombadieros and any other cost associated with a false call out. In both places the licence is given by the fire service with a date and time that you may burn. They will also call to you if conditions turn unfavourable on your appointed day, in our case they gave us an alternative day to burn. We have seen two forest fires at close quarters, very very scary, on the last occasion the helicopters used our bassa to fill their water balloons, we got some great photos that day, I think they are on my old blog somewhere near the end.

  4. That makes more sense Anne as there are no checks here - just a paper exercise from our experience.


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