I sit to write the blog of the weekend’s activities on a Sunday night, feeling both exhausted and satisfied with progress over the last couple of days. As it is more of the same I’m not going to split the days up but I will attempt to show how far we have come over this and previous weekends. In addition, now lockdown allows travel within Argyll & Bute I owe thanks to friends who joined us for periods over this stay on the Island.

First I think some context is worthwhile to the challenge we face in the garden and wider grounds where we are currently concentrating effort. I’ve been using this website to navigate the island : https://satellites.pro/Isle_of_Gigha_map and I think it trumps what google has to offer. I’ve borrowed an image from there.

The walled garden that belongs to the Manse and now to us is outlined by the white lines, each of those lines is approximately 50m in real money, making it a sizeable area. We know from what we have uncovered and also from the satellite photo that it was magnificent in its day and the elders of the church took great pride in it. Over recent years, with no tenant of the Manse and the sale taking an elongated time, nature has claimed the garden for itself. The orange lines attempt to show some demarcation within the four quarters of the garden: nearest the house is the formal garden and the two orange lines that bound it are the hedge that you will see in pictures to follow. The second area bounded by orange lines is an orchard, with the other two quarters given over to a vegetable garden.

So our first point of attack has been the formal garden. When we took over the property the formal garden appeared as the photograph below:

The front and sides had structures of fence and a green mesh to bound it. The front can just be seen on the left of the picture, but the left hand side shows the fences construction more fully. The rear similarly had fence but this time using a material that I can only describe as a thick fishing net (behind many brambles).

We had tackled the front fence on our previous visit, and with good weather again, set to the task of making the formal garden more formal. On our last visit we had also uncovered a water feature in the centre but hadn’t progressed much further than that half way mark.

Armed with brush cutter I set to make some more headway for the troops joining us later. The pond in the centre is bit more obvious in this photo but no time to dispose / burn of what was cut. I left after my first night with a small amount of progress and charged for the remainder of the weekend:

The remainder of the weekend saw much more progress as Karen and I were joined by our friends Paul, John & Kathryn. So once the fire was started to it didn’t stop until we left on Sunday with no shortage of material to fuel it. John was set to work on the border, first dismantling the fence to gain access to the hedge behind it.

I continued to focus on the central area, dismantling displays leftover from the Church and some more work with the brush cutter. Karen and Kathryn set to work on the right hand side stripping away more displays and more fencing, removing black fabric and carpet that had failed in stopping the onset of brambles. Paul later joined the work party in the afternoon set on removing the remainder of the fencing and found more displays to dismantle.

Marked progress was there already by mid Saturday, but the first major landmark was achieved when John completed the pruning of the hedgerow (the one dividing the formal garden from the orchard). Work was started previously by another good friend and the amount of light coming into the garden improving the feel was now clear to see. We also knew that cutting of the hedge would give clear line of sight from the house to the orchard something we were keen to view later.

I’ve tried to show evolution of the work over the weekend but I’m now going to fast forward to where we left it all on Sunday. Not complete, but a significant difference to the first photo on the post. Given how exhausted to how all the work party were left feeling on return home today I know we put in a good shift, but with less than one quarter of the walled garden brought under control we also know that there are many more weekends like this to come.

A few short weeks back when we purchased the view from the first floor living area looked like this:

Today this:

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