At lunchtime today there was the sound of a chainsaw below the garden, just beyond our boundary.
Somehow the trees and bushes formed a peephole so I was able to see right down to the source of the noise.
A man was studying a big oak tree from which he’d evidently just cut some large branches.
He bent down and the chainsaw buzzed again.
Then suddenly, with a noise like a tooth being pulled out, the whole tree fell and disappeared into the undergrowth.
Oaks are protected in Italy once their girth is greater than 40 cm (or something like that) and special permission is required to remove a mature specimen.
I’m sure the man had permission, and a good reason for doing what he was doing, but there’s something in me that hates to see a tree cut down.
I found the first pale yellow primrose buds under the big oak by the house today.
They’re not the only yellow, though. There have been golden yellow crocuses for some time.
But the flowerbed is dotted all over with yet another yellow: berries which have fallen from the yellow mistletoe growing in great clumps on the branches of the oak.
The weather couldn’t decide what to do today.
It rained, drizzled, hailed, thundered and blew a gale all in the space of a couple of hours, as well as the sun shining brightly for a few minutes.
This afternoon, snow fell in huge flakes and I thought we were about to be blanketed in it for sure and unable to go and pay the electricity bill, when it just stopped.
In the brief interlude of sunshine, I rushed outside and managed to prune one tree, a rather unproductive greengage.
One tree out of the 43 in the orchard is hardly zipping along, but I like to weigh up carefully which branch or twig I lop off.
Clive frequently tells me I’ve developed indecision to a fine art.
This branch of the almond tree supported several twigs bearing great fat fruit (or should I say nut) buds.
But it looked like it had canker so I cut it off a little way below the scar.
It’s a no-brainer, really, losing a few dozen almonds in order to protect the whole tree from an insidious disease.
And yet it makes me feel sad and wasteful, as if I’d squandered the effort and energy of the tree because of a hunch.
February is the month for pruning.
However there’s still snow on the ground, and given that I don’t wear gloves for the activity (I’m clumsy enough without them) my hands would soon be frozen if I started now.
But I’ll have to start soon if I’m not to be cutting off armfuls of blossom.
The first photo shows our nectarine tree as it is now. The little lumps on the twigs are tiny, wizened fruits that weren’t worth picking.
The tree is capable of producing extremely sweet and juicy fruit with an attractive smooth red skin, but it isn’t achieving its full potential.
I’ve evened up its branches in the past because it has a tendency to grow lopsided, but I’ve never really pruned it.
Today I eyed it up and recognised two branches growing into the middle which could be cut and give the tree more of the ‘wineglass’ shape which all fruit trees seem to be pruned to in Italy.
I hope I’ll have the courage.
There’ll be that much less of this wonderful blossom.
Time was when our holly tree – the most expensive tree I’ve ever bought, being already trained and shaped – bore one solitary berry.
This year it bears quite a few – low down on one side.
I wouldn’t dream of spoiling the symmetry of the tree by cutting any branches for the house.
Christmas will have to happen partly in the garden.
It will soon be time for the olive harvest.
Olive trees produce a good crop generally every other year, like some fruit trees. This is the year the crop should be good and there were a lot of flowers on the trees, but unfortunately the rain hit exactly wrong and the flowers weren’t fertilised.
There are a few olives here and there, on some branches and some sides of the trees, although whether there’ll be enough for our neighbour even to bother I’m not sure. The only thing he’s done in the grove all year is mow the grass once, so he won’t have lost out much.
I’m amazed at his knowledge about the trees. There are different varieties, all with their different characteristics, and he identifies them from a distance and rattles off their names so fast that I can’t remember them.