In the morning we toured the grounds and Hector picked a gift of vegetables for me. In the polytunnels were a range of salad leaves and greens which Hector enthused over as he picked. Then through the woodland patch for wild garlic before it all flowered and went past it’s best. In the large Victorian style red brick walled garden were rows of vegetables and a greenhouse. The permaculture garden had a “Welcome to Permaculture” sign and was filled with different fruit and nut trees and multiple layers of food. So many colours of flowers, different shades of blues, different shapes of plants. Everywhere was busy, yet it all looked so…beautiful. It was the most beautifully arranged permaculture garden I’d ever seen.
“It’s a jungle of beauty.” said Hector emphatically. “Those are plum trees, those at the end down there. There are four layers of food. The ground cover layer, your sort of perennial salads, through that you can plant your root vegetables. For example your onions next to your carrots (which keeps the carrot root fly away). Above that you have your shrubs like gooseberry, blackberry, raspberry bushes. Then your trees above that. Sea buckthorn, hazelnut trees and everything. It doesn’t matter if you don’t pick everything, it just goes back into the ground as humus.
“This has been here for nearly twenty years.” he said relaxing and smiling, affection coming into his voice. “As you can see, it’s just… a jungle of food. The Sea Buckthorn has got more natural anti-oxidants in it than anything else in nature.”
On the way back. Hector took me to see his cattle. Large long red hair and big horns (they were all bullocks). They had floppy fringes over their eyes that reminded me of the hairstyles boys had when I was a teenager. From the pasture field we could see the estuary.
“They have the highest rate of injuries to farmers, this breed…” he said cheerfully. After a couple of minutes Hector suggested that we move them to the other field as it would save him having to come out later with others.
“Err..” I said.
“It’ll be fine, you just stand there by that fence then follow them slowly behind and I’ll lead them.” He opened the gate, then, hands in pockets, he started calling them by name and they stamped over.
“Come on then. Come on, come on, come on!” he kept encouraging them.
I hurried up the slope after them and closed the gate. When I turned, they were already out of sight. The grass garden slope alongside the lane had several large chunks out of it, in large hoof-slide marks…