Spending my afternoons puddling about in thick clay as I try to turn the area around my metal swing seat into a scented garden. Hacking out old hedging shrubs that have been banked up with the excavations for a greenhouse that has long since disappeared: bricks, flints and bits of rusted ironmongery, all clagged together with lumps of yellow subsoil.

It’s a strangely relaxing – and exhausting procedure for just a few hours every afternoon, as I dream of what I’ll plant (akebia, eleagnus angustifolia, sweet peas, and magenta-coloured shrub roses), and imagine myself sitting in the sun. The image is completed with an imagined flock of Orpingtons. Every time I garden, I miss sharing the excitement of the turned spade, though the job is easier without darting beaks.

I’m hoping that Kent College will lend me a broody and some of their hatching eggs. Their provenance (mums and dad seen above, and borrowed for the day) can be seen in an article I’ve written for this month’s Gardens Illustrated, in some gorgeous pics by Andrew Mongomery: Henkeeping for Serious Gardeners. Can’t wait!

Fingers Crossed

With heart in mouth, have taken six Orpington hatching eggs to a friend’s broody to sit on. The dear little Silkie cross settled on six eggs easily, pleased to be given the task that all Silkies love best.  I will be posting pics of her soon, and also tweeting with luck. And sending progress reports via Clio who is in charge. I’m hoping for just two hens, and Clio and her family will keep any extras.

In many ways, I feel irresponsible providing another meal for the fox, but we’ll improve our defences, beefing up my perimeter fences; I’ll keep a closer eye on my birds; indulge in all the advice I’ve been given: radios on, male urine, visits by friend’s dogs; and sadly probably allow my birds less freedom in the garden. The fox who killed my hens was in a bad way, injured with mange, and has probably not survived (95% of urban foxes don’t live longer than 3 years), though if so, he will have been replaced. So like many henkeepers, I shall have to constantly be on the alert.

Bought my hatching eggs at The Hen Party, which was fun, and also the eggs in the photo – outstanding Copper Maran eggs, and pale blue ones from my friend Nicola. Am at the Open Garden Fair at Faversham on Sunday 29th – hope to see you there.