For a start there are the pebbles. The Pebblebed Heaths sound romantic and I got quite carried away at http://budleighbrewsterunited.blogspot.com/2010/03/spellbound-in-budleigh-and-brewster.html dreaming of ancient fire-worshipping rituals being carried out by our Bronze Age ancestors just a mile or so inland from the coast. But that triassic riverbed which apparently stretched from Brittany to Birmingham thousands of years ago means that when I stick my fork in the ground nine times out of ten it hits a pebble (more like a boulder) which often turns out to be the size of a small football like the one in the picture above. So in an attempt to prepare a vegetable patch complete with soft and yielding dark tilth to grow happy carrots and lettuces I've been spending a lot of time sieving soil and creating not just pebble towers but small hills and pathways in hidden corners of the garden.
Then there's the moss, which apparently is the inevitable consequence of acidic soil and shade in Devon's damp climate. I try hard to emulate my US friend Mossin Annie in her theory that moss is best http://www.mountainmoss.com/ , but every so often I think that quintessentially English greensward look with stripes and no weed in sight. Needless to say, that can only be achieved by regular dosing with chemicals which will turn out to give us all horrible tumours and grandchildren with missing fingers.
I won't dwell on the deer, rabbits, predatory birds, moles, slugs and snails and other woodlanders who are no friends to gardeners. Not so long ago I found a squirrel at the bottom of my wardrobe.
Yet in spite of all these little setbacks and the pints of sweat that I've lost pushing wheelbarrow loads of pebbles around the garden in this rustic corner of Budleigh Salterton, it's spectacular treasures like these crowds of acidic-soil loving azaleas that make a true vision of Paradise at this time of the year. And the wonderful blossom on the fruit trees a month ago could mean that the apples are going to be especially delicious.