Now that the weather was beginning to improve I made plans to work in the garden soon after breakfast. It was Tuesday (19 Mar) and my first task was to remove the temporary covering I had placed over the concrete I had laid the previous morning. It was as I expected set in place but as they say still green. Concrete takes a few days to ‘cure’ if you like and in fact, so I believe, isn’t totally set until 25 years later! I am not sure where I heard that but it probably is true. Anyway I avoided walking over it for the rest of the day just as I had with the previous layers.
The area covered was that on the left next to the buttress. The buttress by the way will hopefully be rendered on the sides sometime soon. I had begun to render the front face last year as that part was in a very poor condition but other things happening afterward prevented my finishing the work. The whole of the lighter coloured area of the ramp is that which will be finished with a rendering of a smoother mix of concrete to blend in with the pathway and the part nearest the door. It appears that at the time of writing the weather forecast for the following week looks very promising so it will probably get done then. Now the next job was to empty the bags of soil that you can see in the first two pictures and put it into the front garden flowerbeds.
Then I moved the bags of sand (in the third picture) into the garage.
The furthest two bags you can see in the bottom picture had soil in the first and the grass sods in the second. They contained the material which I had dug out of the lawn when constructing the feature there. As of today as I write the furthest bag containing the grass sods will be systematically separated later and the soil recycled and put in the flowerbeds. The work took me up to lunch and after lunch I sat out on the patio in the sunshine for an hour for which I think I was entitled. It went cloudy soon afterward and I took the opportunity to do some pruning and weeding before calling it a day.
I am referring to gardening and the beginning of a new season. Although as I write this at the end of February there is still another three and a half weeks to go before the official start of Spring it certainly feels like it has arrived already! This afternoon for instance I spent a couple of hours out on the patio sunbathing! According to the forecast at the moment (4 o’clock) it is 17 deg C. That is most unusual but very welcome. It had been a pleasant day yesterday too and I did spend time in the warm sunshine though it wasn’t as warm as today being 14 deg C. As there was little wind it felt that much warmer. I haven’t been sitting around doing nothing all day for this morning I have been quite busy. I was looking out of the window after breakfast and remembered that I had intended to feed the birds so that was my first job. The bird feeder was empty and the bird table was also empty so both were filled again. Then I noticed the bird bath was dry so that got filled with water too. We haven’t had much rain lately which normally keeps it filled. My next task was to empty out that bag of sand I mentioned in yesterday’s post though when I started to do it I found it was filled with soil. I had forgotten that was where I put some of the soil I had removed from the lawn when constructing the feature late last year. The sand had been put into smaller bags and placed inside the garage to free the bag for filling with soil.
I removed the soil and put it into individual smaller bags for use later elsewhere.
There is still another large bag filled with soil and grass sods which I had at that time placed under cover behind the second garage. That has yet to be sorted but it will take a couple of hours to do. I left it for another day, preferably when it would be cool though it is located in a place which never gets direct sunlight. Having done that work I began removing dead stalks from many of the flowers and shrubs in the borders and generally tidied up where necessary. The lawn needs cutting but as you now know from yesterday’s post I am without a mower at the moment. That isn’t strictly true for there are two old electric mowers in the garage but I doubt they would be able to tackle the longer grass and would take ages to do if they could.
It was Friday and a day to take an early morning walk. It wasn’t particularly warm at seven o’clock when I stepped out and throughout the walk there was a chilly wind from the south east. At first the sun was shining but soon it was covered with clouds and it felt cold. Although the walk itself was enjoyable the wind made it a little uncomfortable. Back home and it was time for breakfast. As the morning progressed it became sunnier by the hour and by lunch time it was quite a warm day. The wind persisted though not as strong and not as cool as it had been. I mentioned in yesterday’s post that I might do some work in the garden over the weekend and perhaps today too but I decided against it and sat on the patio after lunch sunbathing again! Sunbathing in the UK in February? Well it has been quite unusual weather for the month. One of the things I had intended to do in the garden was to remove more bluebells. Two years ago at this time I had been digging them out by the hundreds as well as montbretia plants too but the main reason for that was to enable me to repopulate the main once almost barren flowerbed that had begun to look untidy. There were some trees that needed to be removed and others requiring straightening and pruning but I wanted to organise the bed and put in more plants. All I saw before me was an overgrown flowerbed filled with bluebells, montbretia, weeds and grass. There had been a similar problem on The Mound though not as bad. I made it my business to clean it all up and remove the unwanted plants and weeds. Bluebells though are very difficult to eradicate for their minute seeds can lay dormant in the soil and pop up later. That has been the case for the past two years.
Now that the flowerbed has established plants and shrubs in it the bluebells are less of a problem and can be kept to a respectable minimum. So I have decided to stop trying to eradicate them but to allow them to grow and keep them under control. I do like bluebells despite all my past efforts to remove them but they do need controlling. However I will remove any montbretia that I find growing in the rear garden for they really do look untidy and especially after the growing season when all the leaves die and lay there still attached to the bulbs. We do have montbretia in the front garden but they are in places where they are not a problem.
As the picture shows the montbretia though looking very nice can and do take over any spare ground and grow quite tall. Unless other plants in the same bed are taller they will be hidden. Having made the decision not to be too enthusiastic in removing the bluebells but only the montbretia (which are far easier to remove) I can concentrate on other things.
Do you find that you sometimes feel something is nagging at you to the point where you have to act upon it? It might be a chore that needs doing, an errand to run, a promised job you said you would do or any other thing. The little voice in your head keeps reminding you but you resist and try to put it out of your thoughts. Unfortunately it pops up again the next day, week or even month if you resist too long. Maybe you were thinking it would go away and all would be forgotten yet it still pops into your thoughts now and then. I am lucky if I get past a week and very lucky if I make it to the month stage. I usually end up giving in and getting the task done. The little voice would nag me to death otherwise!
So a few weeks ago I chopped down several fruit trees in the garden and promised myself that I would cut the trunks into smaller sections some time later. I kept putting it off and even suggested I might just take them to the tip instead, anything but chop them up! There was a good reason for my thinking that way because at the time I was feeling exhausted. I had made the attempt at cutting one length of trunk and found I was too tired. It put me off the thought of cutting any more and I put it in the back of my mind. Then along came nagging thoughts which persisted until I finally had to give in but they didn’t have it all their own way. On Tuesday (18 th) I was at something of a loose end and thought about having another go at cutting the trunks. Although it was hard-going I managed to spend an hour at it. However I was only able to complete part of the task before I had to rest. It wasn’t as bad as I imagined it would be so I will have another go at it in the days ahead. It will take a few sessions but I am determined now that it will not defeat me.
It is Monday 18 th Feb. The weather is in a bit of a tussle at the moment hovering between nice and warm and cold and windy. Despite that we are told to expect a warmer week. As far as I can make out the worst of the weather is behind us as we approach Spring. Well all I can say is wait and see. I am more concerned about any frost we may still get and by that I mean a hard frost lasting days. Why is that I hear you ask? Well after lunch today it became rather warm and sunny so I made the decision to remove the frost protection I had provided for the more susceptible plants we have in the garden namely the Phoenix Canariensis (palms). Last year they took a battering from the easterly winds which brought about a severe frost. We seem to have been fortunate this year and the weather has even been unduly warm. So off I went into the garden and guess what happened? The sun went in and the wind picked up and it became much cooler. No matter it was just cool and not freezing! After I had returned indoors say half an hour later the sun re-emerged the sky went blue and everywhere warmed up again. Just typical of my ‘good’ fortune. One of the bags in which the pebbles had been delivered came in very useful for storing the pieces of bubble-wrap I had used to protect the plants. They can be used again though I did purchase a large roll of bubble-wrap which would last for years.
Hopefully there will be no hard frost in the remaining weeks of Winter. This morning I had taken a longer walk than I had done for months and walked southward to Ainsdale taking the coastal road. I wasn’t that warm even though there was a south to south-westerly breeze. I walked down to the beach there, lovely at any time of year. The tide was just turning as I arrived and was beginning to recede but was still high upon the beach. I didn’t stop there too long because of the wind exposure and turned toward the dunes to make my way back home. It was the first time this year I had taken that route. There was far more shelter from the wind in the dunes though the line of trees and undergrowth on my left afforded the most protection. To my right were the main part of the dunes the other side of which lies the coastal road. By this time the sun had appeared and was warming by back from the right. I met a couple of people walking their dogs and one or two others out jogging. Finally I was back home and having an early lunch as I had skipped breakfast but feeling well and invigorated.
I mean of the blue variety. I was in the garden on Tuesday morning with the main object of putting some of the left-over pebbles into the raised bed in the area we call ‘The Plot’ at the side of the house. We sometimes refer to it as the secret garden because it hides between the garage and the laurel trees next to the patio. It is accessed through a gate I constructed almost two years ago and is therefore ‘out of the way’. It didn’t take long to spread the pebbles.
Although it doesn’t look a lot there are plenty of pebbles in there. What is left in the bag in the garage I hope will be enough to put in the long raised bed on the patio. Before that can happen I have to remove the cyclamen plants which are growing there. The other plants will be left.
Once I had finished that work I went around the garden borders digging out bluebells. Those which were remaining after the purge a couple of years ago cannot easily be removed for the bulbs are deep beneath the roots of other plants so all I can do is pull out any shoots which appear by digging down as far as I am able. At least now they are manageable but in places they are still quite numerous. I spent only an hour or so in the garden even though there were other jobs I could have done. There is no hurry, I’ve all the time in the world.
I did a swap between days at the weekend. I rested on Saturday but did a little on Sunday instead. The wind had finally eased off and I was able to get into the garden to begin the jobs I had lined-up. First though it was ‘clean sheet day’, I changed the bedclothes and put the soiled ones in the washing machine before eating breakfast. After breakfast I placed one of the duvets in the bath and hand washed it. Have you ever washed a duvet? They are very heavy when wet. Following the wash was the rinsing, all very tiring work. How then to dry it? We have a plastic linen basket in the bathroom and I used that on which to put the now folded duvet to allow the water to slowly drip from it. It took hours for that to happen but as the bath wasn’t needed it could stay there all day. Then it was time to put on my overalls and get outdoors, first of all to replace the flag now that the high winds had ceased and then into the rear garden to saw off the remaining tree stumps at ground level. Four of them stood one to two metres high and two were nearer the ground. My arms were aching somewhat after I had finished. I might decide not to saw through those stored tree trunks I mentioned in yesterdays’s post but take them to the recycling centre instead.
Sawing them is too much like hard work! By the time I had done with the work outside it was almost time for lunch but first I had to hang the washing on the line in the boiler/gym room. Whilst down there I spent some time on the cross-trainer. Time to cook lunch. It was two o’clock and I spent the rest of the day just relaxing and as it was a bright and sunny afternoon I spent some time in the garden.
That is giving the whole room, the walls and ceiling its first coat of white emulsion. Bright isn’t it? I think so. The room had been in an awful state very much as the other rooms I had refurbished during the year. By the time you are reading this at the end of January hopefully the work in the cellar will have been completed. It wasn’t the only thing I did that day for I spent a little time in the rear garden cleaning and hosing down the area in the Plot where we keep the composting bin. It had been looking a little neglected when I went to tip more compost in the bin.
Moss loves the area and leaves get trapped too. In all I spent around five hours working before I decided I’d had enough.
My neighbour, the lady who has been poorly these last six months, often asks me where it is I get my energy from. She isn’t referring to a utility provider but why it is I seem to be on the go all the time. I am not really on the go all the time but it sure feels that way sometimes. Take Wednesday (7 th Nov) for instance, I took a five-mile walk before breakfast at 5 o’clock. After breakfast I continued the work in the utility room first of all finishing the filling-in and then giving all the woodwork its first coat of white emulsion. That took me three hours. Later in the morning after a snack I went into the garden to cut back the fruit (damson/plum) trees in The Mound. If you remember earlier in the year I mentioned I was going to remove some of them and cut back the remainder. Here is how it looked during the summer….
All of them were cut and the intention was to remove the smaller ones completely but having done the pruning we might decide to remove them all before Spring. Here is The Mound photographed from a downstairs window soon after I had finished work because it had begun to rain heavily.
The trunks I placed near the small plot across the garden whilst the branches and twigs I cut into small pieces and placed them in a large industrial bag until I can dispose of them.
That work took another three hours and I had just about finished when the rain began to fall. In fact I had to spend the last ten minutes working in the rain. The roots would be dug out another day. Yes I don’t know where I get the energy from either!
During the last months of the year I have no excuses for being idle as there is much to do. The truth is though that I have been pretty much busy throughout the year! As at the time of writing this Oct 21 st (Trafalgar day here in the UK) I am engaged with the utility room project and waiting for the pebbles to finish the lawn project. In the pipeline of things to do are the removal of some of the fruit trees and the pruning back of others in The Mound and setting up the frost protection for some of the plants. I also have in mind the uprooting and replanting of a few plants and other general garden duties in both front and rear gardens. This year though I will not be sweeping up the fallen leaves in the front garden except to keep them away from the garage doors and drains. Last year the council did not empty out the two wheelie bins properly leaving them both still half-filled on the last collection day. I emptied them out onto the driveway and let nature do the rest. They disappeared after a day or two just as they would do in the wild!
No doubt if I run out of things to do I will find something, it’s in my nature. As long as I can take a break occasionally I will be happy doing whatever comes my way. It is funny to think that once upon a time I wouldn’t consider doing some of the things I do now but being retired from formal work gives me more time on my hands and it must be filled somehow. I treat my projects as hobbies rather than chores and indeed they are more as a hobby to me.