It is the first day of December and I’ve not long returned indoors after working in the garden for five and a half hours. I had intended driving to the DIY store to purchase a panel of plasterboard and then continue with the work in the small cellar store room but as the weather was reasonably warm with just a hint of drizzle now and then I decided instead to work outdoors. I was feeling much better after a couple of days coping with cystitis and a mild cold. I hadn’t been for a walk since Wednesday and it was now Saturday. I would resume my morning walks on Monday and allow myself a rest from it but resting completely isn’t my style! After breakfast my first job was to sweep up the leaves in the rear garden once again and probably for the last time until next year. That little job still took some time but I was warming up for the next job which would take much more time. A few days earlier we had finally received delivery of the pebbles with which to complete the lawn feature project I had started a couple of months ago. The guy dropped the pallet inside my garage as I had asked but the job was a further ten metres or more away so they had to be transported the rest of the way using a bucket or bin on a hand truck. That took many journeys back and forth before it was completed. First though, I had to remove all the temporary netting and building paraphernalia I had placed over the membrane screen to prevent the fox and squirrels from digging holes in it! Slowly I made my way around removing that and the fallen leaves then filling in with the pebbles……
The stepping stones through the feature look almost invisible in the first two pictures but assuredly they are still there and can be seen in the picture below if you look carefully.
So that ended my work for the day and the week. Hopefully I would be able to resume with my indoor project on Monday, the first job would be to trace the source of the wet room floor leak.
Do you find yourself discovering a way to do something but later on find out there might have been a better way to do it? During my experiences in the electrical industry that was often the case for me. I have to say though after years of working in the industry the better way to do things came naturally, well for most of the time. Last winter we had some really nasty weather for a couple of weeks and some of the garden plants suffered as a result. I was therefore determined to find a better solution or an easier way of implementing the precautions I had taken at that time. The plants which suffered were those where the protection I had provided had come adrift. During the year I have been giving much consideration in regards to finding that easier solution. I had fixed some anchoring points by which to secure the protection around the two small beds on the patio but they were the easy ones to protect. One is shown below and the plant at risk from frost damage is the fan palm.
The longer of the three beds shown below is the one most difficult to protect as wrapping the two fan palms isn’t as easy at it sounds especially if the older leaves are to be protected from wind damage too.
I had purchased some bubble wrap and bamboo canes earlier this year and was going to use them to construct a makeshift frame to cover the whole bed but having given that idea much thought since then I think I have come up with a better idea, I decided to purchase a walk-in ‘tunnel’ to place over the top of the bed. Designed for use as an alternative to a greenhouse for growing certain plants under cover the tunnel would be the ideal solution and probably much sturdier. As the one I have purchased is two metres in width it will overhang the bed on the inside and make access to the bed possible if required. Of course it will need support beneath the overhang and some fixing points with which to tie it down.
As far as the bubble wrap and canes are concerned they will still be used in the bed adjacent to the patio as planned.
During the last couple of days I haven’t been idle wondering what little project I can be involved with whilst making plans for bigger things. It is Saturday 8 th September as I write and the weather is beginning to get wetter more often as Autumn arrives. Rain has a habit of preventing any constructive projects outdoors but I have nevertheless been fortunate to be able to start one small task. When we moved here thirty years ago we became aware of some issues around the property regarding security. It is a sad reflection on today’s society that we have to take steps in preventing trespass on our property and attempts of burglary. We try to make things as secure as possible both inside and outside our homes. Over the years our house has grown steadily more secure as measures have been taken to that end. I remember one day seeing a couple of youths climb over the wall of our then neighbour’s garden at the rear of our property. They made their way across the long garden toward the house but we made sure they were apprehended before they could do anything. It reminded us that garden walls can be climbed and that our rear wall was vulnerable at least at one end where the ground was high. The only solution would be to increase the height of the wall at least at that point. We didn’t take any action then as there were prickly bushes in the corner making access less likely by an intruder. However since those days our garden has changed and the prickly bushes have gone. In the meantime the undergrowth on our neighbour’s side of the wall has become denser to the point of being a deterrent to anyone without a machete! Nevertheless we decided to add a few courses of brick to the wall in that area which is at the end of the wall.
Why now? Well having noticed the activity of the local fox(es) in our garden we concluded they were getting in at the easiest access point in the same corner. It was time to lay some bricks which was the small project I spoke of. It isn’t finished at this moment due to a lack of bricks but that is in hand and will be completed as soon as I get some more. So on Friday, yesterday as I write, I had some mortar remaining and I added some grit to it to make a cement render. I spread that over the brick buttress near to the little greenhouse which needed repair. Over the past twelve months or so I have been patching the buttress with left-over cement from other work but it needs covering completely. I will do that in time but I will have to move the sand in the bag on the right in order to do that side. If you remember the sand was removed from the floor when constructing the pit in the cellar. The other large bag was emptied into smaller bags and is stored inside the garage on the right of the pictures. It is slowly getting used on these projects when I mix cement. Also on Friday I arranged delivery for the stone cobbles which I will be using to surround the feature I am constructing on the lawn. After digging out the plot they will be the first things to lay before any further work is done.
Sunday, the last day of the year turned out to be bright and sunny, The temperature hovered around 9 deg C all day though a stiff breeze made it feel colder. Still, it was nice to be outdoors when sheltered from that wind. I had deliberately arisen early so that I could drive to the beach to collect some more stones. I left the house around seven-thirty and by the time I had parked the van in the car park near to the beach it was beginning to enter the twilight zone. Twilight for me is the best part of any day and I am glad I live in a place where we have a period of twilight twice a day. Anyway, the wind felt stronger down on the sand but I persevered and collected quite a few stones while it was still quite dark. I made three short trips to and from the van to collect the stones in a plastic bag to then place them in a large bucket I had stored in the van. I should have taken a couple of more trips at that time but I was beginning to feel tired and cold. I could always return later. Before returning indoors on my arrival back home at eight-thirty I decided to make an attempt at sliding the hard neoprene strip back into the guide on the garage door. If my readers will remember it had slid out a couple of weeks ago and I informed the installer to have it repaired. At the time of writing this on the last day of the year there has been no follow-up from them. I will have to inform them it has been repaired. After doing that small job I took a parcel we had received on behalf of our neighbour across the road to give it to her who at the time it arrived wasn’t at home, then I went indoors for my breakfast. E came into the kitchen just as I had finished eating. After breakfast I donned my overalls and went into the garden to empty out the stones and to dig out a couple of montbretia plants.
Still not enough stones to cover the soil so I would have to do some more collecting. With that in mind E and I drove down to the beach in the afternoon and whilst I went to collect more stones she sat inside the van admiring the sea view. From her vantage point however I was invisible because of the intervening sea wall. I collected a small bucket full of stones which I placed in the empty space when we returned home…..
It looks full now but in fact there is space for a few more. I plan to put some other plants in the area later so some of the stones will move to create a space for them. It should then look fuller. (Click on pics to magnify)
In yesterday’s post I talked about continuing with the work in the garden and the weather thwarting that possibility. Wednesday (27) was a far better day for working outdoors as it was dry and sunny for the most part though I have to add much colder than it had been in the previous week. I didn’t get out of bed especially early as I might have done another time but I was downstairs exercising on the gym equipment by nine o’clock even so. After a brief cooling off outside I returned upstairs for breakfast before taking a shower and getting dressed for the day. Over the last couple of days our youngest son has been staying here and his car is left parked on the driveway in front of the house when he is here. The vehicle is supplied by the company he works for and he normally gets it cleaned in a car wash station. His employer pays for that but I suppose only once a month. It stood there looking as if it had been in a coal mine for weeks but as he said, driving up and down the motorways in the rain keeps it looking that way! I put on my overalls and with a bucket of warm water, liquid soap and the nylon bristled sweeping brush I keep in my van for cleaning the van I set about cleaning the car. It didn’t take long and at least it would look much better for a while…
Having done my good deed for the day I returned to the rear garden and set about fixing the stones in the rear edge of the small bed that is now occupied by the new fan palm…
I mixed some fine concrete to fill in the gaps and used what was left to fill holes elsewhere around the garden and one of the surface water grids. When I returned into the house through the cellar door my son was using the elliptical trainer and then the bench press to do some weight lifting. He, just like his brother, are certainly a healthy and muscular pair of guys. They each have membership in their preferred gymnasium but obviously take advantage of the equipment we have at home when they visit. It is good to see they are looking after themselves by keeping fit. I wonder where they get that from?
After my morning exercises on the gym equipment followed by some gardening later I rested for the remainder of Christmas Day. I wasn’t going anywhere and had no visitors. E went to her mom’s house for the day to meet with her family and I had the day to myself. I had planned to go for an afternoon walk but changed that idea and decided I would take one on Tuesday instead. I usually take my walks on days I am not using the equipment and Tuesday would be one of those days. However after arising early to do just that I again had a change of heart. It was a holiday after all so I took the day off. No exercising on the equipment, no walks, I was going to treat myself. Wednesday would see my exercise regime resume its routine. What was I going to do with myself? I just cannot sit around too long, I am not that type of person, I have to be doing something. I ended up doing some gardening, sweeping up more leaves and sorting out some of the last remaining natural stone pieces to see what I could use to fill in the space behind the newly planted fan palm. The small patch once occupied by the rhubarb I moved was separated from the rest of the flowerbed by a length of stone and other stone pieces were fitted to two of the other sides. The fourth side at the rear is adjacent to the concrete path behind it but I wanted to put some stone slabs there to prevent soil over spill and to improve the appearance. It was the only flowerbed in the garden not completely walled-in so to speak so it needed doing anyway. Having searched through our small stock of stones, bricks and concrete pieces I found four pieces of stone which would fit perfectly along the rear of the small bed but I was prevented from further work because of the rain showers. I hoped Wednesday would see better weather and allow me time to do the work. I’ll let you know one way the another. When out in the garden I noticed many of the bulbs we have in pots near the patio have sprouted up quite some way ready to flower in the weeks ahead. They seem to be appearing sooner this season because of the mild weather. I hope it lasts.
Sunday was one of those days where one minute it was warm and sunny and the next it was cool with a breeze blowing. One consolation was that it didn’t rain which meant I could stay out in the garden to do my thing. The weather at this time of year can be very changeable, a bit like me, one minute I want to do something in particular and the next I change my mind and do something completely different. I have always something on my mind I wish to get done but do not always do it immediately. Let me see if I can explain. Whenever I have a large project to do I am more interested in the main constructive part of that project, for instance if I wanted to build an extension to a room and then decorate it, it would be the main construction which would hold more interest for me. I would be less interested in the decoration and thereafter the detail. It isn’t that I don’t like decorating but for me it is the construction part that I enjoy the most. So although I may have many things to do, it is the larger projects I am drawn to first. All the minor jobs do get done but later and usually because they have been on my mind too long. On Sunday the first thing I did was to check how the concrete I had laid on Saturday had turned out. Suffice to say I was pleased it had gone well and had now set hard. There was still plenty of time before lunch to do a little gardening for after lunch I just planned to relax. In the flowerbed beneath the west wall of the garden I wanted to dig out a few bulbs where we didn’t wish them to be, at the rear of the bed. Next, I wanted to cover the area at the rear of the bed with stones both for effect and to keep weeds at bay.
There is far too much open soil at the rear of the bed so the plan is to cover it all but unfortunately there wasn’t enough stones on the day to do that. When I obtain more stones I will finish the work. Personally I think it looks much better already and it will serve to reduce maintenance by keeping the weeds down. I replanted the bulbs elsewhere in the bed. I then topped-up the soil levels in the three flowerbeds on the patio using growing compost.
As you can see, the ‘Mums’ in the two small beds have really filled out…I removed them from the larger bed last year…..
The same bed from the other side…
And some more ‘Mums’ at the other end of the garden…
It’s like a take-over bid with Mums but they come into their own in Autumn when the flowers come out. In a week or so the red, yellow and white flowers on these two balls will almost blot out the leaves. They are beginning to show already.
I had placed an order for a new leather-look skirt on Thursday evening (21) and was informed it would arrive the following Monday but as seems to be usual for on-line shopping it was delivered sooner on Saturday 23. I had been woken by the mobile phone jingle that indicated a text message had been received. It was still only seven o’clock in the morning! That meant I had to get up just in case the postman arrived early. He actually arrived at ten-thirty, about his normal time for deliveries at our house. Now I had it in mind to do some work in the garden on Saturday morning whilst we were enjoying a couple of days of dry weather. I had to shelve the idea at least until the postman had arrived. The work I wanted to do was to mix some fine concrete and apply it as a fillet around the stone edging along the flowerbeds where it meets with the footpath. Early in the year I had installed some stones as an edging along the long flowerbed and had applied a thick fillet of concrete. Now I wanted to do the same to three other main beds, around the Mound, alongside the greenhouses and along the west bed. During the summer we had been pestered by ants digging in between the stones and the footpath in those areas leaving as they do the removed soil or sand. I wanted to put a thicker fillet of concrete down to prevent further ant destruction. Having mixed the concrete I got on with the work which took me two hours to complete.
The pictures were taken shortly after the work was completed so there remained the task of cleaning up the concrete from the paths. That couldn’t be done completely until the following day when the fillets had set. As usual click on pictures to magnify or right-click and open in new tab.
I’d a good night’s sleep on Thursday but arose still feeling a little tired. We were forecast to have a few showers during the morning but as it was still dry around ten o’clock I thought I might see if I could do something about the drain pipe connected to the water butt. The pipe allows excess rain water to flow to the main drain at the side of the house once the water butt is full to the brim. However, since constructing the stone bench it was now in the way as I intend to fit a back rest on the wall behind it.
We have at home a lot of plumbing materials including left-over pipes and recovered pipes from previous works and I was wondering if there was enough pipes and fittings of the right size to use to re-position the drain pipe. After a search I finally found what I needed except for some fixing brackets which I will have to purchase next time I am out from the house. At least the system can remain in use in the meantime I have had to place a couple of bricks beneath the pipe to support it.
No sooner had I packed away the tools and it began to rain heavily. I checked the grid into which the piped water flows and it was pouring out as it should. By now it was approaching noon and E and I sat down with a drink, chatted and watched some television until it was time to eat. A few days earlier she had asked me to help fit some shelving in the room we transformed into her workshop early last year but I had forgotten until I began thinking about projects at lunch. After lunch therefore we both went upstairs to see what could be done. When I stripped out the room to refurbish it I removed some shelving and brackets and had stored them away. It was easy enough for us to refit once she had decided what she wanted.
More shelves can be added by simply fitting extra brackets into the supports. All in a day’s work as they say.
No walk for me on Wednesday morning, I wanted to get on with some work in the rear garden. For some time I have promised myself I would do something with the remaining long length of natural stone we had discovered buried with all the other stone a few years ago whilst we were digging out the ground behind what is now the Mound.
We had found such a large amount buried we were able to use it in various places around the garden as you might know if you’ve read my posts over the last three years or so. I decided to construct a stone seat in the area we now affectionately call The Secret Garden, once The Plot. There is a space immediately behind the garage which never sees the Sun. It is a great place to sit for a time to cool off when the weather is hot and sunny but the location isn’t exactly what you might call romantic though the view forward is pleasant sitting close to a water-butt and a compost bin which looks like a ‘Dalek‘ I would think isn’t.
A plant or two either of which prefer total shade or a couple of artificial plants might make it more attractive and perhaps that is what I will consider later. The work involved constructing the two small brick pillars and setting the stone slab on top and I had it done in an hour.
My next job will be to lower the drain pipe to below seat level and maybe construct a back rest fitted to the garage wall which shouldn’t take long once I decide to do it. Whilst I had some mortar I cut the stone cap and fixed it to the top of the brick pillar which I had built a couple of weeks ago but hadn’t been able to cut the stone at that time.
Finally I mixed some fine-grained concrete and set the stones around the base of the recently installed washing line post to complete that job too. I took the afternoon off and lounged about on the patio in the warm sunshine with E. Yes, it turned out much warmer than Tuesday had been (see yesterday’s post).