Getting near

I have just finished the next stage of the garden project which leaves me just three things left to do. Today as I write on 28 th September I have laid the membrane and set in the perimeter of it with concrete.

The cobbles dotted around are there temporarily to hold down the overlapping joints of the membrane which comes in a roll one metre in width. The next stage will be to lay some cobbles through the plot to form stepping stones but I will have to cut the membrane along the proposed route to remove a little of the soil beneath. I will then lay concrete in the bottom and set the cobbles in it. The concrete will also re-seal the gap in the membrane at the same time. The final stage will be to fill the area with pebbles and stones then clean the perimeter cobbles. 

Shirley Anne

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Stage complete

It was quite a windy day on Tuesday (18 th) but very warm too. The remnants of the latest hurricane had wended its way across the Pond but had fizzled out somewhat. Even so the wind was quite strong. Earlier I had been for one of my regular walks but the wind at that time wasn’t strong. About an hour after returning home it began to rain though only lightly but it was enough to keep me from continuing with the lawn project. Around ten o’clock the rain had stopped and the sun was shining so I put on my working gear and set about finishing off the first stage of the project, the final third part of digging out the small trench and putting in some hardcore.

As you can see from the picture that stage is now complete. The removed soil from the grass sods was scattered on the lawn itself where there was a small dip near The Mound. The rest of the soil was put in the raised bed in which were growing some potatoes until a few days earlier. They have been dug out and eaten! What didn’t go in that bed was spread over the other beds. The large bag which I had filled with soil a couple of days ago will be used in the front garden later. The second stage will be to cover the hardcore in the bottom of the trench with a concrete mix. Everything is gradually taking shape.

Shirley Anne

Pests

There are a few things which really annoy me in life but one of the most annoying are insect pests and especially flying insects. It seems to me that some of them think I am the source of their next meal by the way I am not left alone. Some insect pests can be very irritating and can lead me to abandon what I am doing because of their not leaving me in peace. In the summer months flies and wasps buzz about my person and the flies especially like using my exposed flesh to land on. I have to apply lotions to deter them but it isn’t always successful. Creams with lavender in them seem to work to a point as long as you like the smell of lavender which I do. Now that Autumn is upon us we have more damp days especially in the mornings which appears to favour certain insects like midges and mosquitoes. I know first hand how annoying it is to be pestered by these two particular insect pests having experienced both offenders several times in my life. I remember being in Scotland on a camping holiday with family and being pestered so much by mosquitoes and midges forcing us to duck inside to get away from them. The only places free from them are either freezing cold or extremely hot and dry. Unfortunately I live in a temperate region where they like dwelling too!  On Monday 17 th I resumed work on the lawn project spending just two hours but it was early in the morning just after six-thirty. The air was still damp and right on cue whilst I was digging out the sods and cleaning off the soil from them the midges and mosquitoes arrived. I was wearing overalls and gloves so only my face was exposed. They appear to like my face! I got so annoyed I returned indoors to fetch the fly spray (it kills mosquitoes too) and sprayed the air around me. Normally the spray would have dissipated immediately but because there was no wind it lingered. I wasn’t pestered anymore. I got this far which was enough for the day.

The bag of soil was getting too full but rather than fetch another bag I deposited most of what I had dug up on the day in one of the flowerbeds. I could have continued and completed the digging but I have no deadline to keep….and it is hard work.

Shirley Anne

Sand and clutter

Before any work could be done on the lawn project I had to figure where I would put the soil after digging it out to allow the cobbles to be laid. Some of the soil would be replaced once the grass had been removed from it. I decided the only suitable place to store it would be where the second bag of sand had been placed. I had removed the sand from the cellar floor whilst constructing the pit in there (see earlier posts). That meant I had to put the sand into small bags and store it in the garage as I had done with the first large bag. Some of that sand has since been used but there was still a large amount unused. I spent some time on Thursday afternoon and Friday morning re-bagging and removing the sand from outside. 

…and putting it into the garage with the rest….

It may not seem a lot but there are seventeen bags there in the picture above with two more behind the wheelbarrow.There are also bags of grit, granite chippings and cement there too! The garage is getting quite cluttered as you can see from these pictures….

The wooden crate and the blue coloured pallet were used in the delivery of the cobbles. In this country these things are never collected and we have to dispose of them ourselves but sometimes they do come in handy. The timber can be used and the large bags used in delivery of sand, soil and other things can be used too as you can see. We use this garage for storing most things we use outdoors for there is more space in it than the second garage as well as it being more accessible to both front and rear gardens. Whilst access to the gardens is easy from the second garage access to the rear garden is more restricted and only suitable for pedestrian activity. Just after I had completed the removal of the sand the rain came down heavily. Typical UK weather…

Shirley Anne

Beginnings

Having received the cobble stones the day before I set about laying most of them temporarily on the grass on Thursday morning (13 th) whilst the weather was fine. I used about 220 of the 250 supplied but may fit in a few more before the serious work begins. 

If you want to know exactly how many cobbles I used….. 1,2,3,4…..It was just to give me an idea of layout shapes I might go with but I rather like the one in the picture so it may remain as it is with just a few minor alterations. When I have decided on the shape I will start by digging around the perimeter before removing the cobbles from the lawn until I lay them permanently. The hard work starts by digging out the grass and laying a solid foundation on which to lay the cobbles. In fact I think the first part of the project will be where the heaviest work will be carried out. Something to look forward to as long as the weather holds. I’ll just have to wait and see. Once the cobbles are set in place it will be time to concentrate on filling in the new-formed bed and deciding what plants to put in it. It won’t just be plants going in but I will leave that for another post. 

Shirley Anne

Weeds and stuff

A gardener’s life is a constant battle with weeds or should I say wild flowers or wild plants. I’m good at laying out gardens placing plants in them and then looking after them but I get a little frustrated when each time I go into the garden I end up picking out weeds. They grow absolutely everywhere don’t they? Short of plucking them out or maybe spraying them if they are not close to wanted plants there is little else that can be done. Some weeds behave themselves and are easily controlled whilst others can be very difficult if not impossible to eradicate. I’m no gardener in a professional sense and probably only an average amateur but I do know how much hard work is necessary for the upkeep of a garden especially if the garden is larger than the average. We have two gardens at home, one front and one in the rear and both are reasonably large in area though the front garden has less planting area and is also the smaller of the two. Although it is smaller it has the greater weed problem both by variety and volume. However I have to admit that a large part of the front garden namely what I call the front mound where the flag pole stands has been deliberately left to grow a little wild. It is covered in rocks with a few bushes in it so it looks natural and wild. There are some weeds I pluck out and some I leave but the problem is the ones I leave like spreading themselves all over the place and indeed that is how they grow by blanketing the ground. During the summer one of them has tiny pink/purple flowers which attract bees and other pollinators…see above. Below is the same plant as it was on Saturday now with less flowers.

It is I admit quite attractive but it does grow anywhere it finds a foothold, on the walls, in cracks in the concrete, and just about anywhere else. We call it Southport Weed for it is prolific here. On Saturday (25 th) I lifted so much of it that I had left growing on top of the raised white gravel area behind the plants in the front garden it half-filled the wheelie bin. it had almost covered the gravel completely.

Despite the amount there it was fairly easy to lift as it puts roots down in one spot and spreads from there though there were a few spots where it had done so. I sprayed the area afterward with a herbicide. Unfortunately the herbicide has a limited effect and I know the weed will return, it always does. In the flower borders other small weeds constantly appear and if left they too pop up all over the place. There must be thousands of invisible seeds waiting to germinate just to annoy me! Who said gardening was easy?

Shirley Anne

A day in June 2018

For some weeks now we have been enjoying dry and warm weather and I have been able to go for walks wearing the lightest of clothing. This morning (13 th) I was up and out of the house at seven  doing just that. I arrived back home two hours later and was able to sit at the table with E for breakfast. She had only just gotten up as I entered the front door. Anyway I sat out on the patio after breakfast relaxing with a cup of coffee for a short time but I knew I had things to do so that didn’t last. The first thing I wanted to do was to erect some sort of temporary barrier to block a gap in the Laurel bushes to stem the wind so that the space could fill naturally with new leaf growth. New growth is already there but shielding it from the wind will encourage it to grow quicker….

I used some of the fire-clay floor tiles which I had removed from the gym room when I dug the pit a couple of months ago and propped them up with bricks though they were capable of standing unsupported. That little job didn’t take long and I went on to do the next which took far longer. The rear door frame of the garage in which I keep my van had become rotten on one side at the bottom. We suspected a mouse had recently been trying to gnaw its way though the rotting timber of the frame because there were a lot of .wood chippings around. I had to remove the door, which is very heavy, in order to saw off the rotted timber. I made the cut at an angle and manufactured a replacement section to match. This was to prevent the ingress of rain. A level cut would have allowed water to seep between the joint. This is the finished work before it was painted the following day. I had treated the timbers with preserver before fitting it.

I re-hung the door but left off the automatic closer to prevent the door closing by itself as it once did. Sometimes ‘auto-closers’ can be a nuisance. It was twelve-thirty and E made me a cup of coffee which I again sat and drank on the patio before returning indoors within the hour for lunch. The afternoon was mine to do as I pleased, which was almost nothing! I did take a walk around the garden though and took some photos as I went. In front of the large greenhouse…

Behind the large greenhouse…

Down the garden toward ‘The Mound’

The Mound…

Behind The Mound…

Toward The Patio….

Behind The Patio……The ‘Secret Garden’….

The ‘other’ garage…

And back to the start…

The end…….LOL

Shirley Anne

Now you see it

See what? Well if you compare the above with the picture below…

The plant that was there on the left has now been removed. Sadly it died back and for a couple of years we made attempts to keep it going but in the end there was more dead wood than live. The other two plants seem indestructible

The taller plant against the wall is a tree, one of three we have around the garden and presently (8 th) in bloom sporting little white clusters of flowers. The bush to the right is bearing red berries at this time. It was Saturday and during the morning E and I set about digging out the dying shrub and pruning others around the garden. I had already been in the garden just after seven o’clock in order to water the lawn, giving it a good soaking in the process. Once that was done I went into the front garden and gave that a good soaking too. Late in the afternoon I watered the rear garden plants and the lawn once more. Having not had rain for weeks apart from the one day a week ago it has been necessary work watering the gardens. E had gone to see her brother as it was his birthday. He lives with his mom so she was able to visit with her too. Whilst she was out I watered the garden and re-potted this little plant

It hadn’t been doing very well no matter what we tried to help it. Compare it with its twin in the picture below 

They were originally planted at the same time a couple of years ago. It may be that we need to re-pot the twin also but for the time being it is thriving. Apart from doing household chores that represented my Saturday. I did take time out on the patio though, it wasn’t all work!

Shirley Anne

A scorcher

Alright it wasn’t so hot to be unbearable but it certainly had been hot considering it was barely half-way through April! It was Wednesday the 18th and the local temperature had gradually risen during the morning to reach around 22 deg C in the afternoon. Added to that it was sunny throughout the day, a really pleasant day that wouldn’t have been out-of-place in the summer months let alone April. Nice as it all was however I didn’t get to rest outside on the patio until after lunch. I had spent three hours in the garden before deciding to return indoors. I had arisen a little late and spent some time using the gym equipment before breakfast and following that I resumed work in the cellar room. My efforts at rendering the wall were what you might call not that professional but after all I am not a builder. It meant I had some filling in to do but chose to use plaster rather than cement as it is easier to use and easier to get a smooth surface, not that a smooth surface was all that necessary. It would look better when painted over if I used plaster. Once I had done that I sealed the wall using a diluted PVA mixture. The next task in the room would be filling in the holes in the floor, painting the walls and ceiling (again) and painting the shelving. At this stage I am undecided as to whether to re-position the room light and replace it in the process though it is only a storage room. I had time before lunch to mow the lawn

The picture was taken later in the afternoon along with the next two….

The rhubarb is doing very well in its new home. If my readers will remember I moved it from where it was to the raised bed above. As yet there are no signs of the potatoes in the bare ground in front of it.

Shirley Anne

 

Typical

It sometimes takes a lot of effort to get E out of her chair if I wish to show her something, especially if that is something in the garden. If it is cold and even when it isn’t that cold she grumbles that she needs to put on a coat before stepping out. So it was on Sunday morning just before we had lunch. She tells me that she feels the cold, which she does and I have known that ever since we met but there are times when it isn’t as cold as she thinks it is. Nevertheless being as she is a bit stubborn there is no way she won’t wear a coat if she thinks it is cold. It’s just her way I suppose. I am far less troubled by a low temperature or a little wind though I have to confess I hate the wind when it is strong. Eventually I got her to go into the garden with me so that I could show her some of the flowers that have sprung up recently, crocus, snowdrops, daffodils, tulips and hyacinths to name a few. She is fond of flowers as I am too except that I prefer those that don’t grow from bulbs. I find it strange that for someone who professes to love these early flowers E seldom goes into the garden at this time of year. Anyway we spent some time out there and whilst there she asked about the bluebells I had been digging out on Saturday and where I had found them. As my readers will know digging out bluebells and montbretia took me months to do this time last year. I knew there would be some still to dig out this year and maybe that will be the same next year too but they are far fewer in number than when I first started. Even so there are still quite a few popping up occasionally. She called me over to a spot where she had noticed a couple more which I had obviously missed. I dug them out then she showed me more in another bed so I dug them out too! That is typical of E, she is quick to show me things I have missed or mistakes I have made. I laugh about it and say ‘Yes boss, I’ll do it right away boss’…….Ha, ha, ha.

Shirley Anne