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

 

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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

Nearly a day off

Gardener Gardening
Gardener Gardening (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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.

Shirley Anne

Getting motivated

Hangover Square (film)
Hangover Square (film) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

For many people today will be ‘getting over hangover day’ I suppose but for me it means getting myself motivated for the things I have in mind to do. It has been a very long time since I felt the effects of a hangover and I am glad those days are past having given up the demon drink some years ago. My pleasure is in being active, something not easily achieved when drunk under the influence of alcohol. People do odd things when drunk, often regrettable things. It is a new year with new beginnings or the possibility of them for those who are inclined. For myself, I have other plans. I have no intentions of wasting my time wiling away the hours in a state of being incapable due to alcohol.

I didn’t need to get motivated on Christmas Day, it came naturally! On Christmas Eve in the afternoon E asked if I would like to accompany her on a short trip to Dobbies, the gardening centre. She wanted to buy a small present on behalf of our youngest son. I took the opportunity to tag along as I had wanted to purchase another plant for the rear garden anyway. I wanted another dwarf fan palm to put in the space the rhubarb had occupied before I dug it out a few days earlier. We purchased all that we wanted and returned home immediately afterward. It was beginning to get dark in the late afternoon so I left the plant in its pot until the following day, Christmas Day. On Christmas morning I was up and dressed in my sports clothes and spent time on both the treadmill and the elliptical trainer before returning upstairs for breakfast before eight o’clock. After breakfast and getting dressed for the day I put on my overalls and went into the garden. It was beginning to get brighter and I could now do a little gardening. I collected the wheelbarrow and took it to the composting bin to collect some compost. Then I dug out the hole for the new plant and put some of the compost in it before setting the plant in place and back-filling with soil. It, like all the other fan palms we have will grow to a height of two to three metres.

I took the remainder of the compost and dug it into that part of the raised bed where I would replant the rhubarb corms then placed them in the bed, covering them lightly with soil. The area in question lies about a metre outward from the rear wall at the top of the picture.

You can just about see a couple of them sticking out of the soil. I didn’t water them in as at this time of year they are dormant. In any case rain was forecast and that would level off the soil allowing the heads to show as they should. Hopefully the rhubarb will establish itself and produce a better crop this year having not done so well last year. Once I had watered in the new fan palm I spent a little time sweeping up yet more fallen leaves from the path behind the large greenhouse before finally returning indoors for the day.

Shirley Anne.

Not quite to plan

In yesterday’s post I mentioned I was leaving off working on any projects at home until the new year. However, as I am too active a person I didn’t include that to mean I wouldn’t be doing anything! For a time now I have been considering moving the rhubarb from the small bed the corms were in and putting them in the raised bed between the two greenhouses. I had cleared the bed some months ago so it is lying empty at the moment.

With that in mind I dug them out and now have a small spare space in which to plant something else.

For the time being (as I write this on Fri 22) I have placed the corms on the large empty bed. I intend to dig in some compost from the compost bin before planting them. They will occupy the far end of the bed next to the main garden wall as E wishes to grow some vegetables in the same bed later. I think she’s intending to plant beetroot and maybe some other root vegetables though not potato, not this time round anyway. I have been wondering what to put in the spare space, another dwarf fan palm? A dwarf conifer? Flowers? I am not sure right now but I would prefer something on the taller side rather than ground-hugging. I have also been busy digging out a few montbretia plants that have been popping up here and there. If my readers remember I spent the first three or four months of the year digging out those rascals along with bluebells. I expect I will be doing much the same these next few months too although on a much smaller scale as I expect there to be far fewer.

Shirley Anne

 

Wasted journey?

A few months ago E mentioned that she was up on the raised ‘secret garden’ as we now fondly call it and when she decided she wanted to come down she told me that she had nearly walked off the area between the two sets of steps we have there….

The drop there as you can see in the above picture (centre bottom) is around 750 mm onto the paving below which would prove to be nasty for anyone not realising it was there. A small wall could have been built but as the area slopes down toward the drop and has to it would have caused water to build-up behind it. The plan was always to put either a large statue there or some potted plants but because the sun only shines there for a couple of weeks at the height of summer any plants would suffer being in the shade most of the year. The plants in the raised bed are in sunshine for six months at least but nearer to the rear of the garage (to the left in the picture) the sun doesn’t shine at all. The only real solution was to put artificial plants there. Initially E and I drove to Dobbies to see what was available but a member of staff informed us that they had stopped selling artificial plants of the type we wanted. A wasted journey we thought so we drove off to town to look in another store. That proved to be a wasted journey also but we persevered and drove back to Dobbies just to make sure there was nothing available. As it is the approach to Christmas we decided an artificial fir-tree might be suitable. Most of the trees there however were constructed using wire which wouldn’t be suitable for outdoors though we did see one small one entirely made of plastic. We bought it. Whilst there we looked in the indoor garden section as discovered that they did have something suitable for outdoors and we bought two of them. When we returned home and in an instant we had solved the ‘falling off the edge’ problem, and here they are 

The best part is they don’t require much in the way of after-care! Not a wasted journey after all.

Shirley Anne

A bit like me

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.

Shirley Anne

 

A home to live in

E has been her usual self, winning prizes seems to come naturally for her. I have lost count of the things she has won over the last few years, holidays, tvs, cameras, books, furniture, the list goes on. It was Monday morning the second day of the month and we were in the dining area alongside the kitchen just talking and looking out the window at the garden when the doorbell rang. I went to see who it was and it was the postman delivering a parcel, two parcels to be precise for he called a minute later with the second. E had no idea what was in the parcel though it was addressed to her. Eagerly opening it she discovered it was the prize she had recently won in a competition, a bird box as we call them here. It had been manufactured in Holland and was labelled a three level bird ‘flat’ (apartment). It was my job to mount it on the wall, the only place suitable for it to go given the preferences….

…and the close-up showing access panels on the side for each level should they need to be cleaned out…

We are hoping the box will get more cover as the plants below grow taller. Now that I was out in the garden I decided to do a couple of small jobs one of which was to sweep up the enormous piles of leaves that always accumulate by the cellar door leading out to the garden and in one or two other places around the house building. My other job was to shave off a little wood from the new passageway gate I had constructed a couple of months ago. It had expanded in the cool, humid weather as wood does. In the warmer and dryer months the wood shrinks a little so the gate fitted perfectly when I made it. I had forgotten to allow for the normal expansion of the timber. Despite the high winds we were experiencing on Monday it remained pleasant and warm throughout the day.

Shirley Anne

The season’s work

There’s no getting away from it, Autumn is upon us here in the UK. As the temperate areas of the Southern Hemisphere are welcoming Spring, we in the north are moving in the opposite direction. Leaves have been falling from the trees in greater quantities and for anyone living near that means the annual sweeping up of them! It’s either that else let the mess continue. Having a garden is a lovely thing and for those who wish to keep theirs tidy and well-maintained sweeping up the leaves is a must. The problem is the leaves don’t all fall at the same time. A couple of days ago I decided to sweep up as many of the leaves that had fallen as I could, mainly off the pathways because quite simply I got fed-up looking at the state of the garden. As the green waste bins were full after my trimming back the bushes in the front garden there was limited space for any swept-up leaves. I managed however to get them all in by compression. On Wednesday we were expecting another visit from the installers of our new garage door prior to it being installed the following week on Thursday. More accurate measurements were required and an assessment of the preparatory work we had done for the installation was needed. It was just as well I was at home for they had misunderstood my original request to maintain head-clearance and the reason for my having the roof at that point raised to accommodate the unit. They didn’t stop long and after five minutes or so were on their way. They weren’t sure if it would be themselves or the other local crew who would return to carry out the installation. E had been working in her studio during the morning but after lunch she joined with me and we cleared-up the fallen leaves once more but this time we included the lawn. Fortunately we have one of those devices , a rotatory sweeper which sweeps up the leaves into a hopper by simply pushing it along the ground. We had the work done in less than fifteen minutes but then had to put the leaves into one of the builder’s bags we keep in the garage. The green waste bins wouldn’t be emptied until two weeks later so storing the leaves temporarily in the bags was the only option and there would be more leaves to sweep up long before then. Autumn in the garden is never dull, there is always something to do, in fact I have some plans afoot already.

Shirley Anne

Garden bits

On Wednesday after some high winds overnight I hung out the flag having taken it down on Tuesday afternoon. I needed to do a spot of maintenance on the flag anyway. The top of the flag has a toggle which slips easily into the loop on the stay rope but there isn’t one at the bottom of the flag, only a small length of rope. Why the manufacturer doesn’t supply flags with two toggles on them defies logic. I have to use another method which is why it needed maintenance. That done I returned indoors to make a coffee for E and myself. She went upstairs to her workshop to do some work but I was at a loose end with nothing much to do. Well I couldn’t think of anything that wanted doing. I went into the garage to check if there were any leaks after the recent work then decided to tidy-up the raised planting bed between the greenhouses. This year we hadn’t planted anything new but had removed the strawberry plants that we had growing there. We decided that strawberry plants were too much of a problem. They put out feelers and produce more plants and need pruning back often. The fruit they bear is more often than not eaten by bugs despite efforts to prevent that. We are now thinking of growing potatoes once more which are less of a problem and produce a good yield. The bed awaits the planting season

The small greenhouse we purchased years ago has long since been used for storage and nothing is grown in it. It has become a store for plant pots and other odds and ends…

Whilst the large greenhouse has been used for growing some strawberry plants in pots and these bell peppers…

E usually grows tomatoes and cucumbers too but this year she hasn’t bothered much with the greenhouse except for growing the peppers. Whilst I was getting dressed in my bedroom earlier I noticed that the wind had caused an already broken off branch to fall lower from where it was hanging but it had been prevented from reaching the ground in our garden by the sycamore tree’s branches below. The sycamore tree is growing against the wall inside our garden. The lime tree grows on a neighbours land. See if you can spot the fallen branch. It is at the top right lying diagonally toward the centre in the picture. It looks small but in fact it is over three metres in length.

A couple of much larger dead branches hang on the same lime tree from which these branches keep on breaking off. One is shown in the centre of the next picture. Fortunately they are not hanging over our garden though there are live branches doing so

Finally I took a picture of the only apples growing on the trees this year, and these all on the same tree branch…

It has been a very poor year for apples for usually they count in the tens.

Shirley Anne