Category Archives: Garden

A change for a change?

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I had all sorts of  things I wanted to do on Saturday (22nd) but my day started  little later than I had planned, nevertheless I was downstairs before nine and had eaten breakfast by then too. The plan was to do more work in the lounge but it was such a lovely sunny day I decided not to spend too long working. I began by finishing applying a coat of gloss paint to the remainder of the picture rail, the door frame and the door. I decided not to paint the skirting boards or the fire surround (mantlepiece) for doing that would keep me working all morning and possibly into the afternoon. I wasn’t prepared to do that. Even so I spent almost two hours doing what I did then stopped to do a little work in the garden. Usually when I say garden it is invariably the rear garden as I spend less time working in the front garden which needs less maintenance. Monday was going to be collection day for the ‘green’ waste so I had to empty out the large bag which held the remaining bluebells and other plants which couldn’t be collected the previous time. There were other waste items to dispose of too, some large shrub root balls and leaves. I couldn’t place all the root balls in the bins as there wouldn’t be enough space for them this time around. They will go next time. I needed to leave enough space in one of the bins to accommodate the grass cuttings I was about to produce, yes, it was time to cut the lawn once more. So I mowed the lawn and pulled the now filled bins into the front garden ready to put out in the street on Sunday evening. Time for lunch but for a change I went to the pub. It isn’t often I eat at the pub on a Saturday as I am usually too busy working. After a change of clothes I walked to the pub in the lovely sunshine. I had expected the place to be full but it wasn’t so I didn’t have to wait long to be served. As usual the girls greeted me by name (they do that for most of the regular customers) and made me feel welcome. I seem to get special treatment from one or two of them who like to chat with me. Anyway it was a pleasant hour or two and I walked back home. I hung the washing on the lines in the cellar having forgotten I had placed it in the machine earlier. I could have hung it outside but I often don’t do that. Left to dry in the cellar means I can casually take it down when it suits and don’t have to worry about the weather. I made a coffee and sat out in the sun on the patio but after a while I’d had enough of that. I remembered that I needed to clear out the gutter on the rear of the garage roof overlooking the Plot and at the same time adjust the set time on the small floodlight nearby as it wasn’t remaining on long enough when triggered. Having collected the ladder and tools I did those two small jobs then I decided to get the hose out and water the garden as we hadn’t had much rain for a while. Then I noticed a bluebell growing behind one of the small plants in the Mound. Out came the tools and kneeling stool and I began to dig it out. I really had to dig deep and in the process dug out quite a few bulbs. Did I mention that I consider bluebells to be a weed, yes, nice weeds but still weeds? Time to go indoors for another coffee and watch the FA cup semi-final game (soccer). Do I ever rest?

Shirley Anne

At last!

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At last I finished work on the ceiling in the small lounge. I started Tuesday tidying up the paint work on the two stripes which encircle the cornice or coving (see yesterday’s post for pictures). It is difficult trying to obtain  perfectly straight lines when doing this kind of work simply because of the abnormalities in the plaster work and consequently touching-up the paint afterward is often necessary. I spent an hour and a half before lunch and an hour after lunch to get it to a reasonably good finish. Whilst doing that work I took the opportunity to give the frieze another coat of paint, making three in all. Just after lunch I was looking out of one of the rear windows and took these two pictures

The time was one-thirty BST or half-past twelve GMT. The first picture is pointing directly northward. I only took them to indicate how much sunshine actually reaches the garden in the middle of the day in the month of April. The shadow will be closer to the house at Midsummer. The garden was in full sunshine during the morning as the sun was in the east and to the right in these pictures. When it swings around to the west most of the garden is again in full sunshine even at this time of year. The garden at the front points roughly south-west so gets the full sun most of the day.
Anyway back to work…I resumed painting the ceiling before moving on to apply paint primer to as much of the wood work as I could before deciding I’d had enough for one day.

Applying the primer has exposed numerous holes and gaps in the window frame though I knew there were some beforehand. Now I have to fill them all in before applying a second coat. At this point in time I guess I have covered about half of the wood work. It is taking much longer to do the work as I am doing it alone but I reckon I am doing well after only five days.

Shirley Anne

Not as many

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I remember over the last few years how each Springtime we had to remove the sycamore seedlings from the lawn and borders by plucking them out by hand. That can be done very easily when they are small, it gets more difficult when they are left to sprout more leaves than the two they have at that stage for by then the roots will have grown deeper too. This year there have been far fewer that have needed removing and that was entirely due to the fact that in late Autumn last year I vacuumed the leaves from the lawn and obviously the seed pods too. I hope I can report the same next year and, dare I say, bluebells either! Since E has taken less interest in the gardens lately, that is over the past couple of years, I have become increasingly interested. Yes, I have done structural alterations and E has helped with some of that work but I have taken a greater interest in populating the gardens with new and varied plants. It has fallen to me to do most of the maintenance also, well I have spent much of my life maintaining one thing or another, including electrical engineering! Seems I was born to maintain things. As I grow older any work I will do anywhere but especially in the gardens will be maintenance. I am writing this on Tuesday afternoon (28 March) after returning indoors because it is now raining. I took a couple of pictures from my kitchen/dining room window…

I think the rain makes everything look fresh and clean. In the last picture you can see the white blossom on the plum trees and there is a lot of it this year. I wonder if there will be more fruit too?

As always click on the pictures to magnify.

Shirley Anne

All stop

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Wednesday turned out to be a gloriously sunny day, a little breezy but definitely a day for lounging about on the patio. Alas I couldn’t indulge until after my lunch and that’s what I did for an hour or so. On Tuesday evening I began to feel the effects of all my hard work on my upper leg muscles which made it difficult to get up if I was either sitting down or lying down. Once I was on my feet it wasn’t too bad and walking wasn’t a great problem as long as I took my time. So I made the decision on Tuesday night to stop the work I was doing in the garden for at least one day to allow my muscles to recover. Being on my knees (on a garden kneeling stool) digging and manipulating the large stones to make an edging for the long flowerbed meant I was stretching and that must have put too much of a strain on my leg muscles. I am still trying to figure out why only my legs when most of the work was being done by my arms! I had an idea it might be associated with the nerve in my neck being compressed because of the unavoidable position of my head whilst doing the work. Essentially it would be the same as if I were bending my head backward and looking upward for long periods. Whatever the reason a few neck exercises helped and during Wednesday morning things improved. I was glad about that for although I had stopped working with the stones for the day there was a couple of other things I could do without putting any strain on my legs. For some time now I have thought about putting more soil in the largest flowerbed on the patio as the level in there has dropped due to settling. There is plenty of spare soil in the corner plot at the end of the long flowerbed but there might still be bluebell seedlings in it so to make sure I filled some plant pots and left them standing…

If there are any bluebells in there they will appear soon enough, either way I will be able to use the soil in a few weeks, removing anything else that might have grown in there too. I may fill more pots to ensure I have enough. I did that just before lunch but after lunch I gave the lawn its first cut….

Even though I waited until the afternoon the grass was still very damp so it took much longer than it would otherwise do. If I attempted to cut using the whole width of the mower it refused so I used only half the width with each pass. At that time the patio was in full sunshine (just left in the picture) and you can see it is that bright for the edge of the patio at bottom left is hidden in the glare. My day was done as far as work went and I got the chance to sit in the sun. My electrical work till then had dried-up but someone called to put an end to that. I would be doing that work on Friday weather permitting because it is outdoor work and the forecast didn’t look too promising.

Click on pictures to magnify

Shirley Anne

Hard going

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I might as well retire from electrical work for again on Monday I hadn’t any. I shouldn’t speak too soon though because that can change in an instant. As it happened Monday was a fine day and it enabled me to get out in the garden once more. Now it was that once my electrical work was hard-going at times but now the only hard work, that is physically hard work I do is either in the house or in the gardens. My current project has definitely been hard-going. Digging out bluebells so deep beneath the surface is very tiring especially as I have spent hours at a time doing it! On Monday my main aim was to concentrate on installing a stone edging to the long flowerbed and I got this far with it…..(as always, click on pictures to magnify).

What slowed me down, apart from heaving the stones into position was the fact that I had also been digging out bluebells in the bed behind it. I see one and dig deep to get at it but it isn’t alone and I ended up digging lots of them. What is heartbreaking is that as I think I’ve finished digging them out I notice another and so on. These are sprouting up in ground I had already filtered! It proves they are elusive but I leave them till they appear at the surface. It’s all I can do. Anyway it looked as though I might not have enough slabs to finish the edging so I decided to use the ones in the Mound and elsewhere, replacing them with large stones instead. When I went to The Mound to see what I could use I saw more bluebells around the slabs so digging them out became my task for an hour or so. It is unbelievable how many times I have revisited The Mound to dig out bluebells….This time I began just on the other side of the dwarf conifer in the foreground and ended up at the back of the Mound as I saw more of them to dig out. I also removed the stone slabs which were surrounding the Phoenix Canariensis  in the west wall flowerbed and tidied up the area…

The Phoenix Canariensis is almost dead centre in the picture. Whilst working in the area I put more soil in the bed where I had been working a day or two earlier removing some large slabs of stone. As I am the only one working in the garden the work is taking a lot of time to do. In all I spent about five and a half hours in the garden. Monday was the day the green waste was collected and our two wheelie bins are no longer full of bluebells! However, I do have to empty out the builders bag which is full of them too! That can be done at any time though, there is no hurry, there is too much else to do in the meantime.

Shirley Anne

A bit of rain

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The weather forecast for Saturday looked promising, no rain until evening though a few isolated spells of rain might be possible during the day. I was happy with that as I wanted to do some more work in the rear garden. The main project I have at the moment is to install a stone edging along the length of the long flowerbed. The bluebell removal project is ongoing though the bulk of the work you could say is done. It will take a long time to dig out the new ones as they appear and at this moment in time work on that small task is frequent. During the other work I was doing on Saturday I noticed quite a number of bluebells in different places which I dug out immediately. It would appear that I may not need to purchase any stone to install the edging as we had some stored and I planned to dig out some more from the west wall flowerbed. This was how that spot looked on Friday…..  Now it looks like this as I had dug out five large slabs and also some large stones as you can see…….

Those stones and slabs I moved here…….

The slabs count three from the left then a stone then two more slabs. The other slabs and stones I put there on Friday. I emptied the soil that we had stored in the white builder’s bag to fill the space that resulted from digging out the slabs. This picture was taken sometime last year I think. More work has gone on in the area since then….

Like this for instance……..

We will need more soil to top it off but though we have plenty of soil over the other side of the garden in the Corner Plot there could be some bluebell seedlings in it. In that part of the Plot it is more likely there are montbretia bulbs in it. One thing I noticed when working in that spot was the lack of any plant life below a few centimetres, not like I found in the main flowerbed. I will probably use the soil therefore which is nearest the back wall in the Corner Plot…….

Notice something missing? The yellow builder’s bag I was using to dump the bluebells because the two wheelie bins were full to the brim. I dragged the bag to the spot the white bag had occupied. When the wheelie bins are emptied I will be able to empty the contents of the bag into them…

….and these are the smaller stones I have removed from the ground during the work and there are still more to pick up and no doubt still to dig out yet….

It was one-thirty when I decided to stop for the day and as I did the rain began to fall but it was only very light and soon stopped. Our regular delivery girl brought yet another parcel for E. We chatted about work. She told me she was feeling a little tired to which I replied the same. I invited her to step into the house and on into the kitchen to have a look at the rear garden where I have been working. I think she was surprised at what she saw. As we moved back to the front garden for her to resume her deliveries she pointed to a couple of bluebells in one of the flowerbeds. That was it! When she’d gone I set about digging them out before finally returning indoors for a belated lunch.

Shirley Anne

Six and a half

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One might think by now I would have very few bluebells to dig out of the flowerbeds and by and large I have but no. If I calculate the percentage of bulbs I have removed I would estimate more than 95% and if I say I have removed well over eight thousand and probably over nine thousand there must be at least a thousand hiding from me! I work in bucketfuls and on Thursday I dug out another bucketful of them which would be three or four hundred. I suspect my calculations are inaccurate though and I’ve only dug out 90%. They just keep appearing in the areas I have been over two or three times. The strange thing is this, that the area which held the majority of them has far fewer appearing than elsewhere. I suppose that is due to the fact that it is an open border and I was able to systematically move along easier. Even so there were a few I dug out on Thursday. The plan for the day was to first of all check for bluebells and then perhaps start putting in some natural stone edging along the long flowerbed………

….but I only got as far as dumping a few stones on the soil at the far end in the picture. What I ended up doing was digging out bluebells in the flowerbed from one end to the other and then I moved to the Mound again for the fourth time and spent most of the day digging them out there too…….

The Mound was heavily populated with bluebells so I expected I would spend much time there but I never thought there would be quite so many. Imagine a hole, say 700 mm deep and around 150 mm across. That is about the size I dig when I discover a bluebell or two. They are often that deep and when I scrape with the hand fork I am amazed how many bulbs I loosen, thirty, forty all from the same hole! Well that’s fine for one hole but I’ve dug many of them in the Mound. It’s got so bad I find I’m having to constantly move the small plants there to get at the bulbs. If you don’t want a flower to take over your garden don’t plant bluebells! Whilst digging in the Mound I also removed a large quantity of small stones, well over two standard buckets full! There are more in there. As I was about to pack everything away I noticed  several bluebells close together in the flowerbed in front of the small greenhouse so had to dig them out too. Each time I thought I’d finished for the day I spotted more here and there too so dug them out as well. It was five-thirty in the afternoon by the time I got indoors. I had been working since ten o’clock with a one hour break for lunch, six and a half hours. Who thinks gardening is easy? Before I went indoors though I found a large bluebell growing here beneath the large stones on the left in the picture below,

I had removed some of the stones for use in the long flowerbed edging if I ever get to do it! You might just be able to see the top of the bluebell in the centre of the three large stones. I nearly forgot, I also planted two shrubs near to the large greenhouse in the corner plot. One I had placed there in it’s pot until I could plant it and the other I had dug out whilst digging out the bluebells beneath the large bush shown dead-centre in the top picture. In fact it was an off-shoot of the bush with it’s own root system.

Shirley Anne

Six hours minus lunch

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Tuesday was one of those days that was neither too cold nor too warm. Neither was it sunny for long but the wind was low and it was dry, just right for working in or rather working outside which was where you would find me. I had no electrical work so it was an ideal opportunity to carry on with what has turned out to be a long project, digging out the bluebells and montbretia. I was at last working in the corner plot and got this far….corner-plot-7

Compare to previous recent posts. You will notice that the small-leaved holly tree has been removed where it stood between the tree with the two trunks and the large sycamore trunk at the top of the picture. The holly is of a variety which tends to grow all over the place unless constantly pruned-back. I dug it out as I said I might. It was just as well for there were bluebells growing beneath it and behind it and they would have been difficult to get at with the tree in the way. The area in the picture at the top right and beyond the brick markers is mostly covered with montbretia. Fortunately most are growing near the surface and come out with a rake though I am using the fork to dig deep just to make sure. I use the kneeling stool and then dig out the loosened soil with a hand fork. That is why it is taking so long. I have to filter out the soil a small section at a time. You will notice a small shrub at the left-hand side of the picture. We had that growing in a large pot with the view of planting it out in the garden later. Before I planted it I dug deep in and around the spot to ensure no further bluebells were still lingering about. It was just as well I did for there were still a few in there which I had missed. long-flowerbed-15

I will have to leave populating the flowerbed too densely if at all for a while so that I can dig out any others I have missed. Speaking of which, I finally stopped work for the day at four o’clock and put the gardening tools away but when I took the photographs a little later I noticed four places in the bed to the left of the area in the bottom picture where more bluebells are beginning to show. Grrrrrr….! Using some plastic sticks I marked their positions so I would be able to see them for digging out later.

Shirley Anne

Creeping along

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On Wednesday I didn’t plan on working in the garden because I wanted a rest from it. At the same time I had no electrical job offers for the day either. The whole day would be spent doing well practically nothing. However, around three o’clock I couldn’t resist putting on a coat and taking the garden fork and some smaller tools and going over to where I had left-off a few days ago in digging out some bulbs. I decided to spend at least an hour seeing what progress I could make in removing what remains in the corner section of the long flowerbed. I got as far as this…..corner-plot-2

Only a small area really from the angle in the stone edging up to the bright stone marker a metre to the right and roughly as far back as the tree with the two trunks. The other tree to its right is a small-leaved holly of some type which is in need of some radical pruning or complete removal. I might just remove it and replace it with something else. To the right of where I had reached the ground is mainly populated with montbretia plants though there are some bluebells in there too. I will be glad when I finally reach the end…just behind the wheelie bin!corner-plot-1

The soil in the area is riddled with tree roots which have made removing the bluebell bulbs more difficult. I am hoping though that the montbretia bulbs will not be so deep beneath the surface but I will have to wait and see. Once I have finished digging everything out I will still have to be vigilant throughout the year to dig out any I have missed. Take my advice, if you don’t want plants that take over your garden don’t plant montbretia and especially don’t plant bluebells!

Shirley Anne

Fireworks

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I had a lousy night’s sleep on Thursday to Friday morning, tossing and turning throughout the eight hours I had. I had gone to bed at eight-thirty but didn’t actually nod off until just after nine. I was up and out of bed several times during the night until I decided I’d had enough and rose for the day at five-thirty. I remained in a sleepy state all day long and it was all I could do to stop my eyes closing. I had to go to that job I mentioned in yesterday’s post, no power to the downstairs lighting circuit. It was in the next town over seven miles away and I arrived there before nine o’clock as arranged. It transpired that the problem was a blown fuse and it had supposedly blown because one of the light bulbs on the circuit had blown. The lady’s son had previously rewired the fuse but it blew again. I could not find a fault so had to assume the fuse hadn’t been rewired properly. It can happen that if the fuse wire is too taut or has an indentation or even a loose connection causing an arc that the fuse gives up and blows under any load, especially if a light bulb has short-circuited. I repaired the fuse and all was in order. I was back at home just over an hour later. As the weather forecast was for rain early in the afternoon I decided not to do any work in the garden. I had been thinking of going to the pub for lunch yet again but thought the better of it as there was food in the refrigerator that needed to be used. E would be doing the weekly shopping and restocking the larder so to speak. She had been out all day on Thursday so switched to Friday to do the shopping. She even went out before noon which is a first as she usually goes out after two o’clock, even three o’clock sometimes. I digress. I prepared myself an early lunch because I’d had an early breakfast. When I had eaten I was looking out of the window at the rear garden, just pondering at first but then I went out and trimmed back the dead stalks on some plants so that the already sprouting new foliage could grow. Whilst doing that I noticed three or four bluebell plants growing in the flowerbed that runs in the front of the greenhouses..greenhouse-flowerbed-5

…..the one I had worked in late last year where I had fitted the stone edging and repopulated it. I knew there would be some popping up as is the case elsewhere. They were all located in the right-hand half of the bed where there had been a number of bluebells growing before I removed them. Just as I was finishing that small job I was shaken by the sudden loud bang of a large firework being let off followed by three or four more. They were exploding rockets being set off by workmen working at a house two doors away. The new owners have employed builders to renovate the property before they themselves move in, probably in a month or so. The noise was unbearable and I was showered with the debris which floated down over my house and garden and my neighbour’s garden too. I went upstairs and shouted as best as a woman can for them to refrain from setting the fireworks off whilst also telling them that they should be working. The noise abated, they must have heard me. I went to one of the front bedrooms and looked out of the window. I saw a couple of the men chatting and one of them walked past my house on the opposite side of the road towards his vehicle. I drew his attention regarding the fireworks telling him that there are folk in the area who work at night and they would be finding it difficult to sleep because of the noise. At first he tried to deny any knowledge of fireworks. I couldn’t believe his impudence. He apologised after I had told him I would be taking action if their inconsiderate behaviour lasted. It was only a few days ago I had to walk to the house to complain about the very thick smoke from a fire that was affecting several neighbours as well as myself. They had actually poured diesel on the fire to help it burn! Just then my next-door neighbour phoned and was wondering where the noise had been coming from. I went round to see her and explained what I had been obliged to do. She was answering a call from yet another neighbour who wanted to know the source of the noise too. Workmen can be so inconsiderate when there is no-one there supervising operations. Anyway it was around two o’clock and still there was no rain. As I walked up the path alongside this flowerbed I saw something that infuriated me…..No 2 Flowerbed 10

…bluebells! Now this was the second of the two front flowerbeds I had revamped last year and I had thoroughly sifted the soil from one end to the other. I was confident that there wouldn’t be any bluebells left as there are in the other bed  where I hadn’t been as fussy. If you magnify the picture you will see a shrub at the far right end of the flowerbed, a Fuchsia which I didn’t disturb when working the bed but did remove some bluebells from beneath it at the time. Now there were bluebells growing deep inside and among the stalks, impossible to remove unless the Fuchsia was taken out too. I was so annoyed but made it my business to remove it there and then. It took some time but eventually I got it out and then it was time to get at those bluebells too. I removed a bucket load of them! I didn’t really wish to lose the Fuchsia but on reflection it is a plant that grows vigorously, producing more and more stalks which get out of hand. For the time being therefore I am going to concentrate on the two front flowerbeds, especially the right-hand one which has many bluebells needing removal…Front flowerbed redesign 1

This is a picture (above) from last year. The rose has since been pruned right down and is going to look far better this year I think. Does it never end?

Shirley Anne

Back-breaking work

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Wednesday proved to be a fine and sunny day and much warmer than of late. I set my alarm to rise before seven o’clock but as usual for me when I do that I woke up just after six! After my prayer session I changed things around by going downstairs for breakfast before I washed and dressed. I did that because I intended to go straight into the garden once I returned downstairs and knowing I would need the toilet after eating breakfast beforehand. There is nothing worse than donning my overalls, boots and gloves only to need the toilet soon afterward! I was in the garden before eight o’clock to resume the mammoth task of digging out those bluebell bulbs. First though I decided to dig out a couple of Montbretia plants that were in the bed next to the patio, a couple I’d obviously missed digging out last year when I worked in the bed removing vast quantities of them. I moved to ‘The Mound’ (use search box over on the right) and began digging out several bluebell bulbs that had emerged from beneath the soil and in the front of one of the trees there I think I dug out around fifty just in the one spot! The tree is the slim one nearest the front just left of the green shrub.the-mound No doubt others will show themselves soon. Anyway after spending some time there I moved over to the long flowerbed (the other end of the one I have been working in removing bulbs for the last few weeks) near to the Mound to dig out several more from the same spot I had worked only three weeks ago. long-flowerbed-10It pays to wait for them to show. I moved along the flowerbed and dug out many more bulbs from beneath the holly tree and the bushes growing there. I finally came to the spot where I had first begun to dig out Montbretia in the centre part of the flowerbed and discovered more growing there. Is there no end to them? The sad part is I know there will be more to dig out as the weather gets warmer but they should only be few (she says hopefully). In the process of digging out some bulbs behind one of the bushes I removed a new shoot of that bush and put it in the bed further toward the little oak tree to begin filling-in the bare spaces. It is the green plant just right of centre by the wall.long-flowerbed-14 At last I was beneath the tall tree growing beyond the oak and removed quite a few bulbs from there. It is the tree with two trunks in the centre of the picture.long-flowerbed-12 As I move further toward the greenhouse there are fewer bulbs left to dig out, that is bluebell bulbs for there are other plants growing in the general area which I am thinking of digging out too. Here is a picture of the area…long-flowerbed-13

In the spot just to the right of the green wheelie bin there remains a few more bluebell bulbs to remove as I write this late Wednesday afternoon and the right half of the picture shows the ground riddled with montbretia plants and some iris’s nearer to the large sycamore trunk at the top of the picture on the right. The iris’s haven’t as yet poked their way out of the soil but they are there. I have decided to remove all the montbretia when I get the time and perhaps the iris’s if I’ve a mind to. By the time I had finished the work for the day and tidied up it was twelve-thirty. I had been working over four and a half hours without a break. I have reached that point whereby the wheelie bins need emptying but that won’t be until the beginning of March. I will have to resort to bags for temporary storage in the meantime. I said there would be thousands of bulbs and if I said five or six thousand I guess I wouldn’t be far off. I’ll be glad if I never see another bluebell or montbretia plant. I’ve had enough of them. I treated myself to another pub lunch to round-off the working day.

Shirley Anne

Another two hours

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The Off Hours

The Off Hours (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I had been rather busy last week with little opportunity to get out into the garden though I wasn’t that eager to get into the garden anyway. I knew I had to break that reluctance so on Monday morning and having nothing else to do I decided to do some more digging out of bluebell bulbs. I had reached that point in the flowerbed where the amounts of bulbs remaining are less in number though some would be difficult to remove because of the greater number of tree roots. It has been a long and laborious task and it isn’t finished yet. I managed to put in two more hours by which time I’d had enough. Most of that time was spent on my knees bent over and digging deep and I must have removed a couple of hundred bulbs yet again together with many fine roots. I also dug out the little small-leaved holly I had intended to remove as it was surplus to requirements for I plan to fill the flowerbed’s empty spaces with shrubs at some point in the near future. Although I have spent many hours digging out bulbs I knew there would always be some that I had missed. When I looked over those areas I had already worked in removing bulbs I noticed more had shown themselves through the soil, about six of them. They will be removed the next time I am in the garden, probably Tuesday as I write this on Monday afternoon or maybe in a day or so. I spent a few minutes walking around the garden later on to take note where there are other bulbs requiring removal, and there are quite a few. This is why it is best to allow the bulbs to sprout above the soil level so they are easy to spot. One of the flowerbeds in the front garden had a few bluebell bulbs needing removal a few weeks ago and I duly removed them but now I see there are more popping up in a couple of places! It would appear I am going to have a lot more work to do yet before we are rid of them.

Shirley Anne

Bloomin’ bluebells!

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It has been a few days since I did any more work in removing the bluebell bulbs and now growing plants in the rear garden. I had reached a spot just up to the little oak tree and there remained the area to its right and beyond though thankfully there seem to be only a few there. I have dug out around a dozen bulbs in the front right-hand flowerbed that had escaped filtering last year when I renovated the bed but as I write this I notice a few more beginning to show themselves. I am letting them grow just a little more so that I can locate them more easily when I dig them out within the next couple of days or weeks. Back to the rear garden though and here is the oak tree and the area beneath it and up to the stone markers I have placed in the soil which is now filtered. No doubt I will have missed some, hopefully few,long-flowerbed-9

I am thinking of moving or removing altogether the little small-leaved holly at the rear by the wall and just to the right of those markers. There is another one further along and to its right beyond the edge of the picture. I spent three hours on Sunday morning to reach this point. I have raised the supporting bamboo pole that supports the variegated holly shown in the next picture and it is now standing upright when once it lay at 45 degrees. It had been struggling to  reach daylight because of the trees that were there surrounding it. I removed those trees last year as a prelude to the current work of clearing out the flowerbed. Toward the other end of the bed in this picture is another variegated holly which had been suffering a similar fate until I cleared around it and gave it the support it needed. As you can see it is thriving and it is upright.long-flowerbed-8

It may be a day or two before I can resume working in the garden but at least much has been done and the majority of the bulbs have been removed through hard work and perseverance. As always,click on the pictures to magnify.

Shirley Anne

Might find the time

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I think I worked pretty hard on Saturday in working in the garden and was glad for the rest on Sunday. Sunday was an ideal day for working outdoors too but it is a rest day for me. Wanting to resume work on Monday the forecast wasn’t promising in the least for it would be raining throughout the day. I am actually writing this on Monday morning and true to the forecast it is raining. We are told there might be  a break for an hour or so around midday but I doubt I’ll be able to do much if I decide to make the attempt. What I might do is rake off as much top soil as I can so that there will be less of it to dig out to get to the bluebell bulbs I want removing. To give you an idea of how many there are here is a picture taken last year when they were in flower…g-6

As you can see they are numerous. Fortunately about half of them are now removed. Those which remain as I write occupy the area approximately to the right of a projected line from the right-hand side of the path that runs from the bottom of the picture to the top. There might be a few to remove on the extreme right (in the corner plot) though E may have already done that last year. If not I will probably wait for them to appear above the soil to make it easier for myself. You will be able to see more clearly by clicking on the image to magnify. As I write this the forecast for tomorrow (Tuesday) is slightly better, though it will rain. Wednesday and Friday will supposedly be dry. By the end of the week we will be almost one-third of the way through winter but the next two months are usually the worst! I may find the time to get things done or I may not. I am at the mercy of the English weather. I will be available for electrical work once more from Wednesday onward so that may limit my spare time too.

Shirley Anne

Rivalry, competition and rest

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I finally got up early on Wednesday after a few days of getting up so late I’d missed breakfast. It was a classical ‘cold and frosty morning’ with some thin fog hanging about but the day turned out sunny throughout. It was cold though and barely above zero degrees (Celsius) and in fact it never rose above three. I watched the blackbirds foraging for food around the spot I had left some grounded up nuts and monkey nuts (in their shells) for both birds and squirrels. At least my plant pots still had their loose bark on top intact after I had placed some sticks into them to prevent the birds from landing upon them. They had been tossing the bark all over the place beforehand. Still, they had shifted some leaves in the borders and on to the path in their rummaging for insects. The nuts I had left for the squirrels had all disappeared so I grabbed a handful and went into the garden and put them in the same spot. There was no sign of a squirrel during the time I watched from indoors but one then two magpies came down and started to sample the nuts. They had to break the shells first but that seemed to come naturally to them. I decided to return to the garden with a handful of loose seeds and spread them around whilst chasing off the magpies with their bounty. There were still enough nuts left for the squirrels should they put in an appearance. I returned again indoors and waited to see what would happen. It took some time but finally the blackbirds returned and ate their fill of seeds whilst a squirrel, probably the same one I have seen a few times recently, appeared and began eating the nuts before burying a few here and there in the border. The magpies didn’t return but a few jays or jackdaws came down to eat the seeds. They however left the nuts alone. I supposed they didn’t know there were nuts inside the shells or they were too lazy to try to break them open. The competition and rivalry can be intense when the weather is cold and the food is scarce. That’s why we like to put food out for them when the weather is cold. We haven’t used the bird table recently because of the high winds we’ve had. I want to make a slight alteration to the table in order to keep the larger birds from using it. They will be able to feed on the ground. Later in the day I watched the antics of the squirrel for quite some time as it wandered around.

Nuts (film)

Nuts (film) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Just after breakfast I received a call from a regular customer asking if I could investigate a faulty floodlight. She wasn’t sure if I was back at work after the holiday but I told her I was taking a three-week break. nevertheless I agreed to look at the problem on Friday to fall in-line with her schedule. So much for a three-week break, it’s nuts I tell you, nuts! Later I had just finished lunch when our next-door neighbour rang asking if I could repair a faulty hinge on her chest freezer. I was there five minutes later with my toolbox. A hinge pin had simply worked its way out so it was an easy thing to put it back. When I returned home I made myself a coffee and what do you know, the squirrel was back again and running about all over the place. By now it was getting slightly foggy again as the sun sank behind the houses. It had turned colder too.

Shirley Anne