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….
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.
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.
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…..
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!
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!
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..
…..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…..
…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…
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?
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.
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,
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.
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.
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…
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.
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) (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.
Changing her mind of course! Following on from yesterday's post where I talked about buying plants for the flowerbed I have been working on I had a change of heart regarding their purchase. It was such a lovely morning on Saturday, full sunshine all the way, a time for being outdoors. I was going to put off purchasing the plants for a few days until I had more funds but with £150 in my purse I decided to drive to the garden centre and make the purchase. I spent only £113 and bought fourteen plants. They only filled part of the bed and I will need at least the same quantity, though not all of the same variety, to fill out the front half of the bed. I hope you can see the new plants clearly enough in this picture..
The tallest shrub and that which will be the tallest once it reaches its maximum height I planted at the end of the bed next to the now bare rhubarb patch on the right. It is an ‘Osmanthus‘ that flowers in mid-late Spring with small white blooms. It can grow to three metres in height. There are two Coral Bells, one at each end of the bed at the front, the other eleven plants are all planted along the rear of the bed. They are five different Azaleas, four ‘Leucothoe Axillaris’ (two Red lips and two Zeblid varieties) and two ‘Golden Arbur-vitae’ or small conifers. Much of the front of the bed still needs to be filled but I have yet to purchase those plants. The two flowering ‘Mums’ in the centre may be moved later once they die back. The bed is a little over twenty-four feet (eight metres) long from the rhubarb patch to the large stones at the other end. Each of the paving slabs is two foot wide. That is a lot of space to fill with plants. I will probably fill it within the next few days if the weather permits.
Scuffin’ Those Knees (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Okay, I ran out of titles……..I continued with the work on the flowerbed on Tuesday morning but all I had to do was to mix some smooth concrete and fill-in the spaces between the stone slabs and rocks. Still it took me almost two hours to mix the concrete, use it and then tidy everything away but I wasn’t in a hurry. All the work meant spending more time on my knees (hence the title). I didn’t use the gardening kneeling stool but a thick cushion directly on the ground or rather the pathway. It meant I could get closer to the ground than if I had used the stool. Most of the concrete was placed using just my gloved hand as using a tool would have been awkward. It was another dry day which turned into a blue sky day with lots of sunshine. After lunch I even sat out on the patio for an hour it was so nice. I spent some time thinking about which plants to buy with which to populate the flowerbed. At the time of writing I haven’t as yet made up my mind. These days one can plant at any time of year within reason for the plants are potted so the roots don’t get disturbed. Protection from frost is the most important thing to consider especially if the plants are not yet established. According to the weather forecast we will experience cold nights from now on. As I live on the coast the temperature is likely to be a little above freezing. Of course it does get colder sometimes. Tomorrow as write this I have a dental appointment just before lunch so I won’t have time for work. I might browse the garden centre for plants instead. I will post another picture after I have planted any plants I may purchase in the meantime.
Reading that title you might be forgiven for thinking that Shirley Anne has been praying. Well I do pray every day but I am hardly ever on my knees doing it, no, I have been doing more work in and on the greenhouse flowerbed whilst the weather is remaining dry. It was a cooler day on Monday but all I wore beneath my overalls was a thin cap-sleeved top and although the early morning temperature was only 10 deg C. I wasn’t cold because there was hardly any wind. Once I begin to work I soon warm-up anyway so much so that later in the morning I had my overalls tied-off at the waist and not covering my upper body. It didn’t get warmer than 14 deg C throughout the day but I wasn’t cold in the least. I prefer cooler temperatures anyway. So I spent most of the day until three o’clock practically on my knees. I had begun work around eight-fifteen by putting the remaining seven stone slabs along that part of the rear of the bed where they could be placed, which was up to the large greenhouse. Once they were in place I began to remove all the weeds and those small flowering plants we wished to keep, though I didn’t replant them in the same part of the bed. I actually planted them all later in the afternoon at the far end of the bed under the holly tree among the large natural stones I had placed there. I also planted them closely packed because I wanted them to fill the area with colour. Here are the same plants in bloom when they were originally planted in the bed.
Now I am hoping all that colour will be concentrated at the far end of the bed. Having them close together will deter weeds too. I also spread more topsoil over the whole bed using the soil I had removed from the ‘Plot’ and had stored in the white bag I spoke about in recent posts.The bare spaces now have to be filled with new plants and I plan to have evergreen plants there when I get around to buying them. On Tuesday I planned to mix concrete to fill in all the spaces between the stone slabs as before. A neighbour living two doors away, our new neighbours to be precise, had tree surgeons in their rear garden all day long. Some trees were being cut down and others were being pollarded. That meant chain saws and chipping machines being used all day long. I got used to the noise eventually!
Something had to change with the weather. Over the last few weeks October has been anything but October as far as the weather is concerned, it has been warm, dry for most of the time and sunny too. However on Friday and Saturday it became noticeably dull and damp. I have been working in the garden once again this time putting stone borders around a couple of flowerbeds as you have read in my recent posts. On those two days the humidity was so high the air was wet enough to create a very fine drizzle but so light it seemed to hang in space rather than drop to the ground. I wore overalls which kept me dry enough for the couple of hours I was outside. Most of the time I was on my knees on a garden kneeling stool as I dug out the soil to insert the stone slabs. As I write this on Saturday afternoon the work isn’t completed but there is no hurry. All the stone has been set in place at the front of the flowerbed I have been working on but the rear of the bed to the right of the larger greenhouse has yet to be done and then I have to fill in the gaps with a concrete mix as I have done elsewhere. I could have continued into the afternoon but I wanted a break from it. The small part of the bed on the extreme right of the bed contains rhubarb corms and was surrounded with stone about two years ago. When I took the photo of the flowerbed I took one of the right-hand end of the longest bed in the garden and now I am thinking of putting a stone edging there too. The part of this bed where the wall is exposed needs more plants to populate it though the plants already there will grow and fill out most of the space which now looks a little bare. The small tree on the right of that space is an oak tree and beneath it are the last few bluebell bulbs waiting to sprout in Spring and I am waiting to dig them out as E and I did with the others around the garden. Nice as bluebells are they spread all over the place and get out of hand if left alone. It might be a laborious prospect digging them out but it is the only sure way of getting them out. Already I am planning what to do next year!
Click on images to magnify or zoom in.
In my previous post I mentioned I had purchased some natural stone for edging a flowerbed. They were to deliver the goods the following morning so I made it my business to get up early just in case they arrived early too. It was fortunate that I did that for indeed they did arrive early. My delivery had in fact been the last on the route so I can’t imagine how early the others had been delivered. Mine had been at 8.20. I helped the guy place the twenty lengths of stone in the garage and then returned indoors. I returned outside an hour later and my first task was to yet again clear up some leaves. I had in fact cleared many the day before using the vacuum/shredder but now these were wet after the overnight rain we’d had so I elected to use a broom and shovel instead. It was quite tiring work because the humidity was high and so was the temperature for the time of year. No wind was blowing either just to add to the discomfort. I then wheeled the bin into the front garden where the other bin stood. They were both almost filled to the top but I had a tall rose plant that needed pruning back and wanted to put the cuttings into the bins too. Somehow I got them in with further cutting and pressing them down. Funny how rose thorns still manage to prick fingers protected by gloves! Both wheelie bins were now completely filled and would be emptied the following Monday. I knew that at least one of them would end up full almost immediately afterward as there were still leaves lying about when they had been full and the trees had not shed all of their leaves either. I took a break and went inside for a coffee returning a little later to transport the stone from the garage and place it alongside the flowerbed.. It was now lunchtime so I went indoors again. Whether I continued with the work on Friday will be revealed in the next post.
Wanting to do things yet wanting to rest too wrestled in my thoughts but in the end I gave in to the idea of doing some more work in the garden. It just isn’t me to do nothing. Once again I received a request for my electrical services on Thursday afternoon, which I promptly did. I arose a little later than normal but only a half-hour or so and immediately after breakfast drove off to a centre which sells gardening and building materials such as ornate paving stones and slabs, fencing materials and numerous other things for outdoor projects. I had decided to purchase some lengths of natural stone which is used for capping brick walls in gardens and elsewhere. However, I wasn’t buying it for that application, I was buying it to use as edging stone for the flowerbed that runs in front of the greenhouses as I have decided to spruce it up. We are forever digging out weeds because there is insufficient ground coverage by the existing plants and some of those plants are really too small anyway. The bed really needs populating with more evergreen shrubs, especially flowering types to make it more attractive throughout the year. It gets plenty of sunshine which at the moment I feel is a little wasted on the bed if suitable plants are not there to take advantage. The existing small plants do create a splash of colour but it doesn’t last and as I said they don’t prevent the weeds from taking over. This is what it looked like about five years ago.
Since then it has become a little bit of an eyesore. The new stone will run alongside the edge of the paving slabs though not completely to the left where larger stones will be placed to create a bit of a feature. The rear of the bed which is exposed in front of the small greenhouse will also have edging stone fitted then I propose to raise the level of the soil using that soil which is stored at present in the large white bag shown in previous recent posts. Doing that will also enable me to get at the buttress I mentioned the lower half of which I propose to render with concrete. I arrived at the garden centre to see what was available and they had exactly what I needed but only just the right amount! I arranged for them to deliver it on Friday morning as it would be too heavy to carry it in my van especially as the van was full of my own stock. The small electrical job covered half the cost of the stone so I was pleased about that. Maybe I’ll get another to cover the balance!
After breakfast on Tuesday I went into the garage and mixed the concrete I would be using to fill in between the newly positioned stone surround in the little plot and then I set about doing it. It took less than an hour…. Compare with yesterday’s picture. I use a smooth concrete mix when I fill in the gaps between natural stone used in these circumstances as it is more solid. I have found that a mortar mix is too soft. I use sand, granite dust and cement to make the ‘smooth’ concrete, the same mixture I use when laying a pathway or filling in larger areas as I had done when doing the work in the Plot a few weeks ago. There was a little of the mix remaining so I used it to reset a brick in the bottom of the buttress which was completely loose. You can see it centre-right in the picture near the wheel on the wheelie bin. The buttress itself needs repairing as I mentioned in yesterday’s post but I had almost no cement left. I intend to render the lower part, which is where the repairs need to be done, using the same concrete mix. I have the sand and the granite dust but I need a bag of cement to do it. In any case I will need to move the large white bag which stands on the path immediately to the right of the buttress so that the right-hand-side of the buttress can be rendered too. That bag has around a ton of soil in it! I may have to resort to moving the soil within the bag a little, just enough to access the wall. I certainly don’t want to move it all in the knowledge that it would have to be returned to the same place later. I would like to fit a stone edging to the long flowerbed which runs in front of the two greenhouses and in which stands the apple trees. At the far end of the bed stands a large holly tree too. The only thing preventing me from doing that job is the lack of stone! Despite the amount of stone we had rescued from burial in The Mound a couple of years ago there isn’t enough of a suitable size left, though much still remains. I will have to see what I can do, if anything, with what is left, maybe adding to it or buying something completely different.