A dull Wednesday and a little chilly in the morning didn’t prevent me from taking my walk. About half-way along the seafront however I decided to turn inland in order to get out of the wind. It wasn’t blowing strong but I was simply fed-up of it constantly in my face. When I arrived back home E was eating breakfast and I joined her. I did little else for the remainder of the morning but after lunch I told E I was going to do some gardening, specifically to uproot the chrysanthemum or ‘mum’ from one of the little flower beds on the patio. The one shown in the picture taken last summer. Also in the picture are a couple of beetroot plants which have long since been removed. The ‘mums’ itself had taken over the space where they had been but we decided it was too large for the flowerbed. I may decide to place stones or pebbles in the bed to cover the soil and surround the palm tree there and do the same in the other small bed up there.
So where did we plant the mums as we didn’t want to throw them away? Since removing the plum trees there was now plenty of space on the mound where they could be replanted so that’s what we did. I say ‘we’ because I had asked E to tell me where she would like them planted. Whilst out there in the same area we did some pruning and tidying up too. Then ‘hawkeye’ better known as E had spotted a couple of bluebells so I dug them out. We moved up the garden to the greenhouse and E spotted more bluebells which I duly removed. At every step along the way more bluebells were spotted and I spent quite some time digging them out. I wouldn’t mind so much but it had only been two days since I last dug bluebells from the borders! That is how persistent they are. Even so what bluebells remain are only a fraction of what used to grow in the garden. It made a pleasant change to have company in the garden. E doesn’t do much gardening these days but when she does she tends to find all sorts of extra things for me to do!
Usually a heading like that would indicate a finishing process, something coming to an end but in this case it is the other way round. I am beginning to get more things done (outside) after the last few weeks of wondering if I could because of the poor weather. It is Monday 11 th February as I write this. I had a really good night’s sleep and was ready for my morning walk. Deliberately skipping breakfast I was out the door just after eight-thirty-five. It was a sunny day though still a little cold at seven degrees but there was little or no wind. By the time I had returned home I was beginning to feel too warm in my winter clothing. E had long since finished her breakfast and was at the top of the house in her workshop. I grabbed a small bowl of porridge with fruit to stem my hunger until it was time for lunch. I had plans to get out in the garden whilst the sun was shining. After lunch I put on my overalls and went into the garage to begin filling a bucket with the pebbles stored there. They had been purchased last year for filling in the lawn feature I had constructed around October.
Although it looks full in the picture taken late last year it wasn’t completely filled. The job was to place another layer of pebbles over the whole area. Two large bags had been delivered on top of a wooden pallet and at my request had been placed just inside the garage to one side. There was enough space to allow my van to be parked but not really enough space to walk past with the van in there. I couldn’t move the pallet because of the weight on top of it. When I placed the first layer of pebbles on the feature I thought most of the pebbles would get used but far from it. Today as I write I have completely emptied one of the bags a bucket at a time and was able to pull the other bag off the pallet. The second bag, in fact both of the bags had been partially emptied during the initial filling of the feature so it wasn’t as difficult to shift with a little effort. I was able to remove the pallet and move the remaining bag of pebbles more to one side leaving plenty of space to walk past. I am now left with one bag two-thirds filled with pebbles which will be used elsewhere in the days ahead. Before returning indoors I hosed the feature to wash the new covering of pebbles. Now it looks as though I’ve done nothing as they appear as they did before I started…….but I know different.
Quite often in this blog I have mentioned my age. Some people are a little sensitive when it comes to revealing how old they are but I have never had any qualms about such things. What is age anyway? As a date on the calendar age is meaningless but in life it certainly affects us all. If you don’t already know I am 73 years old, born in November 1945. Many folk my age show their age and have done for some time whilst others sadly never made it to 73. Others yet again are as fit as fiddles as the saying goes. Although I pride myself in my physical fitness naturally there are times when I really feel my age. There is no way I can do as much as I once could these days and some things really do take it out of me. Over the last four days I have done very little in the way of physical activity or work, in fact I have done no work at all due my muscular pain in my buttocks and lower back. I needed to rest. This morning however I decided to make some tentative progress in the removal of the damson/plum tree stumps in The Mound. Before Christmas I had lopped off the tops leaving around a metre and a half standing. You can see four of them in the first picture. The second picture shows the remains of the one I cut down.
I wanted to take them down to soil level then later dig out the stumps and main roots. It isn’t an easy job even for the professional. I took a saw and an axe to make a start on the first of the five left standing. There are a couple of smaller ones there too but they may be less difficult to remove. The outer layers of the trees are soft and white and are easy to cut into but the core is a different matter, it is much harder and red in colour. It took me ages to cut it down and I was exhausted doing it, so much so I stopped once it was done. The trunk itself was quite heavy too as I discovered when moving it across the garden. I am seriously thinking of giving the work to someone else, someone with a chainsaw! If I can get them all to ground level I may be able to drill them and treat the stumps with a herbicide to kill them off.
‘I’m sorry Shirley Anne but it’s just got to go’, I told myself on Thursday morning. It was a very miserable day on Thursday just as it had been a couple of days earlier, wet and windy, very windy. I had gone to bed the evening before feeling rather down and tired and hoped the new day would be an improvement but it wasn’t. I was feeling a little down because I was tired and some of the events in the day had given me some irritation. It had been one of those days as we say. So Thursday promised better things but it didn’t fare that way for me. In the first place I woke up with a horrible bout of Cystitis and all that comes with it. I have an interim solution for Cystitis which helps until I can get some medication if I haven’t any to hand but it only helps soothe the burning sensation and kill the surface bacteria. It was enough to allow me relief until I went shopping later. However, back to the foul weather. No matter what I tried to hold down the tunnel structure over the patio the wind loosened it and I would have to try something else. There was no way I would get the upper hand and I knew it. When the weather is less windy all is fine but the wind destroys and shows no mercy. Did I mention I hate the wind? Well I do. So what’s got to go? The tunnel. As soon as the weather would allow I would be out there removing it and mark it down as a failure. What would take its place? Well I mentioned that I think in yesterday’s post. Two tee-pees or wigwams if you prefer would replace the one tunnel and should hopefully withstand the wind better. Oh the joys of gardening eh? I did no work on Thursday for not only did I have nether regions problems but I was feeling the effects of maybe a cold but definitely the bad weather.
Wednesday was my walk day and it started off well. It was the end of November (28), more than two-thirds of the way through Autumn and the weather had become noticeably much colder during the preceding week. This morning was no different but at least it was dry but not for long! It had rained the previous evening and into the night but had stopped until twenty minutes into my walk. It wasn’t the rain which bothered me but the wind driving it. Although I enjoyed the walk I was very glad to be back home. I hadn’t taken the route back along the seafront because of the driving wind knowing there would be no shelter from it. I walked home through the back streets instead. As I approached the top end of our road a fox ran across my path and over a wall to my right where there is a large plot of land filled with trees and undergrowth, an ideal place for foxes to live. It is unlikely to be built upon because of its location, the age of the trees and because it stands in the grounds of an apartment block. I carried on homeward to the warmth and breakfast. After some catch-up tv I decided to put on my overalls and get ready to resume working in the cellar. I wasn’t able to do much at first in case I disturbed E from her sleep for I had much sawing to do. I was going to begin cutting and fitting the plywood panels for there was no plasterboard left to finish off the ceiling and I couldn’t leave the house to purchase any. I was expecting the delivery of the pebbles and E had to go out too. As it happened the pebbles were delivered around ten-thirty but the guy had a lot of trouble trying to manoeuvre the pallet truck to get the pallet out of the wagon. Eventually he mustered the help of another delivery driver who just happened to to be making a delivery further up the road. Up until that point I had done very little work but then I continued and got this far..
The far left hand panel with the white cup washers will be readily removable should access to the gate valves ever be necessary. It was whilst working down there that E took a shower in the wet room and I saw the leak from the drain above. It appears that the floor seal around the grid in the wet room had cracked. What an absolute pain! Something else for me to do. In the picture below you can just about see two black streaks running top to bottom on the grey drain housing. The picture below that one shows the frame surround beneath the drain which will have a removable inspection cover too. Just as well it seems!
Later in the afternoon it got very windy indeed and I was fearful that the tunnel on the patio would either be damaged, get blown off or both so I spent a little time out there securing it with more rope. On reflection I don’t think the idea of using the tunnel was a good one and I may simply dismantle it and erect another two tee-pees as I had done with one of the plants in the border close-by.
There’s a popular (?) tv program in the UK called ‘You’ve been framed’ whereby viewers can send in clips of mishaps they or others have had the misfortune to endure and it is broadcast for all to see. Each clip broadcast rewards the sender with £250. I was ‘framed’ if you like when I erected this with lots of help from E….
….and if it had been recorded it might have made the program! I began the work by myself but after fifteen frustrating minutes I had to enlist the help of E. As with most self-assembled units the instructions are not all that easy to follow and by me especially. I seem to have the knack of getting it wrong and then getting angry because I experience problems which if truth be known don’t actually exist! E came outside after my insistence that she wear warm clothing for it was a cold October day even though the sun was shining. In a matter of minutes she had things sorted. What I had failed to do was to recognise the numbered parts and indeed the large components were all numbered. I just hadn’t noticed and had been trying to identify them from the drawing. The drawings never seem to look like the things they are supposed to be representing do they? Perhaps a photograph would be more useful. We began the assembly, though it was only myself doing the assembling whilst E held the parts which needed supporting. Finally we ended up with the structure you see and we lifted it up to sit on the patio walls. I had to add some supports to the frame where it overhangs the patio deck by using two lengths of plastic pipe secured using ‘Jubilee clips’. When it is time we shall be putting the plastic covering over it to protect the plants in the raised bed from severe wind and frost during the colder months.
Before the cover goes on I shall be fitting some eye bolts on the walls to secure it using the tie ropes supplied. Its actual purpose is a growing tunnel but it will be equally as good in the use we make of it.
Do you find yourself discovering a way to do something but later on find out there might have been a better way to do it? During my experiences in the electrical industry that was often the case for me. I have to say though after years of working in the industry the better way to do things came naturally, well for most of the time. Last winter we had some really nasty weather for a couple of weeks and some of the garden plants suffered as a result. I was therefore determined to find a better solution or an easier way of implementing the precautions I had taken at that time. The plants which suffered were those where the protection I had provided had come adrift. During the year I have been giving much consideration in regards to finding that easier solution. I had fixed some anchoring points by which to secure the protection around the two small beds on the patio but they were the easy ones to protect. One is shown below and the plant at risk from frost damage is the fan palm.
The longer of the three beds shown below is the one most difficult to protect as wrapping the two fan palms isn’t as easy at it sounds especially if the older leaves are to be protected from wind damage too.
I had purchased some bubble wrap and bamboo canes earlier this year and was going to use them to construct a makeshift frame to cover the whole bed but having given that idea much thought since then I think I have come up with a better idea, I decided to purchase a walk-in ‘tunnel’ to place over the top of the bed. Designed for use as an alternative to a greenhouse for growing certain plants under cover the tunnel would be the ideal solution and probably much sturdier. As the one I have purchased is two metres in width it will overhang the bed on the inside and make access to the bed possible if required. Of course it will need support beneath the overhang and some fixing points with which to tie it down.
As far as the bubble wrap and canes are concerned they will still be used in the bed adjacent to the patio as planned.
In yesterday’s post when writing about the work I did on the utility room project I mentioned that I would paint the floor today, Saturday the 20 th. I must confess to that being a little fib though at the time I wrote it was true. What happened was late in the afternoon I called next door to give my neighbour a loaf of bread as she had asked if we had some. My neighbour is house-bound because of her condition and her son was away at work. We chatted about things and she was asking if I had been busy so I told her about the project. An hour later I began to think about the painting of the floor, well that part on which I would be working the next day. The painting takes minutes, the drying takes a few hours but the fumes linger for a very long time especially as there is little or no ventilation down in that room. If I were to paint it on Saturday I wouldn’t be able to do anything else that day and I wanted to get on with the work. With that in mind I painted the floor on my return home.
Having done that I was able to continue the next day and install the third cabinet and also move the old freezer.
I then moved the other smaller freezer to the spot where the old one had stood, though it will be moved away from the wall whilst I paint the wall and floor there. That left the rest of the floor clear and ready to be worked on later. Before I did all that work and also paint the floor the previous afternoon I lifted up the remaining pieces of carpet, cut them into smaller pieces so I could dispose of them in the wheelie bin. The carpet had been fine whilst lying on the floor but the rubber backing had deteriorated over the years and was left on the floor as the carpet was lifted,
I finished the work for that day by 1 o’clock and rested but during the afternoon I noticed that the membrane I had laid in the lawn feature had a couple of holes in it. It could only be the squirrels whom we’ve seen on the lawn at times digging little holes either to bury food or to dig for worms! I decided to cover over the area with a robust plastic netting until we finally get delivery of the pebbles (see recent posts).
I have just finished the next stage of the garden project which leaves me just three things left to do. Today as I write on 28 th September I have laid the membrane and set in the perimeter of it with concrete.
The cobbles dotted around are there temporarily to hold down the overlapping joints of the membrane which comes in a roll one metre in width. The next stage will be to lay some cobbles through the plot to form stepping stones but I will have to cut the membrane along the proposed route to remove a little of the soil beneath. I will then lay concrete in the bottom and set the cobbles in it. The concrete will also re-seal the gap in the membrane at the same time. The final stage will be to fill the area with pebbles and stones then clean the perimeter cobbles.
Following on from yesterday’s post where I had gotten outside at five am to remove the remaining turf from the new plot I rested a short while before driving to the supermarket for the weekly shopping. On my return E rose from her slumber and came downstairs for breakfast by which time I had packed all the food away. I sat with her and ate something myself as my breakfast had been almost six hours earlier. We are like ships passing in the night, she likes to stay up late and rise late whereas I like to retire early and rise early. Anyway an hour after eating I returned to the garden project and E came outside to help decide which of the plants went where. She returned indoors to her workshop and I planted the shrubs….
There are only five but that is because they grow outward as well as upward and much of the space will eventually be covered. The two on the right at the back (or nearest the path on the right) grow to a height of around two and a half to three metres with a two metres spread unless they are pruned of course. The two on the left either side of the dwarf conifer grow to around a metre and a half with a similar spread. The conifer mainly grows upward with only a little spread. As there is only around 250 mm of topsoil before the sand beneath is reached I had to dig wide and deep to remove some of the sand before refilling the hole with about a metre of soil and compost for each of the plants. That was stage four completed. There will be more to follow before it is completed.