A gardener’s life is a constant battle with weeds or should I say wild flowers or wild plants. I’m good at laying out gardens placing plants in them and then looking after them but I get a little frustrated when each time I go into the garden I end up picking out weeds. They grow absolutely everywhere don’t they? Short of plucking them out or maybe spraying them if they are not close to wanted plants there is little else that can be done. Some weeds behave themselves and are easily controlled whilst others can be very difficult if not impossible to eradicate. I’m no gardener in a professional sense and probably only an average amateur but I do know how much hard work is necessary for the upkeep of a garden especially if the garden is larger than the average. We have two gardens at home, one front and one in the rear and both are reasonably large in area though the front garden has less planting area and is also the smaller of the two. Although it is smaller it has the greater weed problem both by variety and volume. However I have to admit that a large part of the front garden namely what I call the front mound where the flag pole stands has been deliberately left to grow a little wild. It is covered in rocks with a few bushes in it so it looks natural and wild. There are some weeds I pluck out and some I leave but the problem is the ones I leave like spreading themselves all over the place and indeed that is how they grow by blanketing the ground. During the summer one of them has tiny pink/purple flowers which attract bees and other pollinators…see above. Below is the same plant as it was on Saturday now with less flowers.
It is I admit quite attractive but it does grow anywhere it finds a foothold, on the walls, in cracks in the concrete, and just about anywhere else. We call it Southport Weed for it is prolific here. On Saturday (25 th) I lifted so much of it that I had left growing on top of the raised white gravel area behind the plants in the front garden it half-filled the wheelie bin. it had almost covered the gravel completely.
Despite the amount there it was fairly easy to lift as it puts roots down in one spot and spreads from there though there were a few spots where it had done so. I sprayed the area afterward with a herbicide. Unfortunately the herbicide has a limited effect and I know the weed will return, it always does. In the flower borders other small weeds constantly appear and if left they too pop up all over the place. There must be thousands of invisible seeds waiting to germinate just to annoy me! Who said gardening was easy?
For some weeks now we have been enjoying dry and warm weather and I have been able to go for walks wearing the lightest of clothing. This morning (13 th) I was up and out of the house at seven doing just that. I arrived back home two hours later and was able to sit at the table with E for breakfast. She had only just gotten up as I entered the front door. Anyway I sat out on the patio after breakfast relaxing with a cup of coffee for a short time but I knew I had things to do so that didn’t last. The first thing I wanted to do was to erect some sort of temporary barrier to block a gap in the Laurel bushes to stem the wind so that the space could fill naturally with new leaf growth. New growth is already there but shielding it from the wind will encourage it to grow quicker….
I used some of the fire-clay floor tiles which I had removed from the gym room when I dug the pit a couple of months ago and propped them up with bricks though they were capable of standing unsupported. That little job didn’t take long and I went on to do the next which took far longer. The rear door frame of the garage in which I keep my van had become rotten on one side at the bottom. We suspected a mouse had recently been trying to gnaw its way though the rotting timber of the frame because there were a lot of .wood chippings around. I had to remove the door, which is very heavy, in order to saw off the rotted timber. I made the cut at an angle and manufactured a replacement section to match. This was to prevent the ingress of rain. A level cut would have allowed water to seep between the joint. This is the finished work before it was painted the following day. I had treated the timbers with preserver before fitting it.
I re-hung the door but left off the automatic closer to prevent the door closing by itself as it once did. Sometimes ‘auto-closers’ can be a nuisance. It was twelve-thirty and E made me a cup of coffee which I again sat and drank on the patio before returning indoors within the hour for lunch. The afternoon was mine to do as I pleased, which was almost nothing! I did take a walk around the garden though and took some photos as I went. In front of the large greenhouse…
The dreaded Ivy. It makes deciduous trees look like evergreen trees in the Winter and chokes them during the Summer.
The picture above shows a close-up of a neighbour’s ivy-covered tree which stands less than a metre from the garden boundary wall. You can see it on the right in this older photograph. It isn’t the only one with an ivy problem either but it is the one which stands closest to our garden wall.
This tree itself is a bit of a nuisance for it constantly sheds twigs and small branches whenever there is a strong wind and we are forever picking them off the lawn. Naturally it sheds its leaves in Autumn too but that is something we expect so clearing away the leaves isn’t a problem. However the ivy that clings to its trunk and branches is an added problem we could do without. At the moment it is shedding leaves and has been doing for several weeks. I suppose it is part of its normal cycle but even so I have had to sweep up leaves every couple of days to keep the garden tidy. The worst part of having ivy is that it likes clinging to things and isn’t fussy what things it clings to. A couple of years ago another neighbour had ivy spread over into her garden from the same garden where the tree I write about stands. At that time we too had to deal with it and rebuild part of the garden wall in the process. All I can do is to try to keep the ivy from spreading over into our garden. If it were my responsibility I would eradicate it wherever I saw it growing in my garden. On Wednesday (30) I did just that, well part of it. I leaned over the wall and cut it back. The bare patch on the tree in the top picture is the result. I cut the ivy in several places which should stem its growth for a while. It would be nice if our neighbours would take more of an interest but they don’t. Personally E and I think they can’t cope with their large garden and simply lose interest in the more out-of-the-way or out-of-sight spots in it.
It was Thursday morning and I had the unenviable task of doing the weekly shopping once again. E had been taking things easy for the past few weeks in order to recuperate but had in fact driven herself and her mom into town yesterday. Maybe next week she will resume doing the shopping but if not it will be down to me again. Actually next Thursday (31) I have a dental appointment late morning so will have to shop early if it falls to me to do the shopping. I digress. Today therefore I went shopping early and about an hour after returning home first went into the front garden to water it with the hose then I got out the larger watering can in order to apply a weed-killer/lawn feed mixture onto the lawn in the rear garden. Last year after doing exactly the same the lawn looked much better having been rid of the weeds and moss. It took about six cans to cover the lawn and not long after I had finished I could see it taking effect as the moss began to turn black. Having already mentioned to E that I would like to leave the house together for a few hours she went to dress whilst I was doing the lawn treatment. I had left the van on the driveway on my return from the supermarket rather than putting it in the garage as I would normally do for I was determined to go out for the afternoon. We drove down to the pub/restaurant about two miles away and had a meal there. It is a well-known local eatery offering a set meal or something from the carvery.
We chose the carvery as most people would do dining there. One thing you can say about a carvery is its value for money, as many vegetables as you can eat together with your choice of meats and a one-off payment (£2) for an unlimited amount of soft drinks of choice add to accompany it. We paid a mere £19 for two with drinks included. After the meal we drove off to the garden centre and browsed for more plants to put in the gardens. This time we purchased Verburnum Davidii (a large shrub), Lewisia, Diascia, Weigela Foliis Purpureis, Jacobinia, Oxalis and Alstroemeria (smaller shrubs and plants).
I name them for the botanists and gardeners who may be reading. We planted them immediately upon returning home late in the afternoon. Three went into the front garden beds and the remaining seven into the rear garden beds. I think the only other planting out will be the beetroot presently growing in pots in the greenhouse and we plan to put them among the plants in the flowerbeds in the near future. The last task of the day was to water the rear garden plants with the hose. Overnight and throughout the whole day tomorrow, Friday, we have been informed to expect heavy rain. For a few days after we are told it will get very warm and dry.
It was a dull but warm day on Sunday (20). I had gotten up reasonably early for I wanted to water the plants in the front garden. I have often neglected the front garden in that respect and know I shouldn’t. In the rear garden we have a hose permanently affixed to the tap so it is easy just to run it out when watering the plants there, whereas in the front garden we don’t.
We have another tap in the front garden but of course we don’t leave a hose attached to it in case it goes ‘walkies’. We store a hose truck in one of the garages and connect it to the tap when we need it. The truck is basically a reeled hose sat on a metal frame that has wheels on it and a handle with which to pull it along. It looks almost exactly as the one shown in the picture below. So I was out there around eight-thirty giving the plants, the whole garden, a thorough watering.
Returning indoors later for a coffee and a chat with E who had not been up long I somehow got around to talking about cakes and ended up making some more rock cakes! They are so easy to make and in the space of twenty five minutes from scratch they can be on the plate and ready for eating. It’s a treat for us as we don’t eat cakes that often, well one has to think of one’s waistline…….ahem! Nothing really happened on Sunday, it was just a dull day all round but we made the most of it and spent most of the time relaxing.
In yesterday’s post I talked about buying new plants for the gardens and some of them are in the pictures I post today.For the gardeners amongst you the top two are Ceanothus and Viburnum and have been planted in the front garden, The rest include Dwarf Pinks, Geum, Calceolaria, Saxifraga, Phlox, Aquilegia, Viola (more than one variety), Dianthus, Gypsophila Festival White, Azalea, Phylliopsis, Agapanthus and Erysimum have all been planted in the rear garden. I took this photo of the beetroot plants being nurtured in the greenhouse. They should be ready for planting out soon.
In the trays at the far top right a few melon seeds have been planted by E and some of them have begun to grow. Maybe we’ll have a few melons to eat later in the year too! This morning (15 th) I spread out the bag of tree bark chippings we had stored but it could only cover part of one bed. I shall have to purchase more this week. Apart from making the beds look much tidier it can help keep the weeds at bay and also help keep the soil from drying out in the hot sun. This morning I also gave the cellar storage room floor its second and final coat of paint. After touching up the wall paint where I have not been able to avoid splashing it in red paint the room should have returned into service by the weekend.
Monday according to the weather forecast was the first day of a week of sunny days and it certainly set the bar high. It was May 14 and it was sunny throughout the day. These are the days I take to do my outside work of course which at the moment have put my indoor jobs on hold. The cellar storage room floor needs another coat of paint, well I think two coats is better than one, and I’ve still to fit the threshold and do the gym floor too. I had set my mind to get up early and cut back overhanging branches from a neighbour’s tree so after an early breakfast I set about doing that. It wasn’t a small job for I had to saw off a few large branches and that meant I had to do it whilst standing on the garden wall.
The tree in question is standing on the other side of the wall dead-centre in the pictures above and the branches reached out almost to a position over the footpath putting all the plants below in the shade. Four of the branches I let drop into my neighbour’s garden but one I had to let drop in ours. The neighbour’s garden just over the wall I hasten to add is a jungle of brambles, weeds and fallen branches which never get cleared. Anyway we had to cut up the branches which fell on our side so later on in the morning E and I got out the machine which produces chippings and put the smaller branches through it. The larger pieces we stored in the small greenhouse together with others already there.Perhaps you can see the machine (yellow in colour) standing behind the tall holly tree in the picture above, There are branches with leaves on the path to the left and bare branches on the other path to the right. Before we did that work we drove to the garden centre to buy more plants, about a dozen of them which we planted out later in the afternoon. Two of those we planted in the front garden but the rest we planted mostly in the two flowerbeds shown in the second picture. I mowed the lawn before we started chipping the branches and before we had a late lunch. If I’ve time I will post pictures of the new plants later.
I could be writing about myself for I was often told how fast I worked and how fast I got things done. However, I did not consider myself to be a fast as was suggested though I do admit to making it seem that way! Experience cultivates a quick resolution to any problem. To us some insects seem to move with breakneck speed but from their point of view, if they had one, I suppose they would see us as lethargic creatures. Many things in nature move quickly by our standards. We all know how fast ants move about especially when disturbed and how quickly flying insects move about, so fast we cannot see them much of the time. Trying to swat a fly will remind us that we move much more slowly than they do. In the plant world there are those which takes ages to grow and those which can even be seen growing before our eyes if we have the patience to sit and watch. In extreme cases plants can grow at an enormous pace, like some species of kelp whose growth rate per day is measured in many centimetres, even up to a metre! Thank goodness it isn’t a land growing species but there are nevertheless some land-based plants which can grow very quickly too though not perhaps as fast as kelp.
The plants we often don’t think about as fast growers are some species of weeds. I was talking with E a few days ago regarding the frequency we have been digging out weeds lately. I am not talking about dandelions here though they grow fast enough, no, I am referring to the smaller weeds that are often missed when trying to eradicate them. One particular weed which I have endeavoured to identify but have not been able to seems to pop up all over the place in the flowerbeds with great frequency. It has a small cluster of ground-hugging tiny leaves out of the centre of which grows a very thin stem the top of which has tiny white flowers. They grow to about ten centimetres high I guess and are very easily plucked out of the soil as the roots are small and don’t grow far down below the surface. They are more of a nuisance to pick out than a threat to the other plants. Oh well that is what gardening is all about, growing those plants you want and removing those you don’t. As I said to E, I think it would be far easier to grow weeds than have to keep digging them out.
….and tomorrow a new month. I write this on the last day of April. It is Monday and the start of a week of unknowns. Despite not having any definite plan for the day I was very busy. I had ordered clothing, floor paint and a cordless vacuum cleaner but only one of those was scheduled for delivery that day, the vacuum cleaner. I wanted the paint delivering as soon as possible so that I could finish the cellar storage room project. As I write this I still have no idea when it will arrive. The clothing should be here within the next couple of days. There was a small amount of painting to do around the door on the inside of the store-room which was the first thing I did. Following that I went into the front garden and using a watering can and soluble plant food I fed all the plants, dug out weeds then swept the pathways. It was approaching lunchtime when that was done so I stopped work and went indoors just in time to unpack and assemble the new vacuum cleaner. I am considering purchasing another for use on the upper floors but will see how this one performs first. After lunch I made myself busy by first of all sweeping up the leaves, lots of them, from the paths in the rear garden then mowing the lawn. Next, I got out the hoe and gave the flowerbeds a make-over removing the weeds. It was late afternoon when I had finished and I spent an hour in the sunshine relaxing on the patio. When I returned indoors our next-door neighbour’s son called to update us on his mom’s condition. Late on Sunday afternoon she had been rushed to hospital with a collapsed lung and could hardly breathe. She has advanced emphysema and relies on her oxygen bottles to get through the day. The prognosis wasn’t good and the doctors thought she wouldn’t survive. Her son was calling to let us know that she had perked-up somewhat and could possibly return home. She is at death’s door and the doctors practically indicated that so even if she can return home she would need palliative care. For the moment she remains in hospital. We invited our neighbour’s son inside for a chat and he stayed awhile. That was basically my day and I was tired after it all.
In yesterday’s post I mentioned I might not be able to continue with the decorating of the room in the cellar but despite that I found I was able to, at least for a short time. I arose early, not because I wanted to start work early, I’d simply had enough sleep. It meant of course I could do some work after all knowing that E and I were supposed to be visiting the garden centre. I had been wanting to buy some extra plants for quite some time so that I could fill in areas in the main flowerbed. I also wanted to take advantage of the 20% discount on all purchases which they had offered for a few days. First though it was breakfast and soon after I got stuck in and gave the end wall of the cellar room a coat of masonry paint we had left over from previous work. In a few hours it would be dry enough to paint over with the vinyl emulsion but that didn’t happen on the day. Soon after I had painted it I went into the garden and planted out three of the shrubs which we have in pots. They were planted in the corner plot behind the greenhouse where I had planned them to go months ago but never got around to it. They are only small but in a couple of years they will grow into large bushes. I returned indoors and began painting the lower part of the ceiling and one of the walls….It was around eleven o’clock and E was ready to join me in visiting the garden centre but it was nearer twelve o’clock before we left the house. E struggled to move about because of her back problem but she made the effort. When we arrived at the centre she was able to use one of the wheelchairs they have on hand for customers who need them. They also supplied a special trolley which clipped to the wheelchair at the front and I was able to push both the chair with E in it and the trolley too. After a quick coffee we went into the garden area and browsed for some plants. We ended up purchasing eleven of them and had spent £123 after the discount. By the time we returned home it was almost two-thirty. After a bite to eat I went into the garden and arranged the plants where they were best suited and then commenced planting them.Obviously I won’t point them out but they are amongst those we had there already. A couple of them had to be planted elsewhere, one at the other end of the same bed, one in another bed and a third one in the Mound. It was four-thirty and I joined E on the patio where she had been lying down in the warm sunshine since lunch. Alright for some isn’t it?