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?
After breakfast on Friday (16th) I once again put on my overalls and began working on the pit. There wasn’t much I could do other than skim the edge beneath the newly fitted handrail I had installed on Thursday afternoon and to roughly fill in the edge on the opposite end of the pit. That end would hopefully be smoothed out and finished on Saturday leaving only the floor of the pit to be covered with a screed.
I should be able to get the floor done on Monday and Tuesday if all goes to plan. When that is done all that will be left to do will be cosmetic, sealing the concrete, painting and such. So I only spent an hour working on the project and decided I would take a short walk down to the beach for an hour. I hadn’t been out for a walk for over a week and had simply taken exercise on the equipment instead. To be quite frank I was too tired to go for long walks and fitting in some time on the equipment had been much easier. It was such a nice warm and sunny morning but by the afternoon it had turned a little cooler and dull. After lunch E and I spent a few minutes in the garden preparing the soil in the raised bed between the greenhouses for planting potatoes. I had already planted rhubarb at one end of the bed a few weeks ago and recently had separated the area using paving edge stones…
The rhubarb is at the far right of the bed and some has already begun to grow. As you can see we have made four rows of mounded-up soil and each has around six potatoes in them. The remaining two potatoes were planted in a bucket though I may change my mind and transfer them to the bed if I can. We had strawberries growing in the bed two years ago but they grew wild and too much of the fruit was eaten by woodlice so we dug them out. I transferred a couple of them to pots and grew them in the large greenhouse last year where I could protect them from being eaten.
For many people today will be ‘getting over hangover day’ I suppose but for me it means getting myself motivated for the things I have in mind to do. It has been a very long time since I felt the effects of a hangover and I am glad those days are past having given up the demon drink some years ago. My pleasure is in being active, something not easily achieved when drunk under the influence of alcohol. People do odd things when drunk, often regrettable things. It is a new year with new beginnings or the possibility of them for those who are inclined. For myself, I have other plans. I have no intentions of wasting my time wiling away the hours in a state of being incapable due to alcohol.
I didn’t need to get motivated on Christmas Day, it came naturally! On Christmas Eve in the afternoon E asked if I would like to accompany her on a short trip to Dobbies, the gardening centre. She wanted to buy a small present on behalf of our youngest son. I took the opportunity to tag along as I had wanted to purchase another plant for the rear garden anyway. I wanted another dwarf fan palm to put in the space the rhubarb had occupied before I dug it out a few days earlier. We purchased all that we wanted and returned home immediately afterward. It was beginning to get dark in the late afternoon so I left the plant in its pot until the following day, Christmas Day. On Christmas morning I was up and dressed in my sports clothes and spent time on both the treadmill and the elliptical trainer before returning upstairs for breakfast before eight o’clock. After breakfast and getting dressed for the day I put on my overalls and went into the garden. It was beginning to get brighter and I could now do a little gardening. I collected the wheelbarrow and took it to the composting bin to collect some compost. Then I dug out the hole for the new plant and put some of the compost in it before setting the plant in place and back-filling with soil. It, like all the other fan palms we have will grow to a height of two to three metres.
I took the remainder of the compost and dug it into that part of the raised bed where I would replant the rhubarb corms then placed them in the bed, covering them lightly with soil. The area in question lies about a metre outward from the rear wall at the top of the picture.
You can just about see a couple of them sticking out of the soil. I didn’t water them in as at this time of year they are dormant. In any case rain was forecast and that would level off the soil allowing the heads to show as they should. Hopefully the rhubarb will establish itself and produce a better crop this year having not done so well last year. Once I had watered in the new fan palm I spent a little time sweeping up yet more fallen leaves from the path behind the large greenhouse before finally returning indoors for the day.
In yesterday’s post I mentioned I was leaving off working on any projects at home until the new year. However, as I am too active a person I didn’t include that to mean I wouldn’t be doing anything! For a time now I have been considering moving the rhubarb from the small bed the corms were in and putting them in the raised bed between the two greenhouses. I had cleared the bed some months ago so it is lying empty at the moment.
With that in mind I dug them out and now have a small spare space in which to plant something else.
For the time being (as I write this on Fri 22) I have placed the corms on the large empty bed. I intend to dig in some compost from the compost bin before planting them. They will occupy the far end of the bed next to the main garden wall as E wishes to grow some vegetables in the same bed later. I think she’s intending to plant beetroot and maybe some other root vegetables though not potato, not this time round anyway. I have been wondering what to put in the spare space, another dwarf fan palm? A dwarf conifer? Flowers? I am not sure right now but I would prefer something on the taller side rather than ground-hugging. I have also been busy digging out a few montbretia plants that have been popping up here and there. If my readers remember I spent the first three or four months of the year digging out those rascals along with bluebells. I expect I will be doing much the same these next few months too although on a much smaller scale as I expect there to be far fewer.
I went for another long walk on Wednesday (25) and at the same time gathered some pebbles and stones for the garden. For the past few weeks I have been doing this. I take along a small shoulder bag and fill it with the stones of which there are many lying on the beach. Gradually I collected enough for what I wanted them for, putting in one of the flowerbeds in the rear garden. The pebbles and stones are not native to the beach at Southport for it is one of those beaches where only sand can be found, apart from coal, marram grass and a few other plant species. The stones and pebbles are what remain from the construction of sea defences built a few years ago and were simply not removed. Why would they be?
The stones are there for the picking though I suppose not many folk do. In fact I never did until recently. A few posts ago I wrote about coal deposits on the shore here at Southport. That is the only other thing apart from sea shells of course which can be freely collected when it is washed up on the shore.
Just a few more and there will be enough to complete those parts of the bed I wish to cover. The exposed soil you see in the pictures above will be filled with small flowers, the leaves of which can be seen in front of the stones. They have yet to grow but the variety of plant does eventually spread to give the cover and colour required. In the picture below the same variety of plant is in amongst the stones and around the base of the holly tree trunk in the centre of the picture.
When in bloom they have yellow, red and purple flowers. They are more or less maintenance free too which is a bonus. A week or so back I posted a picture of a couple of ‘mums’ just beginning to bloom as they do in October. I took these pictures on Wednesday too…
A few months ago E mentioned that she was up on the raised ‘secret garden’ as we now fondly call it and when she decided she wanted to come down she told me that she had nearly walked off the area between the two sets of steps we have there….
The drop there as you can see in the above picture (centre bottom) is around 750 mm onto the paving below which would prove to be nasty for anyone not realising it was there. A small wall could have been built but as the area slopes down toward the drop and has to it would have caused water to build-up behind it. The plan was always to put either a large statue there or some potted plants but because the sun only shines there for a couple of weeks at the height of summer any plants would suffer being in the shade most of the year. The plants in the raised bed are in sunshine for six months at least but nearer to the rear of the garage (to the left in the picture) the sun doesn’t shine at all. The only real solution was to put artificial plants there. Initially E and I drove to Dobbies to see what was available but a member of staff informed us that they had stopped selling artificial plants of the type we wanted. A wasted journey we thought so we drove off to town to look in another store. That proved to be a wasted journey also but we persevered and drove back to Dobbies just to make sure there was nothing available. As it is the approach to Christmas we decided an artificial fir-tree might be suitable. Most of the trees there however were constructed using wire which wouldn’t be suitable for outdoors though we did see one small one entirely made of plastic. We bought it. Whilst there we looked in the indoor garden section as discovered that they did have something suitable for outdoors and we bought two of them. When we returned home and in an instant we had solved the ‘falling off the edge’ problem, and here they are
The best part is they don’t require much in the way of after-care! Not a wasted journey after all.
Sunday was one of those days where one minute it was warm and sunny and the next it was cool with a breeze blowing. One consolation was that it didn’t rain which meant I could stay out in the garden to do my thing. The weather at this time of year can be very changeable, a bit like me, one minute I want to do something in particular and the next I change my mind and do something completely different. I have always something on my mind I wish to get done but do not always do it immediately. Let me see if I can explain. Whenever I have a large project to do I am more interested in the main constructive part of that project, for instance if I wanted to build an extension to a room and then decorate it, it would be the main construction which would hold more interest for me. I would be less interested in the decoration and thereafter the detail. It isn’t that I don’t like decorating but for me it is the construction part that I enjoy the most. So although I may have many things to do, it is the larger projects I am drawn to first. All the minor jobs do get done but later and usually because they have been on my mind too long. On Sunday the first thing I did was to check how the concrete I had laid on Saturday had turned out. Suffice to say I was pleased it had gone well and had now set hard. There was still plenty of time before lunch to do a little gardening for after lunch I just planned to relax. In the flowerbed beneath the west wall of the garden I wanted to dig out a few bulbs where we didn’t wish them to be, at the rear of the bed. Next, I wanted to cover the area at the rear of the bed with stones both for effect and to keep weeds at bay.
There is far too much open soil at the rear of the bed so the plan is to cover it all but unfortunately there wasn’t enough stones on the day to do that. When I obtain more stones I will finish the work. Personally I think it looks much better already and it will serve to reduce maintenance by keeping the weeds down. I replanted the bulbs elsewhere in the bed. I then topped-up the soil levels in the three flowerbeds on the patio using growing compost.
As you can see, the ‘Mums’ in the two small beds have really filled out…I removed them from the larger bed last year…..
The same bed from the other side…
And some more ‘Mums’ at the other end of the garden…
It’s like a take-over bid with Mums but they come into their own in Autumn when the flowers come out. In a week or so the red, yellow and white flowers on these two balls will almost blot out the leaves. They are beginning to show already.
On Wednesday after some high winds overnight I hung out the flag having taken it down on Tuesday afternoon. I needed to do a spot of maintenance on the flag anyway. The top of the flag has a toggle which slips easily into the loop on the stay rope but there isn’t one at the bottom of the flag, only a small length of rope. Why the manufacturer doesn’t supply flags with two toggles on them defies logic. I have to use another method which is why it needed maintenance. That done I returned indoors to make a coffee for E and myself. She went upstairs to her workshop to do some work but I was at a loose end with nothing much to do. Well I couldn’t think of anything that wanted doing. I went into the garage to check if there were any leaks after the recent work then decided to tidy-up the raised planting bed between the greenhouses. This year we hadn’t planted anything new but had removed the strawberry plants that we had growing there. We decided that strawberry plants were too much of a problem. They put out feelers and produce more plants and need pruning back often. The fruit they bear is more often than not eaten by bugs despite efforts to prevent that. We are now thinking of growing potatoes once more which are less of a problem and produce a good yield. The bed awaits the planting season…
The small greenhouse we purchased years ago has long since been used for storage and nothing is grown in it. It has become a store for plant pots and other odds and ends…
Whilst the large greenhouse has been used for growing some strawberry plants in pots and these bell peppers…
E usually grows tomatoes and cucumbers too but this year she hasn’t bothered much with the greenhouse except for growing the peppers. Whilst I was getting dressed in my bedroom earlier I noticed that the wind had caused an already broken off branch to fall lower from where it was hanging but it had been prevented from reaching the ground in our garden by the sycamore tree’s branches below. The sycamore tree is growing against the wall inside our garden. The lime tree grows on a neighbours land. See if you can spot the fallen branch. It is at the top right lying diagonally toward the centre in the picture. It looks small but in fact it is over three metres in length.
A couple of much larger dead branches hang on the same lime tree from which these branches keep on breaking off. One is shown in the centre of the next picture. Fortunately they are not hanging over our garden though there are live branches doing so
Finally I took a picture of the only apples growing on the trees this year, and these all on the same tree branch…
It has been a very poor year for apples for usually they count in the tens.