Category Archives: Plants

More beach combing

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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… 

Big balls of colour!

Shirley Anne

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Wasted journey?

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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.

Shirley Anne

A bit like me

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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.

Shirley Anne

 

Garden bits

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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.

Shirley Anne

I didn’t but…

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In yesterday’s post I mentioned in passing that I would be doing some work on Monday, today, well one week ago really as I am at this point eight posts ahead. The thing is I didn’t do any of the suggested work but something else instead and that later in the day. I had gone to bed very early on Sunday evening, that is early for me and after a quick shower I was in bed at nine-twenty. I fell asleep almost immediately so I suppose I had been very tired though I don’t know why, I had been relaxing throughout the day. I did awaken a couple of times but only for a toilet visit and the second of those times I didn’t return to sleep. It was five o’clock. That gave me a golden opportunity to go for an early walk. The morning was balmy, warm, high humidity and almost no wind. I guess the temperature was about 14 or 15 deg C. At six o’clock as I left the house it was approaching twilight time, my favourite times of the day when it is betwixt night and day and can only be experienced fully in the temperate regions of the planet. In tropical regions there is hardly any time between night and day or darkness and light. Anyway I walked about five miles before returning home for breakfast. E was still in bed. After breakfast I had it in mind to start the work I had mentioned but simply couldn’t be bothered so I rested a while. Having eaten breakfast early I was beginning to feel a little hungry earlier than usual but delayed eating until after one o’clock. I suddenly thought of something I wanted to do in the garden but I needed to purchase a plant. There was a space I had pencilled-in for planting another fan palm.

If you remember I had recently split two that had been growing in the same pot and had put them in the garden, one in the front garden and one in the rear garden. At that time I had wished I had purchased another so after lunch I drove to Dobbies and purchased one for £17.99. That was after my member discount of £2. I placed it in the rear garden as planned. It is just above and to the right in the top picture and centre in the second picture. I knew I would have to do the electrical work on Tuesday instead.

Shirley Anne

Strawbs and stuff

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I was feeling just a little tired after my early morning walk on Thursday but after a bit of breakfast and a short rest I was eager to do some gardening. My first task was to separate the two Fan Palm plants we had purchased the day before. They were growing in the same pot though we were able to purchase them for the price of one. It can be difficult separating plants if they have been growing in the same pot for any length of time and these two were no exception. It was like separating spaghetti without damaging it. Their roots had intermingled but with a little patience I managed to untangle them without damage and without losing too much of the medium in which they were growing. Adding new growing compost and extra feed I replanted one in the pot and gave it a thorough watering. I took the other into the front garden and planted it there giving it the same treatment as its twin.

The other I placed alongside the Olearia ready for planting out later, probably well into next month for a special reason. Here they are and will stay in the meantime….soaking up the sun in a warmer part of the garden..

I have to wait in order to plant them out because one of them will be going in the space already occupied by a deciduous bush which will be planted elsewhere. I need to wait until it dies-back for the colder months and in this plant’s case it will be sometime in September. It is already showing signs of doing that….

It is the plant just right of centre against the wall. It produces bright yellow flowers in Spring but the leaves as you can see are now wilting. Last year when I planted it there the same thing happened and I thought it was simply wanting water but I had been watering it every day as it was still establishing itself. I hope to place the Olearia there as it grows quite tall and in the space to the left and forward I hope to plant the Fan Palm, The wall is south-facing in case you were wondering. After doing that work I planted the Azalea in front of the Phoenix Canariensis in the west flowerbed and set into the soil a couple of stepping-stones to the left of it. You can just see the first one at bottom left. The second is out-of-sight top left. The Phoenix will grow much taller eventually. 

Following that I planted out the new Dahlia near to the bird bath. The deciduous bush will be planted against the wall in the space directly behind the Dahlia which is at the front in this picture…

I should have stopped there for lunch but as I had a late breakfast I worked on and applied the lawn weed killer using a watering can. That took some time but it got done and then it was time for lunch. It was much later when I gave the whole garden a watering and I took these photos as well as this one through the greenhouse glass….

This plant has produced many strawberries this season.and as you can see there are more ripening up in the sunshine.

Click on images to magnify.

Shirley Anne

Spending Wednesday

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E and I had been invited to a garden centre end of season sale with stock selling at reduced prices. The centre is one we have used before of course though of late we now tend to use Dobbies for our gardening needs. This other centre is about six or seven miles from home whereas Dobbies is just over one mile away. I get discounts at Dobbies throughout the year. We arrived at the centre with time to spare handing in our signed invitation to get access. We had no idea if we would buy anything or not but ended up purchasing two plants, a garden ornament in the shape of an owl, a bird table, some weed killer and some lawn feed spending around seventy to eighty pounds in the process.

In the top picture are the Azalea (right) and a Dahlia shrub (left) both in their pots until I get to plant them later. The owl is in the middle picture and of course the new bird bath is in the lower picture. We waited about an hour looking out of the kitchen windows before the first bird took a bath in it. The robin which lives in a bush nearby was the first partaker and he loved it so much we were wondering if he’d ever get out! Before driving home we decided to visit Dobbies, initially for the free coffee we get each month but to also browse around. We ended up purchasing two more plants, a Fan Palm and an Olearia. Both can grow to a height of over two metres. We already have a Fan Palm but that one is classed as a dwarf palm as it only grows to a height of around one metre. As an extra bonus we discovered that there were two Fan Palms in the same pot and selling for the price of one. Maybe you can see that there are two plants in the right-hand pot. That means we can plant in two different places. We dropped the goods off at home before driving off to a local pub for lunch. It was on our return home that we set up the bird table.

Click on images to magnify.

Shirley Anne

Before I forget

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Tired and Emotional

Tired and Emotional (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I arose very early on Tuesday morning and was soon up and about though still remaining a little tired. I have had these feelings for quite some time, tired, listless, drained and not wanting to do anything but sit or lie down. I don’t give in to such thoughts of course, I keep active instead. One of the reasons I awoke was to do something about that tree stump in the front garden which stubbornly refuses any attempt to remove it. After breakfast I donned my overalls and gave it another go but was soon defeated, the saw made only a small amount of progress so I put it away. Attempt number two was a better idea. I took my cordless drill and a wood bit to the stump and drilled several deep holes in it. Next I poured into the holes some herbicide until they were full. Now all I have to do is wait and see if that gets results. Hopefully it will otherwise I will have to think of something else, a chainsaw perhaps? Anyway I returned indoors to chat with E who had just come downstairs for her breakfast. She’d asked what I had been doing so early in the morning and then we chatted about other things. I mentioned a dream I had dreamt but at first I couldn’t remember it’s content. Immediately upon waking I kept the dream in my thoughts in the hope I could write it down later as I usually do. In the dream I was visiting a building site, the house someone was building. On my arrival there I saw a tower of scaffolding standing about seven or eight metres high and I started to climb it in order to reach the person whose house it would become when finished. I thought it was extremely odd that this person, a guy, a colleague from my past was involved with such a project as that sort of work was foreign to him, he just wasn’t capable. His wife was with him and it seemed that she had more knowledge of what to do than he had. Just then the scaffolding fell away from the house, though it no longer appeared to be a house but an open-sided factory of some sort. I fell to the ground surrounded by the scaffold and severely injured. Somehow I managed to dig myself out and was furious with my ex-colleague. I somehow pushed the scaffolding back to its original position and upright as I argued with him. I have no idea where the strength to do that had come from! I then found myself carrying out some work before I woke up rather abruptly. Now what I am about to write you may find as strange as I did, I had blood on my night-clothes. It was fresh blood and was easily washed off (I washed the whole garment later) in the hand basin. I checked my body for evidence of any wounds and could not find anything! What can I say?

Shirley Anne

Now and then

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Wednesday had been a really hot day, well insofar as it normally gets around here it was hot. Although the average temperature only hovered around 21 deg C there was no wind. Out on the patio it was a sun-trap and probably hotter. Doing anything much was out of the question soon after midday. In the morning I had spent an hour or so in the front garden chopping down an unruly and overgrown tree. I am not sure it could be called a tree as such but it grew from a central base from which several ‘trunks’ and smaller shoots rose into the air to a height of  four metres. Here it is to the left of the tall holly tree ( picture taken  earlier in the year ).Many drooping purple-coloured flowering heads hung down among the leaves. It had begun to mingle in the branches of the large holly tree too. I say ‘chopped’ it down but in fact I had to use a saw, the axe simply bounced off the stems if used. E and I spent an hour cutting down the branches in order to place them in the wheelie bins. We neither of us worked during the afternoon but spent it, most of it, on the patio. The root ‘ball’ would have to be dealt with another day. On Thursday morning therefore I donned my overalls, boots and gloves to get stuck into digging it out. The day was beginning to get hot so I had little time in which to do it. However, I first had to saw off the remains of the trunks and offshoots in order to get at it. Another go with the axe proved useless though had access been better it might have worked. It would take a lot of time and effort to shift the roots which undoubtedly were mingling with the roots of the other plants and trees there. I had to give up on the whole idea. I remember the problems we’d had removing two other trees of the same variety when we started work on constructing the Mound in the rear garden a few years ago. They took a long time to dig out even though we had open access. It was only recently that I had cut up the remains of those root balls which after those three or four years had finally begun to dry out. Here they are on the ground which I have since worked on and call the Plot (bottom picture)

Even then it was hard work cutting them. At the moment of writing this I am not sure what we’ll do about removing the one in the front garden border. I have to check out and research some possible solutions, perhaps pouring herbicides into holes drilled into it to kill it off. I do remember I used salt around the roots on those other two plants which did stop them from growing new shoots but of course salt would kill off the other nearby plants too in this instance. Soon after I had stopped work I sat in the rear garden in the shade for a short time before an old customer called me asking if I would solve a couple of electrical problems for her. The work was local, easy and paid well. How could I refuse?

Shirley Anne

Suddenly I see

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Suddenly I See

Suddenly I See (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Much as I like K T Tunstall’s song, which as I write this is playing in my mind, it has nothing to do with my post. It did however prompt me to write it. I have been doing a lot of walking about locally recently which I hope to keep up and on one of those walks on Saturday morning the song was going through my mind. Then suddenly I did see. When I became a Christian way back in 1989 everything was new to me regarding the faith and I had much learning to do. This post is more to do with Creation than anything else though. Anyway as I was walking about I did what I usually do which is to look at other folk’s gardens and their plants. It never ceases to amaze me how much variety there is in the plant kingdom. One of my favourite routes takes me along a road called Rotten Row which I have mentioned many times in my posts, even recently. At this time of year the flowerbeds along the length of the road are filled with many varieties of flowering plants as well as trees and non-flowering shrubs. The colours are wonderful, pink, red, purple, yellow, white, orange and everything in between are a feast for the eyes. I wish I could have many of the plants growing in my garden but the variety is too great, I could never fit them all in. Having said that we do have quite a variety growing at home even so. It all got me thinking about Creation and how it all came about. As I believe in God I believe Creation is by His hand and my thoughts became overwhelmed in awe of it all. Suddenly I could see as I had never seen before how great God’s handiwork really is. I cannot give credence to the idea that it is all due to evolution for there are too many varieties of everything in Creation. In the Book of Revelation it talks about a new heaven and a new earth. Imagine what they will be like when this earth is already filled with such beautiful things. Just open your eyes and see the beauty that surrounds you everywhere you go. It is a forerunner of better things to come but untainted and unspoiled by mankind. Look at the work of God’s hands and suddenly you may see too.

Shirley Anne

Uncomfortable

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Medieval dentist removing tooth

Medieval dentist removing tooth (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I know I shouldn’t complain about the weather for there is nothing I can do about it. These past few days have been very warm and humid, so much so it has left me feeling very uncomfortable and drained of energy. It has more to do with the humidity rather than the temperature and that applies to everyone. We can only cool down (in the air) if our perspiration is allowed to evaporate but the higher the humidity the less that can happen. I try to do as little as possible when conditions are humid but it isn’t easy. On Thursday morning I had a dental appointment across town and even at ten o’clock in the morning it was beginning to feel uncomfortable. How grateful I was that the surgery is fully air-conditioned. Whilst I was waiting to see the dentist I received a phone call from my neighbour informing me that I should return home because the house alarm had been sounding. I wondered why E hadn’t contacted me but as we haven’t been on speaking terms she asked a neighbour! All that however is a different story which I will not go into at this time. I explained that it was impossible for me to return immediately and left it at that. The alarm would automatically cease sounding after twenty minutes anyway and when I did arrive back home some forty minutes later it had indeed cut off.

English: A house alarm

A house alarm (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

It transpired that the main panel battery was faulty but I called the alarm company and asked if they could attend and replace it and also do a complete service at the same time. We hadn’t an existing maintenance agreement so I arranged that with the engineer when he called. For an annual fee (presently £108) they will check out the system each year and carry out any necessary repairs. I had asked their office not to send an engineer before three o’clock as I was eating out. They came at one-fifteen! Fortunately I had been to the pub before then but my visit there was cut short. It was just as well as it turned out. It is unusual for people to arrive earlier than the appointed time I have to say but I suppose they had time on their hands. My dental appointment by the way was for a routine check-up and clean but I have been referred to a local clinic in regard to a gum infection at the dentist’s request. He just wanted a second opinion. By mid-afternoon all had calmed down, dentist, pub, alarm sorted but I had to water the gardens once again. It is easy enough for me to go and stand in the shower if I get too uncomfortable but the poor plants must be wondering when it will be that it rains again! I wish it would too.

Shirley Anne

Different work in progress

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Today, Tuesday (22 nd) as I write this post, I have been busy at home all day long. I actually received a call an hour ago asking if I would do a small electrical job! Now there’s a thing but I am waiting for his return call at this minute to let me know for sure. So this morning my first job was to cut and fit four lengths of semi-circular molding to cover the joints on the pillar/stand I have made and then paint them with primer. An hour later I gave the whole unit another coat of gloss paint and left it to dry, which will take it at least 24 hours. Gloss paint takes time to dry and even then it will be a few more days before it becomes rock-hard. It will probably be the weekend before I attempt to use it. Following that work I removed the top hinge on the door to the small lounge in order to set it further into the frame by chiselling out a little wood beneath it. This has the effect of lifting the leading bottom edge slightly so that it clears the floor covering, the carpet. The new carpet pile was restricting the door moving over it. That work took me almost to lunch time and after lunch I decided to water the gardens because of the dry weather. As I went into the rear garden however I saw that the lawn was looking a little unkempt due to the daisies and other plants growing in it. I think it needs treating to eradicate weeds but at the moment it isn’t too bad. Anyway I had to mow it. Rain threatened, that is I could just about feel tiny drops of rain falling on my bare skin now and then but it didn’t materialise and I got on with the mowing. Once that was done I could water the garden. When I say water the garden I usually mean the border plants and those in planters or on the patio. I only water the grass rarely at this time of year though in the warmer months I try to give it a watering regularly. That took some time as once again I had to stop to dig out Montbretia shoots. I moved into the front garden and to give the plants there a good soaking too but first I spent some time removing a few weeds from the flowerbeds. I got stung by the rose-bush as I reached between the stems to get at a weed. I wasn’t wearing gloves and I had forgotten the fact that rose bushed have thorns, large thorns! The flowers are beautiful though in this picture only one has at yet fully opened..

I wish it were possible for you to smell the scent, it is a heavy and powerful aroma which can be sensed far away from the plant. Other plants in the front garden are in blossom too, like the small rhododendron in the Mound. The Mound has been left to grow a little wild though some wild flowers such as dandelions and thorny weeds I remove.

The flowerbeds I worked on last year have been growing back well but a few plants, supposedly perennials, haven’t grown back for some reason. See bare patches at the front.

Shirley Anne

Wilderness

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I suppose, well know for a fact, that nurtured gardens and man-made places never remain that way once the nurturing stops. Anyone who is a gardener will know that maintenance is necessary to keep things in order. My Sunday was spent just pottering about and doing nothing special, certainly no work. My house projects take a break on Sundays as I try my best to relax from my usual routine. I do find it difficult to do absolutely nothing at all but anything I do on my days off is very minimal, mowing the lawn and removing a weed or two is about as much as I will do. I did spend a ;little time in the rear garden and in the greenhouse tidying up and looking after the plants. In the garden itself I placed a bucket load of natural stones around the base of the fan palm as I did with the yucca close-by recently. The stones were filtered from the three buckets or containers that I had filled with all the rubble I had been digging out when removing bluebells. There seemed to as many rocks and stones as bluebell bulbs in some places. Anyway I filtered out the natural stones from the rest a few weeks ago but never got around to using them. Apart from picking out a weed or two as well I did no more. During the day I spent a little time in the small lounge, not to work but to sit and play guitar. I had borrowed a chair from the kitchen on which to sit when taking a break from work so it was handy for sitting on to play. I was near the window and so couldn’t avoid seeing the garden itself.

Obviously not all the garden can be seen in the picture but the section shown is that which I could see from where I was sitting. The picture is a poor reflection of the naked-eye view but if it is magnified it will show the detail. (click on image). On closer inspection it can be seen as a miniature wilderness which is the way it was intended to be. The flowerbeds in the front garden are cultivated and the bushes at the rear were planted. There are four other plants in the front part which I planted a year or two ago, everything else at ground level is wild, that is they are wild flowers and weeds. Those ‘weeds’ I don’t want to be there. like dandelions for instance, I remove when they show but the rest I allow to grow. One particular plant  is known locally as Southport Weed though obviously not its real name and neither does it just grow in Southport but yes it is a weed or wild flower. It blankets the ground like a huge web and has tiny pink or purple flowers which are now in bloom and last throughout the summer. The bees love it and so do I. There is a problem with it though, it can spread all over the place if not controlled. It makes its home on brick walls and anywhere else it can get a hold but as long as it is plucked free it isn’t a real problem. There are other weeds amongst it which also have nice little flowers too and I leave them all to grow. It is the only part of both gardens I have deliberately allowed wild flowers to be a feature. Together with the rocks it really does look natural, something different from the cultivated parts of the garden.

Shirley Anne

One addition……

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….and one subtraction was the name of the game on Monday (24th). Again I was eager to resume work after Sunday resting. I actually got the opportunity to lie down on the patio, out of the wind but in the warmth of the sun. It wasn’t that windy but sitting in it too long would be uncomfortable unless the sun was shining. I did sit in it for a time then decided to get out one of the mats and lay on that for a time. So it was now Monday morning and I was up and ready to go well before nine o’clock. I wanted to complete the application of the first coat of gloss paint on that wood work which remained with only an undercoat. That meant all the skirting boards and the fire surround or mantlepiece. I had already completed the door, door and window frames on Saturday. The skirting took less than an hour but the fire surround took around two hours and if you look at the picture you can see why….

…it is quite intricate in detail. So now I had all the gloss paint done but I have to give it all a second coat and do a little filling-in with caulk in a few places beforehand too. The second coat should be quicker to do. What I like about the gloss paint I am using is that it appears to have a slight grey-green tint when applying it but it turns pure white as it dries and that makes it very easy to apply over the first coat as far as seeing where you have done as you paint. Looking at the picture again you will notice that the fire has gone. Before I began work at nine I had already visited the local fireplace installer to organise an engineer to call to give me some advice regarding the existing fire and the hearth itself. Just before I had finished the painting their engineer called to the house and we discussed the alternatives available to me. The problem is that the existing hearth and back granite (reconstituted) is of the wrong colour now that I have or will have changed the decor and I want it to be a shade of grey instead. The fire itself is now 28 years old and I decided to replace it after our discussion so with that in mind I asked the guy to disconnect it and take it away. I said I would call into their office after lunch to arrange and pay for the work to be done which is to tile over the back and hearth and install a new fire. I went to the pub for lunch (this is becoming a regular habit) and then drove to the office, chose a fire and tile colour, paid the fee (£800) which includes labour costs, and returned home. I was informed that the work might be undertaken at the end of the following week. Perfect. I didn’t stop at home long as I had to go out and purchase the tube of caulk which I had forgotten to buy earlier and at the same time visit the garden centre. One of the shrubs in the long flowerbed hadn’t taken root and had died and I wanted to put something else in its place. The shrub was merely an off-shoot of a plant already growing in the bed (the one on the extreme left in the picture) which I had removed when digging out bluebells a couple of months ago. I gave it the chance to grow further along the bed but it didn’t work. Anyway I bought another Prunus Novita (Cherry Laurel) to plant in the space…..

It is the tall dark plant against the wall dead-centre in the picture. The other one I purchased a couple of weeks ago I planted in the west wall flowerbed which has had more plants put in it since.

So one addition (the plant) and one subtraction (the fire).

Shirley Anne

Unless you’re a duck!

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Duck! Rabbit, Duck!

Duck! Rabbit, Duck! (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I really felt terrible on Friday, weary, tired and a little fed-up with things but it was basically caused by fatigue, overwork, all work and no play if you prefer. I went to bed early on Friday and had some quality sleep. I woke up feeling completely different from the way I had done the previous day. I had determined that the weekend was going to be work-free and indeed on Saturday morning I couldn’t do any work anyway, in the garden that is, as it was raining. It was ceaseless and lasted the whole morning. Great if you are a duck and we often see ducks in our neighbour’s pond but none were about on Saturday. Around one-thirty the sun began to poke through the clouds and the weather improved minute by minute until around two-thirty when it could improve no more! The afternoon became bright and sunny in complete contrast to the morning. I wanted to get out into the garden and relax but it didn’t happen. I took the van to Dobbies and purchased ten more trees and shrubs, I say trees but three are actually tall shrubs I suppose rather than trees. Anyway I returned home and planted them out, one in the Plot area, two in the west wall bed and the remaining seven in various places in the long flowerbed. I was then able to sit on the patio for a short time until I saw another bluebell appearing in The Mound! I had to remove it……them and then I began to see others in different places which I set about removing. What annoyed me more than having again to dig them out was that one group were growing beneath a shrub I had planted in The Mound eighteen months ago. I had to gently remove the shrub to get at them. The sad part is that I know there will be more to remove yet. In one or two places I have not been able to remove the bulbs because they are so deep beneath tree roots. In those cases all I can do is pluck them back to prevent them growing above the soil. The grass needed cutting again but that would have to wait until at least Sunday as it was too wet to cut on Saturday and I’d had enough!

Shirley Anne