Entitled?

Now that the weather was beginning to improve I made plans to work in the garden soon after breakfast. It was Tuesday (19 Mar) and my first task was to remove the temporary covering I had placed over the concrete I had laid the previous morning. It was as I expected set in place but as they say still green. Concrete takes a few days to ‘cure’ if you like and in fact, so I believe, isn’t totally set until 25 years later! I am not sure where I heard that but it probably is true. Anyway I avoided walking over it for the rest of the day just as I had with the previous layers.

The area covered was that on the left next to the buttress. The buttress by the way will hopefully be rendered on the sides sometime soon. I had begun to render the front face last year as that part was in a very poor condition but other things happening afterward prevented my finishing the work. The whole of the lighter coloured area of the ramp is that which will be finished with a rendering of a smoother mix of concrete to blend in with the pathway and the part nearest the door. It appears that at the time of writing the weather forecast for the following week looks very promising so it will probably get done then. Now the next job was to empty the bags of soil that you can see in the first two pictures and put it into the front garden flowerbeds.

Then I moved the bags of sand (in the third picture) into the garage.

The furthest two bags you can see in the bottom picture had soil in the first and the grass sods in the second. They contained the material which I had dug out of the lawn when constructing the feature there. As of today as I write the furthest bag containing the grass sods will be systematically separated later and the soil recycled and put in the flowerbeds. The work took me up to lunch and after lunch I sat out on the patio in the sunshine for an hour for which I think I was entitled. It went cloudy soon afterward and I took the opportunity to do some pruning and weeding before calling it a day.

Shirley Anne

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Just not worth it

It was Friday and a day to take an early morning walk. It wasn’t particularly warm at seven o’clock when I stepped out and throughout the walk there was a chilly wind from the south east. At first the sun was shining but soon it was covered with clouds and it felt cold. Although the walk itself was enjoyable the wind made it a little uncomfortable. Back home and it was time for breakfast. As the morning progressed it became sunnier by the hour and by lunch time it was quite a warm day. The wind persisted though not as strong and not as cool as it had been. I mentioned in yesterday’s post that I might do some work in the garden over the weekend and perhaps today too but I decided against it and sat on the patio after lunch sunbathing again! Sunbathing in the UK in February? Well it has been quite unusual weather for the month. One of the things I had intended to do in the garden was to remove more bluebells. Two years ago at this time I had been digging them out by the hundreds as well as montbretia plants too but the main reason for that was to enable me to repopulate the main once almost barren flowerbed that had begun to look untidy. There were some trees that needed to be removed and others requiring straightening and pruning but I wanted to organise the bed and put in more plants. All I saw before me was an overgrown flowerbed filled with bluebells, montbretia, weeds and grass. There had been a similar problem on The Mound though not as bad. I made it my business to clean it all up and remove the unwanted plants and weeds. Bluebells though are very difficult to eradicate for their minute seeds can lay dormant in the soil and pop up later. That has been the case for the past two years.

Bluebells

Now that the flowerbed has established plants and shrubs in it the bluebells are less of a problem and can be kept to a respectable minimum. So I have decided to stop trying to eradicate them but to allow them to grow and keep them under control. I do like bluebells despite all my past efforts to remove them but they do need controlling. However I will remove any montbretia that I find growing in the rear garden for they really do look untidy and especially after the growing season when all the leaves die and lay there still attached to the bulbs. We do have montbretia in the front garden but they are in places where they are not a problem.

As the picture shows the montbretia though looking very nice can and do take over any spare ground and grow quite tall. Unless other plants in the same bed are taller they will be hidden. Having made the decision not to be too enthusiastic in removing the bluebells but only the montbretia (which are far easier to remove) I can concentrate on other things.

Shirley Anne

Nagging

Do you find that you sometimes feel something is nagging at you to the point where you have to act upon it? It might be a chore that needs doing, an errand to run, a promised job you said you would do or any other thing. The little voice in your head keeps reminding you but you resist and try to put it out of your thoughts. Unfortunately it pops up again the next day, week or even month if you resist too long. Maybe you were thinking it would go away and all would be forgotten yet it still pops into your thoughts now and then. I am lucky if I get past a week and very lucky if I make it to the month stage. I usually end up giving in and getting the task done. The little voice would nag me to death otherwise!

So a few weeks ago I chopped down several fruit trees in the garden and promised myself that I would cut the trunks into smaller sections some time later. I kept putting it off and even suggested I might just take them to the tip instead, anything but chop them up! There was a good reason for my thinking that way because at the time I was feeling exhausted. I had made the attempt at cutting one length of trunk and found I was too tired. It put me off the thought of cutting any more and I put it in the back of my mind. Then along came nagging thoughts which persisted until I finally had to give in but they didn’t have it all their own way. On Tuesday (18 th) I was at something of a loose end and thought about having another go at cutting the trunks. Although it was hard-going I managed to spend an hour at it. However I was only able to complete part of the task before I had to rest. It wasn’t as bad as I imagined it would be so I will have another go at it in the days ahead. It will take a few sessions but I am determined now that it will not defeat me.

Shirley Anne

More bells

I mean of the blue variety. I was in the garden on Tuesday morning with the main object of putting some of the left-over pebbles into the raised bed in the area we call ‘The Plot’ at the side of the house. We sometimes refer to it as the secret garden because it hides between the garage and the laurel trees next to the patio. It is accessed through a gate I constructed almost two years ago and is therefore ‘out of the way’. It didn’t take long to spread the pebbles.

Although it doesn’t look a lot there are plenty of pebbles in there. What is left in the bag in the garage I hope will be enough to put in the long raised bed on the patio. Before that can happen I have to remove the cyclamen plants which are growing there. The other plants will be left.

Once I had finished that work I went around the garden borders digging out bluebells. Those which were remaining after the purge a couple of years ago cannot easily be removed for the bulbs are deep beneath the roots of other plants so all I can do is pull out any shoots which appear by digging down as far as I am able. At least now they are manageable but in places they are still quite numerous. I spent only an hour or so in the garden even though there were other jobs I could have done. There is no hurry, I’ve all the time in the world.

Shirley Anne

Finally it eased

I did a swap between days at the weekend. I rested on Saturday but did a little on Sunday instead. The wind had finally eased off and I was able to get into the garden to begin the jobs I had lined-up. First though it was ‘clean sheet day’, I changed the bedclothes and put the soiled ones in the washing machine before eating breakfast. After breakfast I placed one of the duvets in the bath and hand washed it. Have you ever washed a duvet? They are very heavy when wet. Following the wash was the rinsing, all very tiring work. How then to dry it? We have a plastic linen basket in the bathroom and I used that on which to put the now folded duvet to allow the water to slowly drip from it. It took hours for that to happen but as the bath wasn’t needed it could stay there all day. Then it was time to put on my overalls and get outdoors, first of all to replace the flag now that the high winds had ceased and then into the rear garden to saw off the remaining tree stumps at ground level. Four of them stood one to two metres high and two were nearer the ground. My arms were aching somewhat after I had finished. I might decide not to saw through those stored tree trunks I mentioned in yesterdays’s post but take them to the recycling centre instead.

Sawing them is too much like hard work! By the time I had done with the work outside it was almost time for lunch but first I had to hang the washing on the line in the boiler/gym room. Whilst down there I spent some time on the cross-trainer. Time to cook lunch. It was two o’clock and I spent the rest of the day just relaxing and as it was a bright and sunny afternoon I spent some time in the garden.

Shirley Anne

….in the morning

I mean Christmas day in the morning, I did this….

…..this…

…this..

…and this….

That is giving the whole room, the walls and ceiling its first coat of white emulsion. Bright isn’t it? I think so. The room had been in an awful state very much as the other rooms I had refurbished during the year. By the time you are reading this at the end of January hopefully the work in the cellar will have been completed. It wasn’t the only thing I did that day for I spent a little time in the rear garden cleaning and hosing down the area in the Plot where we keep the composting bin. It had been looking a little neglected when I went to tip more compost in the bin.

Moss loves the area and leaves get trapped too. In all I spent around five hours working before I decided I’d had enough.

Shirley Anne

Energy

My neighbour, the lady who has been poorly these last six months, often asks me where it is I get my energy from. She isn’t referring to a utility provider but why it is I seem to be on the go all the time. I am not really on the go all the time but it sure feels that way sometimes. Take Wednesday (7 th Nov) for instance, I took a five-mile walk before breakfast at 5 o’clock. After breakfast I continued the work in the utility room first of all finishing the filling-in and then giving all the woodwork its first coat of white emulsion. That took me three hours. Later in the morning after a snack I went into the garden to cut back the fruit (damson/plum) trees in The Mound. If you remember earlier in the year I mentioned I was going to remove some of them and cut back the remainder. Here is how it looked during the summer….

All of them were cut and the intention was to remove the smaller ones completely but having done the pruning we might decide to remove them all before Spring. Here is The Mound photographed from a downstairs window soon after I had finished work because it had begun to rain heavily.

The trunks I placed near the small plot across the garden whilst the branches and twigs I cut into small pieces and placed them in a large industrial bag until I can dispose of them. 

That work took another three hours and I had just about finished when the rain began to fall. In fact I had to spend the last ten minutes working in the rain. The roots would be dug out another day.  Yes I don’t know where I get the energy from either!

Shirley Anne

Better ideas

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.

Shirley Anne

It didn’t rain

At the end of yesterday’s post I mentioned the weather forecast for the rest of that day wasn’t very promising, rain and wind throughout. However after breakfast I decided to re-check the forecast for it had been the previous day when I last checked it. While out on my walk I had expected some rain to fall but it didn’t. Now the forecast was completely the opposite, no rain and hardly any wind so when I had finished my breakfast I decided to put on my overalls and work on the garden project with a view to completing the second stage which was filling the bottom of the trench with concrete. Three mixer loads later it was done..

As you can see the concrete is now laid all around the plot. On Monday (24 th) I hope to begin setting the cobbles in place around the perimeter. I will be using a fine concrete mix for that part of the project. After packing away everything until Monday morning I had a walk around the garden and noticed a problem on the lawn near to The Mound.

In the picture above you can see the dark patches (top centre) on the lawn. The lower patch is the soil I had scattered a dew days earlier for there is a dip on the lawn just there. The grass will grow through the soil in a few days. The other patch is the result of my digging there to remove roots coming from the damson trees in The Mound behind. Last year I had seen a tree shoot in the lawn which I dug out by removing about a metre of root. This time I saw yet more shoots so I decided to lift some grass and dig them out, hence the soil everywhere. Later this Autumn I had already planned to remove a couple of the damson trees from The Mound and cut back the others. This is the problem with fruit trees, they like to spread themselves through their root systems. It could be that we remove them altogether at some point for we don’t eat much of the fruit anyway.

Shirley Anne

Just in time

It had been quite a few weeks since I last mowed the lawn, well it seemed that long anyway. I don’t keep tabs on such things. I had watered the garden soon after breakfast on Friday instead of doing it the other way around. I wanted to go for a walk but needed some space after eating. It was just after four o’clock when I’d finished the watering and still very much dark. It wouldn’t get light until after six o’clock at this time of year. No, I didn’t water the garden in darkness as we have switchable lighting at one end which pretty much illuminates the whole garden though the floodlights illuminate automatically because of their motion detectors. The lights over the patio can be switched on too but there is little point if all the others are switched on, suffice to say it was light enough without them. Anyway I digress. So I went for my walk just after four o’clock and it was dry and windy but a little cool, especially in the wind. Soon I would have to think about wearing warmer clothing on these outings though I had on this occasion been well wrapped up too. I took the walk through the back streets to town and beyond and was well-sheltered from the wind. When I reached the seafront however it was a different story, bracing but enjoyable nevertheless. It stayed dry until I reached home when I could see the odd spatter of rain by the front door entrance. When I went indoors I prepared what I would be having for lunch later, another chilli. It was around ten-thirty when I decided to mow the lawn as it had remained dry until then. The odd spattering earlier must have been just a passing cloud which had decided to hold on to its load. I mowed the lawn, which took about twenty minutes and just as I had put the mower back in storage it began to rain.

Even so that didn’t last long either but we had been promised more persistent rain later in the day and into the night. On Thursday, the day before, our next-door neighbour was having the scaffolding around his house dismantled, well almost all of it. Evidently the work of re-pointing the brickwork and carrying out roof repairs had ended. The guys had been fortunate for it not to have been raining whilst doing that job. How do they manage to work safely if it is pouring down with rain? Anyway on looking at the work that has been done the front aspect of the house looks really nice but when I looked at the side and rear all that has happened has been a little patching up here and there. I would have though it better to have the whole house done while the scaffolding was there. I know how much it costs to have scaffolding erected having had it around my house and it isn’t cheap! I even asked the guys why they were dismantling it as I didn’t think the work was finished. It didn’t look finished to me.

Shirley Anne