It doesn’t take long for me to complete a project once I get started. It is getting started which is often the problem but that is usually because I have either not enough time or I haven’t all the materials at hand. I have just returned from the pub after spending an hour there for my lunch. It is Friday (2nd Feb) and this morning I spent some time on the treadmill before breakfast. After breakfast I set about the tasks which would see the completion of the second part of the garage door project. The first part was to install the floodlight and the automatic circuit to control it (see previous posts). Whilst doing that work I discovered the safety edge equipment required a more robust installation from that which had been carried out by the installer. Sometimes things are best done by one’s self! This second part was what I set about doing earlier today. The first thing to do was to fit the two lengths of now painted timber, one at each side of the door frame on which to refit the edging strips themselves. They are coloured black in the pictures. The strips house the infra-red beams which when interrupted stop the downward movement of the closing door. The job took only a few minutes to do…..
Click on pictures to see detail.
Finally I had to replace the metal cover over the length of the door which hides the door when it is rolled up (part of it can be seen in the first picture). I had removed it some time ago when repairing the guide strip (see older posts). That was it, the end of another little project. E had come to the garage to show me something and I took the opportunity to ask her about a plant we have in one of the flowerbeds. Whilst we were looking at the bed we saw some more bluebells beginning to show themselves so rather than going indoors for lunch I spent some time digging them out, about fifteen of them. It as almost two o’clock when I returned indoors and E had almost finished her lunch. She needed to go with her mom for the weekly shopping. I decided at that point I would eat out, hence the pub visit.
There are times when feeling at a loose end I turn to baking something. Usually the idea to bake something has been in my thoughts for days but I hesitate to do it for one or two reasons, I am too tired, I am involved doing something else or I haven’t the time. Over the last couple of years I have taken a greater interest in baking and have slowly improved doing it. Sometimes there have been mistakes of course but those who say they never make mistakes usually don’t make anything! Once in a while I will take on a new challenge, make something I haven’t attempted before. A year or more ago I found a recipe for making doughnuts and set about making some. Doughnuts though are not baked, they are fried in deep fat or oil. The results were fair, the doughnuts were edible but could have been much better. Since then I hadn’t bothered making any more until recently when I discovered another recipe using different ingredients. I decided to try it. It was Saturday and E had gone to her afternoon meeting and I had time on my hands. Whereas the previous recipe used bicarbonate of soda this one called for yeast to be used instead and the process took much longer. However I made the doughnuts but sadly they were somewhat of a failure having not risen enough they turned out far too heavy. E and I had a great laugh regarding the escapade, me suggesting they would fit in well in the garden rockery and she suggesting we give them to a neighbour to practice his golf with. Oh well, back to the drawing board I suppose. On reflection it was all about the yeast but I think the next attempt will be using the original recipe instead, at least they tasted and felt like doughnuts! It was now Monday and E again was out during the afternoon shopping with her mom. I had spent an hour exercising on the gym equipment in the morning but as it was such a fine day I decided to put on my overalls and get into the garden to do some work. The first thing I wanted to do was to spread some mulch onto the flowerbed by the greenhouses….
As you can see I got it done but there was no more mulch in the bin (below) suitable to spread anywhere else.
After that job I swept up the pathways and placed the leaves on top of what was left in the compost bin. It will be many months before there would be any usable mulch or compost to take from it. It will get filled once the grass starts growing and is cut. Things are beginning to grow again even though it is still only January and I have already dug out a few bluebells. As the weather improves (stops raining) I will be able to get more maintenance done in the garden and if it is raining too hard I can always make some doughnuts!
I was up and about early on Friday morning, that would be the 19 th but I actually didn’t get downstairs until 9.30. E was only a few minutes ahead of me in reaching the kitchen for her breakfast. I however only wanted to fill my drinks flask with water as I was about to go into the cellar or basement if you prefer to do some exercising on the equipment. I spent a little time stretching my leg muscles before mounting the bicycle to do some gentle peddling for ten minutes. I could have spent hours doing that as it is so relaxing even though it was exercise, mild exercise admittedly but it served to warm me up for getting on the treadmill. Finally I am getting back to where I left-off as far as my treadmill routine is concerned. I spent thirty minutes on it and found I had increased my overall distance covered in that time. It isn’t all running though, I walk between stints of running but my distance run is increasing and the time spent walking in between is lessening. My next exercise was spent on the elliptical trainer, the machine I found difficult to get used to. It appears my muscles are beginning to accept the different exercise regime at last and I was able to spend fifteen minutes on it without any problems. It will take some time before I can do more strenuous exercise on it of course but I am getting there. Time for a little breakfast before taking a shower. Later in the morning I decided to go to the greenhouse to water the bulbs which had sprouted in the large tubs. E has been growing flowers in the greenhouse over the past few years. It was left to me to do the watering however, she didn’t want to face the elements as it was a cold, windy and wet day. I have no problems with that. Whilst outside I noticed a few montbretia and bluebells beginning to grow in the border close to the greenhouse. I was expecting them to show up at some point. I got out the kneeling stool and hand fork and dug them out. If you remember I spent the first couple of months of last year removing the bulk of them from the garden. The picture above taken at the time shows one of the areas I worked in. No doubt there will be more to come yet. Just as I had dug them out it poured down with rain. Later we had more showers of both rain and hail. Well it is Winter after all.
Sunday, the last day of the year turned out to be bright and sunny, The temperature hovered around 9 deg C all day though a stiff breeze made it feel colder. Still, it was nice to be outdoors when sheltered from that wind. I had deliberately arisen early so that I could drive to the beach to collect some more stones. I left the house around seven-thirty and by the time I had parked the van in the car park near to the beach it was beginning to enter the twilight zone. Twilight for me is the best part of any day and I am glad I live in a place where we have a period of twilight twice a day. Anyway, the wind felt stronger down on the sand but I persevered and collected quite a few stones while it was still quite dark. I made three short trips to and from the van to collect the stones in a plastic bag to then place them in a large bucket I had stored in the van. I should have taken a couple of more trips at that time but I was beginning to feel tired and cold. I could always return later. Before returning indoors on my arrival back home at eight-thirty I decided to make an attempt at sliding the hard neoprene strip back into the guide on the garage door. If my readers will remember it had slid out a couple of weeks ago and I informed the installer to have it repaired. At the time of writing this on the last day of the year there has been no follow-up from them. I will have to inform them it has been repaired. After doing that small job I took a parcel we had received on behalf of our neighbour across the road to give it to her who at the time it arrived wasn’t at home, then I went indoors for my breakfast. E came into the kitchen just as I had finished eating. After breakfast I donned my overalls and went into the garden to empty out the stones and to dig out a couple of montbretia plants.
Still not enough stones to cover the soil so I would have to do some more collecting. With that in mind E and I drove down to the beach in the afternoon and whilst I went to collect more stones she sat inside the van admiring the sea view. From her vantage point however I was invisible because of the intervening sea wall. I collected a small bucket full of stones which I placed in the empty space when we returned home…..
It looks full now but in fact there is space for a few more. I plan to put some other plants in the area later so some of the stones will move to create a space for them. It should then look fuller. (Click on pics to magnify)
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.
By noon on Friday (27) I was worn out but soon after lunch all was right again, though I remained a little tired till bedtime. It all began with my going to bed early the previous night as I was beginning to doze off in the chair around nine o’clock. This meant I fell asleep at ten-thirty as my head hit the pillow and slept through until five o’clock.
I had an appointment with the nurse at the surgery who was to take some blood samples to be sent off for analysis at my doctor’s request following my last visit to see her. The appointment was at five minutes before ten o’clock and I had hours to spare before then. I didn’t arise until seven however and I decided to spend some time on the treadmill before taking a shower and then getting dressed. I couldn’t eat breakfast because I was supposed to fast for at least twelve hours before the blood samples were taken. I hadn’t eaten since six o’clock the previous evening, more than enough lapsed time. I remained hungry therefore until the samples were taken. I walked down to the surgery which is about a half-mile from home. I had put on my walking boots and a suitable coat in order to go for a walk once I had seen the nurse. I probably walked another two miles before reaching the point on the seafront I was aiming for. I ate the banana I had taken with me along the way. No collecting pebbles and stones this time as on my last journey I had collected enough to finish the work I was doing in the flowerbed at home. I was home before noon so whilst it was warm and sunny I thought I’d mow the lawn and hopefully for the last time this year. The grass however was wet with dew as expected but it was the moss that was retaining the water, not the grass. Even so the mower made short work of it. Now I was hungry and tired. I prepared and ate lunch as by now it was one o’clock. Usually I dine with E but she had been busy in her workshop and didn’t arrive downstairs until almost two o’clock. I was too hungry to wait that long. She asked if I had enjoyed the walk, which I always do. I told her I’d cut the lawn since my return which is why I was feeling a little tired and she hadn’t noticed. Our lawnmower like most isn’t exactly quiet but she hadn’t realised the ‘buzzing’ sound she could hear faintly was the mower! Her workshop is at the top of the house though, four levels above the garden and double-glazing seem to be effective in blocking out the world. The day was so pleasant and warm I found a little time to sit on the patio with a coffee in the afternoon. It didn’t last too long though after all it was late October.
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.
After a recent bout of rain we noticed there was a leak in the new raised portion of the garage roof, that is the garage in which I park my van. E’s nephew, a builder, had done the original work and he called back a couple of days after we had informed him of the problem. However, the weather wasn’t particularly good at that time so he put off the repair until Friday last week when it was pleasantly warm outdoors. He cut away the fibreglass covering which had by then set hard as expected but hadn’t adhered to the wood-based sheet beneath it. Water had somehow gotten beneath the covering and leaked onto the floor of the garage. This time he produced a different compound/fibreglass mix which was presumably superior. I asked him how long it would take to dry out and he told me a few days. What he meant was that as soon as it was applied it became waterproof almost immediately but it would take a few days more in which to cure. I hoped he was right, he wouldn’t be happy to have to do the work again. The finished work looks good though, just right in fact. Here is a picture of the area after the grey covering was replaced. Whilst they were doing that work I took the opportunity to shorten the excessively long electrical supply cable to the new door control panel and to tidy up some of the other wiring by using mini-trunking. Now that looks a lot better also. At the time of writing we still haven’t heard from the installers of the garage doors who were to return to install the door alarm system. We are hoping it will have been done by the time this post is published. I can now plan out how I am going to install the circuit to control the main garage light when the door is opened at night. I had to remove the existing circuit I had installed which was operated by the old door. I will carry out the work when I get time.
Earlier in the day I had been working in the rear garden tidying and sweeping up yet more fallen leaves. Already the two bins are again full to the brim though the leaves will compact allowing more to fit in later. Many of the trees still have their leaves and probably won’t lose them yet awhile, maybe by the end of the month. Our apple trees still have their leaves and the only four apples growing on them this year. In fact those four apples are all on the same tree, the largest tree has none. Must be something to do with pruning and the unusual weather we have had this year.
There’s no getting away from it, Autumn is upon us here in the UK. As the temperate areas of the Southern Hemisphere are welcoming Spring, we in the north are moving in the opposite direction. Leaves have been falling from the trees in greater quantities and for anyone living near that means the annual sweeping up of them! It’s either that else let the mess continue. Having a garden is a lovely thing and for those who wish to keep theirs tidy and well-maintained sweeping up the leaves is a must. The problem is the leaves don’t all fall at the same time. A couple of days ago I decided to sweep up as many of the leaves that had fallen as I could, mainly off the pathways because quite simply I got fed-up looking at the state of the garden. As the green waste bins were full after my trimming back the bushes in the front garden there was limited space for any swept-up leaves. I managed however to get them all in by compression. On Wednesday we were expecting another visit from the installers of our new garage door prior to it being installed the following week on Thursday. More accurate measurements were required and an assessment of the preparatory work we had done for the installation was needed. It was just as well I was at home for they had misunderstood my original request to maintain head-clearance and the reason for my having the roof at that point raised to accommodate the unit. They didn’t stop long and after five minutes or so were on their way. They weren’t sure if it would be themselves or the other local crew who would return to carry out the installation. E had been working in her studio during the morning but after lunch she joined with me and we cleared-up the fallen leaves once more but this time we included the lawn. Fortunately we have one of those devices , a rotatory sweeper which sweeps up the leaves into a hopper by simply pushing it along the ground. We had the work done in less than fifteen minutes but then had to put the leaves into one of the builder’s bags we keep in the garage. The green waste bins wouldn’t be emptied until two weeks later so storing the leaves temporarily in the bags was the only option and there would be more leaves to sweep up long before then. Autumn in the garden is never dull, there is always something to do, in fact I have some plans afoot already.
I had placed an order for a new leather-look skirt on Thursday evening (21) and was informed it would arrive the following Monday but as seems to be usual for on-line shopping it was delivered sooner on Saturday 23. I had been woken by the mobile phone jingle that indicated a text message had been received. It was still only seven o’clock in the morning! That meant I had to get up just in case the postman arrived early. He actually arrived at ten-thirty, about his normal time for deliveries at our house. Now I had it in mind to do some work in the garden on Saturday morning whilst we were enjoying a couple of days of dry weather. I had to shelve the idea at least until the postman had arrived. The work I wanted to do was to mix some fine concrete and apply it as a fillet around the stone edging along the flowerbeds where it meets with the footpath. Early in the year I had installed some stones as an edging along the long flowerbed and had applied a thick fillet of concrete. Now I wanted to do the same to three other main beds, around the Mound, alongside the greenhouses and along the west bed. During the summer we had been pestered by ants digging in between the stones and the footpath in those areas leaving as they do the removed soil or sand. I wanted to put a thicker fillet of concrete down to prevent further ant destruction. Having mixed the concrete I got on with the work which took me two hours to complete.
The pictures were taken shortly after the work was completed so there remained the task of cleaning up the concrete from the paths. That couldn’t be done completely until the following day when the fillets had set. As usual click on pictures to magnify or right-click and open in new tab.
Much of the work I have been doing in recent months has been centred upon the rear garden mainly because there is always more to do there. However, though it may seem that the front garden gets neglected that is far from the truth. It simply requires less maintenance than the rear garden. Most of what we do in the front garden is keeping the weeds in check and laying down snail and slug pellets to keep them from devouring the plants. I am not sure how many other areas in the country are so infested with slugs and snails but Southport certainly is. It is only in the last year or so which saw us revamping the front garden flowerbeds. Prior to that it was several years ago, just before we had major renovations done around the garden and house that anything major was done in the front garden. We had three tall pine trees removed and a yew tree cut back a little. We also had removed a hawthorn and a holly tree and they were all just behind the then front wall. The wall was rebuilt with an extra opening in it. Unfortunately I don’t have a picture of the original frontage but only a couple taken just after the new wall was built. By that time all the tall trees had gone..
From the inside the existing shrubs grew to look like this about three years ago but became much taller since this picture was taken…
Those shrubs had beforehand been kept in the shade because of the pine trees and we had left them alone since then which was seven years ago. I had been promising myself that I would cut them back sometime and indeed E has dropped a few hints too! I had been out for a seven-mile walk on Monday morning (18th) so wasn’t particularly looking for much to do but after lunch I set things up and using the hedge cutter set to work. Now it looks like this..
It may not seem that much was removed but in fact they have been cut down more than half a metre. The hardest part of the work, which took me two and a half hours, was putting the cuttings into the bins as most of them needed cutting again to get them in. At least that is one job that won’t need repeating for a time.
I had thought Sunday was going to be dull and windy with a little rain but I was far off the mark: it turned out warm, sunny and dry with just a slight breeze. I had mowed the lawn the day before and I was glad I did for during the early hours of the morning rain did fall and the grass remained wet for a time. What I wanted to do was a little bit of garden maintenance before lunch time such as cutting the flower stems from the Agapanthus plants and saving the seed pods for E. That I did before pruning back the overgrown Lavender shrub which I think has been attempting a take-over of the adjacent plot, the Mound. It has to span the footpath between and had made some progress toward that end. Nice as Lavender is it does like to spread itself about! I read somewhere that very few plants want to grow beneath or too close to Lavender, especially weeds which can’t be a bad thing. I have noticed that to be the case in our garden, at least as far as the weeds are concerned. Other plants don’t seem to mind but I suppose it depends upon the plants. Anyway having done that I went into the front garden to help E with the pruning of plants and shrubs. It would be green bin day on Monday, that is the collection of green waste. This time we had only the one bin full and ready for emptying; next time it would probably be two because of the Autumn leaves. It was around lunch time that we finished. After lunch I decided to move the plant I had been waiting to die-back for the Winter so that I could put another plant in its place. If you remember it is the one against the wall to the right of the new fan palm in the centre of the picture.
I moved this plant much further along in the same border. It will not sprout new leaves until the Spring followed by bright yellow flowers a few weeks later. I planted the Olearia in its place.
The Olearia is an evergreen shrub producing daisy-like flowers in Spring to Summer giving it the nickname of ‘daisy tree’. Hopefully it will grow to a height of two metres and have a spread of about a metre and a half to brighten up the wall. Later we sat out on the patio in the warmth of the sun for an hour or so.
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.
It was one of those days that didn’t know it was still Summer, only a little sunshine but also almost no wind or rain. The rain would fall later in the evening. I had overslept and didn’t get downstairs until eleven o’clock, however it was Sunday and I had nothing special to do except perhaps go for an early morning walk. Well that didn’t happen. Although I arose at nine and was ready to come downstairs for a belated breakfast at ten I decided instead to clean out the gutter and brush off some moss which gathers on the sloping roof beneath my bedroom windows..(upper-left in picture)
I have a long piece of wood adapted at the end to reach into the gutter from the windows to get at the moss which falls into it. The gutter is over a metre out and at least a half-metre below my window s so it isn’t easy to reach. In the past I used the 7 metre high tower to reach the gutter and the roof but even then it is at a stretch. The gutter is around 7 metres from the ground! The day was sunny at that time and E and I sat out on the patio before lunchtime for a while. We decided to put the new washing line pole into the tube I had set in concrete the day before and sealed it at the joint using silicone rubber.
When we get a new line we will use the new pole and abandon the old one (behind the holly on the left above). The afternoon went dull and overcast but remained fairly warm so E and I did a little pruning and tidying up before returning indoors for the day. In the meantime I took these pictures….
In the next month or so things will look entirely different as Autumn comes knocking. I will then be able to do some outdoor work, filling in the edges of the edging stones around the Mound and flowerbed. Why then? There will be no ants trying to bite me whilst I am doing it!
You must have heard the expression but if not….’A blind man on a galloping horse, won’t notice’……well that can’t be anything else but true, if you could have blind men riding horses at such a pace! It’s an expression used when excuses for something we have done is not appearing quite right. I didn’t go for a walk on Friday because I wanted to press on with building the column for the proposed gate I want to make. I didn’t wish to be tired from walking whilst knowing I had the work to do during a dry spell in the weather. I began the work at ten o’clock and was finished as far as I could go before twelve-thirty. I completed the column but have yet to fit a capstone. The capstone you see in the pictures is twisted and isn’t cemented to the column. I have never seen a piece of twisted capstone before but yes this piece is definitely twisted. It is also too long. I shall have to purchase another…
Anyway E came to inspect the finished work but before she could say anything I quipped ‘A blind man on a galloping horse won’t notice’. Well it looks alright but it isn’t perfect, just near enough! I could have said it is perfect as long as you don’t look at it or anyone living in Australia can’t see it. Actually it isn’t that bad at all. My next task, apart from buying a capstone is to begin manufacturing a gate, hopefully from timber I have in stock. It may be a while before that job is done but there’s no hurry. After lunch E and I sat out in the sunshine though it was still quite windy. Later I took a few minutes to mow the lawn whilst I had the chance, we were expecting some rain. I did however water the garden just in case it didn’t rain.