I could make any day a nice day in which to potter about but usually I have something bigger to do or something more important. That’s not to say that pottering about is less important for I believe pottering about is beneficial to our well-being. We can wander about aimlessly without being under pressure and find so many little things to do which ought to be done but get left behind in the great scheme of things we call our lives. It is in the execution of these small tasks that we often find the greatest pleasure. Monday was the beginning of yet another week though for me that has begun more and more to be of less significance as each day is taken the same. I often forget which day it is I have to say. I have been taking a break from heavy work, from projects, from anything inside the house lately and have concentrated mainly on working (and pottering) in the gardens. If you’d have asked me five years ago what I like about gardening I would have told you I hate gardening. How times and attitudes have changed for me, now I enjoy the work no matter what that work might be. I treat gardening as a never-ending project and work at it in the same way as with any other project I undertake though those projects obviously do end. At the beginning of this week I have nothing set in mind to do so I suppose I will be pottering about a lot. This morning (4 th) I emptied out one of the two industrial bags which are filled with the sand I removed during the construction of the pit in the cellar a couple of months ago.
It occupied the area where you can now see a dark wet space right of centre in the picture above. It was the same sized bag as the white one top centre which is still full of sand. That one will most probably remain there for some time because it is out-of-the-way where it is.. The emptied sand was put into smaller plastic bags and is now stored in the garage to the right out of the picture. The area in the picture is that which is first seen when exiting the cellar into the rear garden. During the Autumn leaves accumulate mostly on the right in the picture so I have been endeavouring to keep it as tidy as possible to make sweeping the leaves up easier to do as well as making it less of an eyesore. I took the following pictures on the day of things around the garden.The apples beginning to grow,
Under the apples trees,
Under the little oak tree,
Behind the apple trees the potatoes and rhubarb (of which some has already ended up in a rhubarb crumble),
and finally some of the baby beetroot plants we put into this raised bed and elsewhere
The beetroot are those without the flowers in case you were wondering!
I’ve said it once but I’ll say it again, I am an Anglo-Saxon. I am certain my roots are from the north rather than the south and by that I mean temperate climes. I am not designed for life in the heat so when it gets too hot I suffer, I droop, I lose energy and wish it was cooler. I suppose my ideal temperature is eighteen degrees Celsius with a relative humidity of fifty percent. Not too much to ask in the country in which I was born and raised, England but often it gets far warmer than that here and far colder too. I could write a book about the English weather as could many who live here. It is Monday (28) as I write this and the day has been very warm and sticky, well for me anyway. The actual temperature outdoor rose to 23 or 24 deg. though in the direct sunshine on the patio it was far greater than that. My early morning duty to water the two gardens kept me occupied for a couple of hours. At this moment in time I am having to water both gardens twice each day because we have had very little rain save for a few hours a day or so ago. It looks as though it will be Friday before it rains again if we are lucky. As I am retired it doesn’t matter that I have to look after the gardens so closely for I now have the time to do it. I don’t much like being uncomfortable in the heat without having somewhere I can escape from it whilst being able to stay outdoors. I had put up the parasol on the patio so I could keep out of the sun but there is another place, a quiet place where I can sit if it gets too hot and it stays cool there throughout the year. I am referring to the rear of the garage nearest the patio where there is a stone bench, the one I built last year.
The sun never reaches that area close to the garage wall so it remains cool all the time. It has views over the raised flowerbed looking toward the patio so isn’t a boring place.Late in the afternoon E and I planted out fourteen of the beetroot seedlings. We put them in the three raised beds on the patio amongst the plants already there. The remaining plants we will place in the flowerbed in front of the greenhouses amongst the flowers and shrubs. As we have potato and rhubarb growing in the dedicated raised bed between the greenhouses there is nowhere else we can grow them. It was after six o’clock when E and I finally went indoors for the day and into a cooler place.
It was Thursday morning and I had the unenviable task of doing the weekly shopping once again. E had been taking things easy for the past few weeks in order to recuperate but had in fact driven herself and her mom into town yesterday. Maybe next week she will resume doing the shopping but if not it will be down to me again. Actually next Thursday (31) I have a dental appointment late morning so will have to shop early if it falls to me to do the shopping. I digress. Today therefore I went shopping early and about an hour after returning home first went into the front garden to water it with the hose then I got out the larger watering can in order to apply a weed-killer/lawn feed mixture onto the lawn in the rear garden. Last year after doing exactly the same the lawn looked much better having been rid of the weeds and moss. It took about six cans to cover the lawn and not long after I had finished I could see it taking effect as the moss began to turn black. Having already mentioned to E that I would like to leave the house together for a few hours she went to dress whilst I was doing the lawn treatment. I had left the van on the driveway on my return from the supermarket rather than putting it in the garage as I would normally do for I was determined to go out for the afternoon. We drove down to the pub/restaurant about two miles away and had a meal there. It is a well-known local eatery offering a set meal or something from the carvery.
We chose the carvery as most people would do dining there. One thing you can say about a carvery is its value for money, as many vegetables as you can eat together with your choice of meats and a one-off payment (£2) for an unlimited amount of soft drinks of choice add to accompany it. We paid a mere £19 for two with drinks included. After the meal we drove off to the garden centre and browsed for more plants to put in the gardens. This time we purchased Verburnum Davidii (a large shrub), Lewisia, Diascia, Weigela Foliis Purpureis, Jacobinia, Oxalis and Alstroemeria (smaller shrubs and plants).
I name them for the botanists and gardeners who may be reading. We planted them immediately upon returning home late in the afternoon. Three went into the front garden beds and the remaining seven into the rear garden beds. I think the only other planting out will be the beetroot presently growing in pots in the greenhouse and we plan to put them among the plants in the flowerbeds in the near future. The last task of the day was to water the rear garden plants with the hose. Overnight and throughout the whole day tomorrow, Friday, we have been informed to expect heavy rain. For a few days after we are told it will get very warm and dry.
In yesterday’s post I talked about buying new plants for the gardens and some of them are in the pictures I post today.For the gardeners amongst you the top two are Ceanothus and Viburnum and have been planted in the front garden, The rest include Dwarf Pinks, Geum, Calceolaria, Saxifraga, Phlox, Aquilegia, Viola (more than one variety), Dianthus, Gypsophila Festival White, Azalea, Phylliopsis, Agapanthus and Erysimum have all been planted in the rear garden. I took this photo of the beetroot plants being nurtured in the greenhouse. They should be ready for planting out soon.
In the trays at the far top right a few melon seeds have been planted by E and some of them have begun to grow. Maybe we’ll have a few melons to eat later in the year too! This morning (15 th) I spread out the bag of tree bark chippings we had stored but it could only cover part of one bed. I shall have to purchase more this week. Apart from making the beds look much tidier it can help keep the weeds at bay and also help keep the soil from drying out in the hot sun. This morning I also gave the cellar storage room floor its second and final coat of paint. After touching up the wall paint where I have not been able to avoid splashing it in red paint the room should have returned into service by the weekend.
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?
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 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.
For some apparent reason soon after I arrived downstairs for my breakfast on Wednesday morning I began to feel chest pains. Now immediately you might be thinking, heart attack, angina or some other debilitating symptom but I am glad to report it was none of those things. The pain was over my right breast, on the surface, that is it was emanating from my muscles there. They were sharp and intermittent, one minute all was well and the next it wasn’t. After a while the pain moved to the centre of my chest as if it were indigestion. I was tired too because I didn’t get to sleep until after two o’clock and even then it was restless. Anyhow I realised the pains were due to a digestion problem of one sort or another and typical of a reaction to certain foods or even trapped air. I had eaten a breakfast consisting of mainly fruit however so that might have triggered a reaction though I don’t usually suffer eating fruit. A toilet visit helped and I deliberately skipped lunch except for a warm glass of milk sweetened with honey. Gradually over the day things improved and by evening I was as right as rain as they say. That was the not so nice part of my day. As I hadn’t been feeling too well I did no work but spent the day relaxing. I was looking out of the kitchen window admiring the flowers on some of the shrubs we have planted so I went outside and took a couple of photographs. I had already taken some a few days earlier too. This was the lovely part of the day, being able to see some of the new shrubs flowering for the first time since planting…
Because the shrubs are infants I didn’t expect too many flowers and especially with the ones only planted in the Autumn last year. I am hoping there will be far more as the shrubs grow larger. I was happy to see the results of all my hard work over the last eight months.
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!
The gardens are changing, especially the rear one which has seen more alterations and additions in recent years. That is not to say the front garden hasn’t changed, it has done over the years and more recently last year when the two flowerbeds in front of the house were completely made over. Apart from the work which has been done by myself to improve things it is now Spring and the gardens are changing because of that too as dormant plants awaken and evergreens sprout their flowers. After a lovely warm, dry and sunny weekend including Monday, everything changed on Tuesday. Although it did get warmer and sunnier in the afternoon the day began quite cold and overcast. It was definitely not as warm as it had been and the weather forecast indicated rain in the days ahead. I had finished the stone edging along the long flowerbed and decided to ‘age’ its appearance because the cemented joints were too white. I took a large bucket and part-filled it with water. I took the sweeping brush, dipping it into the water then on to the bare soil in the border I brushed over the cemented joints and the pathway. When dry everything looked as if it had been there for years, which is what I had intended. That done I returned indoors for my bag and coat, yes it was cold enough to warrant the coat, and I drove off to ‘Dobbies‘ and purchased five shrubs. They cost me just short of £100. They were not destined for the long flowerbed even though it needs filling out, they were destined for the west wall flowerbed to fill in spaces there. I am hanging back from populating the long flowerbed too much as I want to make sure no more bluebells will sprout up this season. I know there will be some perhaps next year but hopefully they will be few. In the meantime, unless I change my mind, I am allowing those shrubs I have already planted there to fill out. E would dearly love to put flowers along the bed but until we can guarantee there being few if any bluebells it would be a waste of time. I have moved so many small plants in The Mound when digging out bluebells. So I planted the new shrubs in the West Wall bed..
They are, one at the far right and top against the wall in the picture, two and three dead centre at top against the wall, four dead centre of picture and five immediately behind the small edging stone at centre bottom of picture. Their names…..Ligustrum (Ovalifolium), Griselinia (Green Horizon), Prunus (Etna), Prunus (Novita), and Elaeagnus Viveleg.