Getting motivated

Hangover Square (film)
Hangover Square (film) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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.

Shirley Anne.


I didn’t but…

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

Lovely and not nice

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.

Shirley Anne

Unless you’re a duck!

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


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.

Shirley Anne

Bloomin’ bluebells!

It has been a few days since I did any more work in removing the bluebell bulbs and now growing plants in the rear garden. I had reached a spot just up to the little oak tree and there remained the area to its right and beyond though thankfully there seem to be only a few there. I have dug out around a dozen bulbs in the front right-hand flowerbed that had escaped filtering last year when I renovated the bed but as I write this I notice a few more beginning to show themselves. I am letting them grow just a little more so that I can locate them more easily when I dig them out within the next couple of days or weeks. Back to the rear garden though and here is the oak tree and the area beneath it and up to the stone markers I have placed in the soil which is now filtered. No doubt I will have missed some, hopefully few,long-flowerbed-9

I am thinking of moving or removing altogether the little small-leaved holly at the rear by the wall and just to the right of those markers. There is another one further along and to its right beyond the edge of the picture. I spent three hours on Sunday morning to reach this point. I have raised the supporting bamboo pole that supports the variegated holly shown in the next picture and it is now standing upright when once it lay at 45 degrees. It had been struggling to  reach daylight because of the trees that were there surrounding it. I removed those trees last year as a prelude to the current work of clearing out the flowerbed. Toward the other end of the bed in this picture is another variegated holly which had been suffering a similar fate until I cleared around it and gave it the support it needed. As you can see it is thriving and it is upright.long-flowerbed-8

It may be a day or two before I can resume working in the garden but at least much has been done and the majority of the bulbs have been removed through hard work and perseverance. As always,click on the pictures to magnify.

Shirley Anne

On my knees 2

Scuffin' Those Knees
Scuffin’ Those Knees (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Okay, I ran out of titles……..I continued with the work on the flowerbed on Tuesday morning but all I had to do was to mix some smooth concrete and fill-in the spaces between the stone slabs and rocks. Still it took me almost two hours to mix the concrete, use it and then tidy everything away but I wasn’t in a hurry. All the work meant spending more time on my knees (hence the title). I didn’t use the gardening kneeling stool but a thick cushion directly on the ground or rather the pathway. It meant I could get closer to the ground than if I had used the stool. Most of the concrete was placed using just my gloved hand as using a tool would have been awkward. It was another dry day which turned into a blue sky day with lots of sunshine. After lunch I even sat out on the patio for an hour it was so nice. I spent some time thinking about which plants to buy with which to populate the flowerbed. At the time of writing I haven’t as yet made up my mind. These days one can plant at any time of year within reason for the plants are potted so the roots don’t get disturbed. Protection from frost is the most important thing to consider especially if the plants are not yet established. According to the weather forecast we will experience cold nights from now on. As I live on the coast the temperature is likely to be a little above freezing. Of course it does get colder sometimes. Tomorrow as write this I have a dental appointment just before lunch so I won’t have time for work. I might browse the garden centre for plants instead. I will post another picture after I have planted any plants I may purchase in the meantime.

Shirley Anne

The long weekend

Here in the UK we had another of our ‘Bank holiday Mondays’ break, a long weekend free from work for those who are employees. Those who are self-employed may or may not treat these extra days as a holiday and ever since I became self-employed I haven’t always observed the extra day off. This time I planned working at home on my project on Saturday and Monday. After breakfast on Saturday morning I part-emptied my van once more and drove off to a merchant who sells everything you might need for gardening projects from paving stones, natural stone, wooden or concrete fencing as well as plants and many other things. It is a relatively new establishment, maybe of five years standing and has grown considerably in that time. It was September/October last year when I last visited the place. I had bought natural stone slabs when constructing the flowerbeds on the patio. This visit was for the same thing, natural stone slabs for topping my latest brick construction. I chose not to drive directly home but to visit my local garden centre for a few plants. The other merchant has as yet a limited stock of plants and none that I wanted. I bought six plants, five to go in the new bed and one to be planted alongside. When I got back home I took to shovelling more soil  into the bed. I placed the natural stone slabs on top of the walls as a temporary measure basically to see how much I would need to cut off to make them fit properly when I came to cement them in place permanently. They would also keep the tops of the walls dry and prevent the holes in the top of the bricks from filling up with water when it rained. Rain was forecast for Saturday night. Having done that I dug in the new plants……Plot 14

The plants are at the rear (left-hand side) two ‘Myrtifolia‘ which can grow to a height of 7 ft (2.1 m) with a 6 ft (1.8 m) spread. When mature the two will form a high backdrop hedge. They are evergreen, have white flowers followed by black berries. In front of them are three plants, none of which are evergreen, one ‘Thunbergii atropurpurea’ otherwise known as ‘Red Chief’ which stands next to the high wall at the rear. It has pale yellow flowers in Spring and bright red berries in Autumn. The other two are facing the Laurel bushes next to the patio. They are ‘Berberis Admiration’, commonly called ‘Japanese Berberry’. They have pale yellow flowers and crimson berries in the Winter and drop their leaves in Autumn.  I may decide to put in a couple more evergreen shrubs but smaller to fill in the spaces later. The sixth plant, another Laurel but with coppery-orange coloured new foliage I placed in the ground alongside the structure and against the rear high wall. It will grow to a height of 8 ft (2.4 m) with a spread of 6 ft (1.8 m). It will cover the wall in that position. Incidentally, click on the picture to magnify and again to get a closer look. In a very rare moment I caught E in a picture for she doesn’t like having her picture taken, so she says. She is sitting on the patio reading in the bright late morning sunshine. I write this on Saturday evening and hope to continue with the work on Monday if the weather holds and if my electrical services are not required.

Shirley Anne