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.
It may be the end of the year, the last few days, I write this on 28th, but life doesn’t stop. Creatures of habit like me continue on as normal. A day is a day just like any other so I do pretty much the same as I do at any time throughout the year. I have been working on a very small plot in the garden and wanted to add some natural stone as I had done in the much larger plot we call the west bed. That simply means the bed is on the western side of the garden. This one however is on the opposite side. I had over the months gathered many stones from the beach to cover that plot and recently collected more to put in this one too but a small bucket-full is far from enough as you can see….(click on image to magnify)
They barely cover the soil around the plant, the new fan palm at the end of the flowerbed. I did realise I would need more but the idea is not to fully cover the soil as there will be some small flowering plants placed there later. Maybe another bucket of stones will be enough. On my morning walk on Thursday (28) I collected enough to half-fill a bucket so it shouldn’t take long to collect what I want. These stones I might add are what were left behind after the construction of the sea defence wall many years ago. The construction company I suppose couldn’t be bothered to remove them else were unable to remove them all. Already I have been digging out some montbretia plants from the main flowerbed in the garden on the north side. They are the ones I missed when I cleared them from the bed at the beginning of the year along with bluebells. I have no doubts I shall be digging more out as the new year begins. It isn’t that I don’t like the flowers, it’s just that they grow like weeds and want to take over the garden! E and I have been putting seeds out on the bird table and some ‘fat balls’ in the feeder but it isn’t just the birds who eat them, we have a small family of grey squirrels who like them too. They eat the fat balls through the wire cage and the birds peck them in turn. A few days ago I made some alterations to the bird table in order to keep the larger birds such as pigeons, jackdaws and gulls from feeding there and leaving nothing for the many smaller birds such as tits, wagtails, and the robin we get here. We do put seed and other food on the grass to accommodate the larger birds. However, the squirrels can and do climb the pole to reach the table and can still enter the protected table to feed. This picture was taken before I altered the access but as I said, they can still gain entry which is fine.
After my morning exercises on the gym equipment followed by some gardening later I rested for the remainder of Christmas Day. I wasn’t going anywhere and had no visitors. E went to her mom’s house for the day to meet with her family and I had the day to myself. I had planned to go for an afternoon walk but changed that idea and decided I would take one on Tuesday instead. I usually take my walks on days I am not using the equipment and Tuesday would be one of those days. However after arising early to do just that I again had a change of heart. It was a holiday after all so I took the day off. No exercising on the equipment, no walks, I was going to treat myself. Wednesday would see my exercise regime resume its routine. What was I going to do with myself? I just cannot sit around too long, I am not that type of person, I have to be doing something. I ended up doing some gardening, sweeping up more leaves and sorting out some of the last remaining natural stone pieces to see what I could use to fill in the space behind the newly planted fan palm. The small patch once occupied by the rhubarb I moved was separated from the rest of the flowerbed by a length of stone and other stone pieces were fitted to two of the other sides. The fourth side at the rear is adjacent to the concrete path behind it but I wanted to put some stone slabs there to prevent soil over spill and to improve the appearance. It was the only flowerbed in the garden not completely walled-in so to speak so it needed doing anyway. Having searched through our small stock of stones, bricks and concrete pieces I found four pieces of stone which would fit perfectly along the rear of the small bed but I was prevented from further work because of the rain showers. I hoped Wednesday would see better weather and allow me time to do the work. I’ll let you know one way the another. When out in the garden I noticed many of the bulbs we have in pots near the patio have sprouted up quite some way ready to flower in the weeks ahead. They seem to be appearing sooner this season because of the mild weather. I hope it lasts.
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.
I went for another long walk on Wednesday (25) and at the same time gathered some pebbles and stones for the garden. For the past few weeks I have been doing this. I take along a small shoulder bag and fill it with the stones of which there are many lying on the beach. Gradually I collected enough for what I wanted them for, putting in one of the flowerbeds in the rear garden. The pebbles and stones are not native to the beach at Southport for it is one of those beaches where only sand can be found, apart from coal, marram grass and a few other plant species. The stones and pebbles are what remain from the construction of sea defences built a few years ago and were simply not removed. Why would they be?
The stones are there for the picking though I suppose not many folk do. In fact I never did until recently. A few posts ago I wrote about coal deposits on the shore here at Southport. That is the only other thing apart from sea shells of course which can be freely collected when it is washed up on the shore.
Just a few more and there will be enough to complete those parts of the bed I wish to cover. The exposed soil you see in the pictures above will be filled with small flowers, the leaves of which can be seen in front of the stones. They have yet to grow but the variety of plant does eventually spread to give the cover and colour required. In the picture below the same variety of plant is in amongst the stones and around the base of the holly tree trunk in the centre of the picture.
When in bloom they have yellow, red and purple flowers. They are more or less maintenance free too which is a bonus. A week or so back I posted a picture of a couple of ‘mums’ just beginning to bloom as they do in October. I took these pictures on Wednesday too…
A few months ago E mentioned that she was up on the raised ‘secret garden’ as we now fondly call it and when she decided she wanted to come down she told me that she had nearly walked off the area between the two sets of steps we have there….
The drop there as you can see in the above picture (centre bottom) is around 750 mm onto the paving below which would prove to be nasty for anyone not realising it was there. A small wall could have been built but as the area slopes down toward the drop and has to it would have caused water to build-up behind it. The plan was always to put either a large statue there or some potted plants but because the sun only shines there for a couple of weeks at the height of summer any plants would suffer being in the shade most of the year. The plants in the raised bed are in sunshine for six months at least but nearer to the rear of the garage (to the left in the picture) the sun doesn’t shine at all. The only real solution was to put artificial plants there. Initially E and I drove to Dobbies to see what was available but a member of staff informed us that they had stopped selling artificial plants of the type we wanted. A wasted journey we thought so we drove off to town to look in another store. That proved to be a wasted journey also but we persevered and drove back to Dobbies just to make sure there was nothing available. As it is the approach to Christmas we decided an artificial fir-tree might be suitable. Most of the trees there however were constructed using wire which wouldn’t be suitable for outdoors though we did see one small one entirely made of plastic. We bought it. Whilst there we looked in the indoor garden section as discovered that they did have something suitable for outdoors and we bought two of them. When we returned home and in an instant we had solved the ‘falling off the edge’ problem, and here they are
The best part is they don’t require much in the way of after-care! Not a wasted journey after all.
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.
E has been her usual self, winning prizes seems to come naturally for her. I have lost count of the things she has won over the last few years, holidays, tvs, cameras, books, furniture, the list goes on. It was Monday morning the second day of the month and we were in the dining area alongside the kitchen just talking and looking out the window at the garden when the doorbell rang. I went to see who it was and it was the postman delivering a parcel, two parcels to be precise for he called a minute later with the second. E had no idea what was in the parcel though it was addressed to her. Eagerly opening it she discovered it was the prize she had recently won in a competition, a bird box as we call them here. It had been manufactured in Holland and was labelled a three level bird ‘flat’ (apartment). It was my job to mount it on the wall, the only place suitable for it to go given the preferences….
…and the close-up showing access panels on the side for each level should they need to be cleaned out…
We are hoping the box will get more cover as the plants below grow taller. Now that I was out in the garden I decided to do a couple of small jobs one of which was to sweep up the enormous piles of leaves that always accumulate by the cellar door leading out to the garden and in one or two other places around the house building. My other job was to shave off a little wood from the new passageway gate I had constructed a couple of months ago. It had expanded in the cool, humid weather as wood does. In the warmer and dryer months the wood shrinks a little so the gate fitted perfectly when I made it. I had forgotten to allow for the normal expansion of the timber. Despite the high winds we were experiencing on Monday it remained pleasant and warm throughout the day.
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.
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.
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.
No walk for me on Wednesday morning, I wanted to get on with some work in the rear garden. For some time I have promised myself I would do something with the remaining long length of natural stone we had discovered buried with all the other stone a few years ago whilst we were digging out the ground behind what is now the Mound.
We had found such a large amount buried we were able to use it in various places around the garden as you might know if you’ve read my posts over the last three years or so. I decided to construct a stone seat in the area we now affectionately call The Secret Garden, once The Plot. There is a space immediately behind the garage which never sees the Sun. It is a great place to sit for a time to cool off when the weather is hot and sunny but the location isn’t exactly what you might call romantic though the view forward is pleasant sitting close to a water-butt and a compost bin which looks like a ‘Dalek‘ I would think isn’t.
A plant or two either of which prefer total shade or a couple of artificial plants might make it more attractive and perhaps that is what I will consider later. The work involved constructing the two small brick pillars and setting the stone slab on top and I had it done in an hour.
My next job will be to lower the drain pipe to below seat level and maybe construct a back rest fitted to the garage wall which shouldn’t take long once I decide to do it. Whilst I had some mortar I cut the stone cap and fixed it to the top of the brick pillar which I had built a couple of weeks ago but hadn’t been able to cut the stone at that time.
Finally I mixed some fine-grained concrete and set the stones around the base of the recently installed washing line post to complete that job too. I took the afternoon off and lounged about on the patio in the warm sunshine with E. Yes, it turned out much warmer than Tuesday had been (see yesterday’s post).
E and I had been invited to a garden centre end of season sale with stock selling at reduced prices. The centre is one we have used before of course though of late we now tend to use Dobbies for our gardening needs. This other centre is about six or seven miles from home whereas Dobbies is just over one mile away. I get discounts at Dobbies throughout the year. We arrived at the centre with time to spare handing in our signed invitation to get access. We had no idea if we would buy anything or not but ended up purchasing two plants, a garden ornament in the shape of an owl, a bird table, some weed killer and some lawn feed spending around seventy to eighty pounds in the process.
In the top picture are the Azalea (right) and a Dahlia shrub (left) both in their pots until I get to plant them later. The owl is in the middle picture and of course the new bird bath is in the lower picture. We waited about an hour looking out of the kitchen windows before the first bird took a bath in it. The robin which lives in a bush nearby was the first partaker and he loved it so much we were wondering if he’d ever get out! Before driving home we decided to visit Dobbies, initially for the free coffee we get each month but to also browse around. We ended up purchasing two more plants, a Fan Palm and an Olearia. Both can grow to a height of over two metres. We already have a Fan Palm but that one is classed as a dwarf palm as it only grows to a height of around one metre. As an extra bonus we discovered that there were two Fan Palms in the same pot and selling for the price of one. Maybe you can see that there are two plants in the right-hand pot. That means we can plant in two different places. We dropped the goods off at home before driving off to a local pub for lunch. It was on our return home that we set up the bird table.
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!
Wednesday had been a really hot day, well insofar as it normally gets around here it was hot. Although the average temperature only hovered around 21 deg C there was no wind. Out on the patio it was a sun-trap and probably hotter. Doing anything much was out of the question soon after midday. In the morning I had spent an hour or so in the front garden chopping down an unruly and overgrown tree. I am not sure it could be called a tree as such but it grew from a central base from which several ‘trunks’ and smaller shoots rose into the air to a height of four metres. Here it is to the left of the tall holly tree ( picture taken earlier in the year ).Many drooping purple-coloured flowering heads hung down among the leaves. It had begun to mingle in the branches of the large holly tree too. I say ‘chopped’ it down but in fact I had to use a saw, the axe simply bounced off the stems if used. E and I spent an hour cutting down the branches in order to place them in the wheelie bins. We neither of us worked during the afternoon but spent it, most of it, on the patio. The root ‘ball’ would have to be dealt with another day. On Thursday morning therefore I donned my overalls, boots and gloves to get stuck into digging it out. The day was beginning to get hot so I had little time in which to do it. However, I first had to saw off the remains of the trunks and offshoots in order to get at it. Another go with the axe proved useless though had access been better it might have worked. It would take a lot of time and effort to shift the roots which undoubtedly were mingling with the roots of the other plants and trees there. I had to give up on the whole idea. I remember the problems we’d had removing two other trees of the same variety when we started work on constructing the Mound in the rear garden a few years ago. They took a long time to dig out even though we had open access. It was only recently that I had cut up the remains of those root balls which after those three or four years had finally begun to dry out. Here they are on the ground which I have since worked on and call the Plot (bottom picture)
Even then it was hard work cutting them. At the moment of writing this I am not sure what we’ll do about removing the one in the front garden border. I have to check out and research some possible solutions, perhaps pouring herbicides into holes drilled into it to kill it off. I do remember I used salt around the roots on those other two plants which did stop them from growing new shoots but of course salt would kill off the other nearby plants too in this instance. Soon after I had stopped work I sat in the rear garden in the shade for a short time before an old customer called me asking if I would solve a couple of electrical problems for her. The work was local, easy and paid well. How could I refuse?