At last I finished work on the ceiling in the small lounge. I started Tuesday tidying up the paint work on the two stripes which encircle the cornice or coving (see yesterday’s post for pictures). It is difficult trying to obtain perfectly straight lines when doing this kind of work simply because of the abnormalities in the plaster work and consequently touching-up the paint afterward is often necessary. I spent an hour and a half before lunch and an hour after lunch to get it to a reasonably good finish. Whilst doing that work I took the opportunity to give the frieze another coat of paint, making three in all. Just after lunch I was looking out of one of the rear windows and took these two pictures
The time was one-thirty BST or half-past twelve GMT. The first picture is pointing directly northward. I only took them to indicate how much sunshine actually reaches the garden in the middle of the day in the month of April. The shadow will be closer to the house at Midsummer. The garden was in full sunshine during the morning as the sun was in the east and to the right in these pictures. When it swings around to the west most of the garden is again in full sunshine even at this time of year. The garden at the front points roughly south-west so gets the full sun most of the day.
Anyway back to work…I resumed painting the ceiling before moving on to apply paint primer to as much of the wood work as I could before deciding I’d had enough for one day.
Applying the primer has exposed numerous holes and gaps in the window frame though I knew there were some beforehand. Now I have to fill them all in before applying a second coat. At this point in time I guess I have covered about half of the wood work. It is taking much longer to do the work as I am doing it alone but I reckon I am doing well after only five days.
I remember over the last few years how each Springtime we had to remove the sycamore seedlings from the lawn and borders by plucking them out by hand. That can be done very easily when they are small, it gets more difficult when they are left to sprout more leaves than the two they have at that stage for by then the roots will have grown deeper too. This year there have been far fewer that have needed removing and that was entirely due to the fact that in late Autumn last year I vacuumed the leaves from the lawn and obviously the seed pods too. I hope I can report the same next year and, dare I say, bluebells either! Since E has taken less interest in the gardens lately, that is over the past couple of years, I have become increasingly interested. Yes, I have done structural alterations and E has helped with some of that work but I have taken a greater interest in populating the gardens with new and varied plants. It has fallen to me to do most of the maintenance also, well I have spent much of my life maintaining one thing or another, including electrical engineering! Seems I was born to maintain things. As I grow older any work I will do anywhere but especially in the gardens will be maintenance. I am writing this on Tuesday afternoon (28 March) after returning indoors because it is now raining. I took a couple of pictures from my kitchen/dining room window…
I think the rain makes everything look fresh and clean. In the last picture you can see the white blossom on the plum trees and there is a lot of it this year. I wonder if there will be more fruit too?
As always click on the pictures to magnify.
I might as well retire from electrical work for again on Monday I hadn’t any. I shouldn’t speak too soon though because that can change in an instant. As it happened Monday was a fine day and it enabled me to get out in the garden once more. Now it was that once my electrical work was hard-going at times but now the only hard work, that is physically hard work I do is either in the house or in the gardens. My current project has definitely been hard-going. Digging out bluebells so deep beneath the surface is very tiring especially as I have spent hours at a time doing it! On Monday my main aim was to concentrate on installing a stone edging to the long flowerbed and I got this far with it…..(as always, click on pictures to magnify).
What slowed me down, apart from heaving the stones into position was the fact that I had also been digging out bluebells in the bed behind it. I see one and dig deep to get at it but it isn’t alone and I ended up digging lots of them. What is heartbreaking is that as I think I’ve finished digging them out I notice another and so on. These are sprouting up in ground I had already filtered! It proves they are elusive but I leave them till they appear at the surface. It’s all I can do. Anyway it looked as though I might not have enough slabs to finish the edging so I decided to use the ones in the Mound and elsewhere, replacing them with large stones instead. When I went to The Mound to see what I could use I saw more bluebells around the slabs so digging them out became my task for an hour or so. It is unbelievable how many times I have revisited The Mound to dig out bluebells….This time I began just on the other side of the dwarf conifer in the foreground and ended up at the back of the Mound as I saw more of them to dig out. I also removed the stone slabs which were surrounding the Phoenix Canariensis in the west wall flowerbed and tidied up the area…
The Phoenix Canariensis is almost dead centre in the picture. Whilst working in the area I put more soil in the bed where I had been working a day or two earlier removing some large slabs of stone. As I am the only one working in the garden the work is taking a lot of time to do. In all I spent about five and a half hours in the garden. Monday was the day the green waste was collected and our two wheelie bins are no longer full of bluebells! However, I do have to empty out the builders bag which is full of them too! That can be done at any time though, there is no hurry, there is too much else to do in the meantime.
The weather forecast for Saturday looked promising, no rain until evening though a few isolated spells of rain might be possible during the day. I was happy with that as I wanted to do some more work in the rear garden. The main project I have at the moment is to install a stone edging along the length of the long flowerbed. The bluebell removal project is ongoing though the bulk of the work you could say is done. It will take a long time to dig out the new ones as they appear and at this moment in time work on that small task is frequent. During the other work I was doing on Saturday I noticed quite a number of bluebells in different places which I dug out immediately. It would appear that I may not need to purchase any stone to install the edging as we had some stored and I planned to dig out some more from the west wall flowerbed. This was how that spot looked on Friday….. Now it looks like this as I had dug out five large slabs and also some large stones as you can see…….
Those stones and slabs I moved here…….
The slabs count three from the left then a stone then two more slabs. The other slabs and stones I put there on Friday. I emptied the soil that we had stored in the white builder’s bag to fill the space that resulted from digging out the slabs. This picture was taken sometime last year I think. More work has gone on in the area since then….
Like this for instance……..
We will need more soil to top it off but though we have plenty of soil over the other side of the garden in the Corner Plot there could be some bluebell seedlings in it. In that part of the Plot it is more likely there are montbretia bulbs in it. One thing I noticed when working in that spot was the lack of any plant life below a few centimetres, not like I found in the main flowerbed. I will probably use the soil therefore which is nearest the back wall in the Corner Plot…….
Notice something missing? The yellow builder’s bag I was using to dump the bluebells because the two wheelie bins were full to the brim. I dragged the bag to the spot the white bag had occupied. When the wheelie bins are emptied I will be able to empty the contents of the bag into them…
….and these are the smaller stones I have removed from the ground during the work and there are still more to pick up and no doubt still to dig out yet….
It was one-thirty when I decided to stop for the day and as I did the rain began to fall but it was only very light and soon stopped. Our regular delivery girl brought yet another parcel for E. We chatted about work. She told me she was feeling a little tired to which I replied the same. I invited her to step into the house and on into the kitchen to have a look at the rear garden where I have been working. I think she was surprised at what she saw. As we moved back to the front garden for her to resume her deliveries she pointed to a couple of bluebells in one of the flowerbeds. That was it! When she’d gone I set about digging them out before finally returning indoors for a belated lunch.
One might think by now I would have very few bluebells to dig out of the flowerbeds and by and large I have but no. If I calculate the percentage of bulbs I have removed I would estimate more than 95% and if I say I have removed well over eight thousand and probably over nine thousand there must be at least a thousand hiding from me! I work in bucketfuls and on Thursday I dug out another bucketful of them which would be three or four hundred. I suspect my calculations are inaccurate though and I’ve only dug out 90%. They just keep appearing in the areas I have been over two or three times. The strange thing is this, that the area which held the majority of them has far fewer appearing than elsewhere. I suppose that is due to the fact that it is an open border and I was able to systematically move along easier. Even so there were a few I dug out on Thursday. The plan for the day was to first of all check for bluebells and then perhaps start putting in some natural stone edging along the long flowerbed………
….but I only got as far as dumping a few stones on the soil at the far end in the picture. What I ended up doing was digging out bluebells in the flowerbed from one end to the other and then I moved to the Mound again for the fourth time and spent most of the day digging them out there too…….
The Mound was heavily populated with bluebells so I expected I would spend much time there but I never thought there would be quite so many. Imagine a hole, say 700 mm deep and around 150 mm across. That is about the size I dig when I discover a bluebell or two. They are often that deep and when I scrape with the hand fork I am amazed how many bulbs I loosen, thirty, forty all from the same hole! Well that’s fine for one hole but I’ve dug many of them in the Mound. It’s got so bad I find I’m having to constantly move the small plants there to get at the bulbs. If you don’t want a flower to take over your garden don’t plant bluebells! Whilst digging in the Mound I also removed a large quantity of small stones, well over two standard buckets full! There are more in there. As I was about to pack everything away I noticed several bluebells close together in the flowerbed in front of the small greenhouse so had to dig them out too. Each time I thought I’d finished for the day I spotted more here and there too so dug them out as well. It was five-thirty in the afternoon by the time I got indoors. I had been working since ten o’clock with a one hour break for lunch, six and a half hours. Who thinks gardening is easy? Before I went indoors though I found a large bluebell growing here beneath the large stones on the left in the picture below,
I had removed some of the stones for use in the long flowerbed edging if I ever get to do it! You might just be able to see the top of the bluebell in the centre of the three large stones. I nearly forgot, I also planted two shrubs near to the large greenhouse in the corner plot. One I had placed there in it’s pot until I could plant it and the other I had dug out whilst digging out the bluebells beneath the large bush shown dead-centre in the top picture. In fact it was an off-shoot of the bush with it’s own root system.
The work of digging out the bluebells has been very punishing. Although the work is and has been hard it is the fact that I am still finding plenty of them in places where I have already worked extensively. I got up late on Wednesday morning as there was no work scheduled and no reason to get up early and after a late breakfast of just fruit I resisted the temptation to have a walk around the garden to see if there were any more bluebells breaking through the surface. It has got to that point where I am actually frightened to even look because every time I do I find some! I had lunch late too but the idea of getting out into the sun-filled garden got the better of me and I had a quick walk about the rear garden returning indoors to put on my overalls to start digging out the few bluebells I had seen.
A common scold gets her comeuppance in the dunking stool. A seventeenth century woodcut. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
There were a few in the larger beds but not many so I spent only a short time there. I moved to the bed alongside the patio and found many more there to remove together with a few montbretia. That particular bed had been filled with montbretia until I revamped the bed some time ago and removed them so I expected to find the occasional one to dig out. There were far more bluebells there on Wednesday though none were deep-seated. Having finished in that bed I noticed a couple in the Mound where I had thoroughly worked in removing the bluebells only a couple of days earlier for the second time. I began to remove them, and they were deep under the ground, then as I did I noticed more. So it went on all along the front of the bed until I reached the space in front of the tree where I had removed something like thirty to fifty on my first visit weeks earlier. I hadn’t counted them, it was just an estimate but save to say they had all been in the same spot and deep beneath the soil. I found more on Wednesday in that same spot, well over a hundred of them and very deep among the tree’s roots! With each scrape of the fork I loosened more of them. It seemed that there were more bulbs than soil! Finally I reached the point where I couldn’t see any more of them and began to back-fill the hole with filtered soil. Thinking I had finished for the day I saw yet another a few centimetres away and found it wasn’t just the one, it was about ten of them! All I can say is that I have probably eradicated most of them…………..I do hope so.
I had been working again in the rear garden yesterday removing more bluebells but had run out of dry weather as well as running out of daylight and had to stop for the day. Most of what I was doing in the two hours between three and five o’clock was centred at the far end of the long flowerbed toward the ‘Mound’ and especially behind the trees. I had piled up everything I had dug out ready to put it in a bucket to dump it all. However the rain by then was heavy so I left everything and went indoors. According to the weather forecast a storm was heading in our direction to arrive on Thursday but that high winds and rain would precede it on Wednesday afternoon for my location. I lowered the flag we have in the front garden yesterday because the forecast of very high winds reaching perhaps 60 mph would rip it apart. I decided therefore to get up early and get out in the garden while there was time. Almost everywhere I had removed bluebells a few weeks ago I now found had more growing there! ‘Enough already’ I thought to myself as I got stuck in to the seemingly endless task ahead of me. My only consolation is in knowing I have removed many thousands of them, possibly and most probably around eight thousand by this point in time. So that will be eight thousand less plants producing seeds and making matters impossible. As it stands today, Wednesday as I write this, I still have the tail-end of the corner plot to finish though that should only take a couple of hours. Unfortunately, again according to the weather forecast, we can expect rain for many of the days ahead. The break, if I get one, will allow any other bluebells to grow and show themselves and I will be waiting with my little hand fork to escort them away! The two months I have spent thus far digging out montbretia and bluebells off and on is beginning to rip me apart too! Hopefully the major part of the project will be over soon but as I have mentioned in previous posts, it will be on-going maintenance for many months yet.
Update: Later in the afternoon I returned to the corner plot and finished filtering the soil as it hadn’t rained. That rain came later in the evening. So here is a picture taken from inside the greenhouse….
The plant in the pot is another shrub. It was an offshoot of a large bright green shrub further along the flowerbed far to the left. You can see it in the top picture dead centre. I had been working beneath that shrub earlier in the day removing more bluebells. The offshoot became detached in the process. It has of course its own root system. I put it into a pot until I decide to plant it later and after ensuring there are no more bluebells or montbretia plants in that place.
By the end of yesterday the sore throat I had disappeared, in fact it was late afternoon I last remembered having it. What would I be doing on Thursday? I had a couple of electrical requests but turned them down because one was too far away to be worth the effort and the other was simply too much work for me. I sat around until ten o’clock, mostly to allow my breakfast to digest and to play the guitar for a while too then it was on with my overalls and boots for a spell in the rear garden. I didn’t want to carry on where I had left off filtering out the bluebells in the corner of the garden, at least not to begin with. During the time I had been working on the ‘Plot’ project last summer and also in the front garden flowerbeds I had removed several bulbs. They weren’t bluebells, I think they were daffodils or tulips, probably both and I had left them in a plant pot in one of the garages. I wanted to plant them in two places, in the small plot between the small greenhouse and the garage and also in the ‘Mound’. Here are the two locations…..
I planted a few around the exposed areas in the small plot (first picture) and then went over to the Mound (second picture) to see where I could plant some of the bulbs there. The picture shows the area I had been working in a couple of weeks ago when digging out bluebells in front of the tall tree in the foreground. I had removed something like thirty to fifty bluebell bulbs from the small area as I recall. The first thing I noticed was a bluebell growing in front of the small shrub in front centre. I dug it out but it wasn’t alone, there were several more beneath the soil level both to the left and behind the shrub. I even had to remove the large stone behind the shrub for many more bluebells were growing there too. I ended up digging out more of them in a triangle marked by the two angles in the stone edging and the shrub with the brightly coloured leaves just right of the centre in the picture. Most of the bulbs were located at least 300 mm down and beneath tree roots! Then I noticed more growing in the area around the angle in the stone edging, to the right of that position and behind it too. I filled a bucket with just bluebells. It was approaching two o’clock and I had spent almost four hours on my knees again, three of them in that one location and still I hadn’t planted any bulbs as I had intended. I found myself cursing the bluebells as I kept on finding more after thinking there were no more to find. Oh yes, there are sure to be more of them, I just have to wait for them to show.
Tuesday was one of those days that was neither too cold nor too warm. Neither was it sunny for long but the wind was low and it was dry, just right for working in or rather working outside which was where you would find me. I had no electrical work so it was an ideal opportunity to carry on with what has turned out to be a long project, digging out the bluebells and montbretia. I was at last working in the corner plot and got this far….
Compare to previous recent posts. You will notice that the small-leaved holly tree has been removed where it stood between the tree with the two trunks and the large sycamore trunk at the top of the picture. The holly is of a variety which tends to grow all over the place unless constantly pruned-back. I dug it out as I said I might. It was just as well for there were bluebells growing beneath it and behind it and they would have been difficult to get at with the tree in the way. The area in the picture at the top right and beyond the brick markers is mostly covered with montbretia. Fortunately most are growing near the surface and come out with a rake though I am using the fork to dig deep just to make sure. I use the kneeling stool and then dig out the loosened soil with a hand fork. That is why it is taking so long. I have to filter out the soil a small section at a time. You will notice a small shrub at the left-hand side of the picture. We had that growing in a large pot with the view of planting it out in the garden later. Before I planted it I dug deep in and around the spot to ensure no further bluebells were still lingering about. It was just as well I did for there were still a few in there which I had missed.
I will have to leave populating the flowerbed too densely if at all for a while so that I can dig out any others I have missed. Speaking of which, I finally stopped work for the day at four o’clock and put the gardening tools away but when I took the photographs a little later I noticed four places in the bed to the left of the area in the bottom picture where more bluebells are beginning to show. Grrrrrr….! Using some plastic sticks I marked their positions so I would be able to see them for digging out later.
On Wednesday I didn’t plan on working in the garden because I wanted a rest from it. At the same time I had no electrical job offers for the day either. The whole day would be spent doing well practically nothing. However, around three o’clock I couldn’t resist putting on a coat and taking the garden fork and some smaller tools and going over to where I had left-off a few days ago in digging out some bulbs. I decided to spend at least an hour seeing what progress I could make in removing what remains in the corner section of the long flowerbed. I got as far as this…..
Only a small area really from the angle in the stone edging up to the bright stone marker a metre to the right and roughly as far back as the tree with the two trunks. The other tree to its right is a small-leaved holly of some type which is in need of some radical pruning or complete removal. I might just remove it and replace it with something else. To the right of where I had reached the ground is mainly populated with montbretia plants though there are some bluebells in there too. I will be glad when I finally reach the end…just behind the wheelie bin!
The soil in the area is riddled with tree roots which have made removing the bluebell bulbs more difficult. I am hoping though that the montbretia bulbs will not be so deep beneath the surface but I will have to wait and see. Once I have finished digging everything out I will still have to be vigilant throughout the year to dig out any I have missed. Take my advice, if you don’t want plants that take over your garden don’t plant montbretia and especially don’t plant bluebells!
At the time of writing this on Wednesday morning there remains only the one area in the garden requiring attention regarding the removal of bluebells and montbretia plants. That is the area approaching the larger greenhouse. In this picture below taken before the greenhouse was erected some five years ago the area is more easily seen…
Basically it is the area behind the tall holly tree running right toward the concrete base on which there are two chairs. When the picture was taken I had just installed the large sandstone slabs that had been used for capping the perimeter wall at the front of the house and had used them to edge the path which runs to the greenhouse. You can see the edging in the picture above and in this picture taken recently…
The tall holly tree is beyond the right-hand edge of the picture. The front perimeter walls were rebuilt without the sandstone capping but have the wrought iron metalwork on them instead….
These are all old, previously posted pictures from earlier posts. Anyway I have not been able to get into that small area as yet because I have been going over old ground and doing some electrical work in between. Yesterday (Tuesday) I took a walk of inspection in the rear garden to see where I needed to remove bluebells in previously worked areas, the flowerbed next to the patio, the ‘Mound’ and the end of the long flowerbed next to it. I dug out only a couple from next to the patio, a bucket-full from the Mound but two buckets full from the flowerbed! It is unbelievable the amount I have dug out since the beginning of the year. It was after one o’clock that I received a call asking for my electrical services. I had been on my knees so to speak for over three hours and had just about finished working those three areas. I was able to eat a small lunch before going to that job a couple of miles from home. On my return I went into the garden again just for a quick look around and was stopped in my tracks after a couple of paces. At the end of the flowerbed which runs in front of the greenhouses and next to the small patch where we grow rhubarb I could see the top of yet another bluebell! Two days ago I had removed around six plants just a few centimetres away! I was so annoyed I dug it out with my bare hands and it was quite a large one. Fortunately the soil wasn’t too compacted so it wasn’t difficult to remove. This is what I have had to do over the last few weeks, go over old ground and find any missed or late growing bulbs which need digging out. No doubt I will be doing that throughout the growing seasons to ensure complete eradication but it will be worth it.
I was determined to get some quality sleep on Friday night so after a day with half-closed eyes or at least feeling that way, I went to bed early and was fast asleep at around nine-thirty. I still woke up a couple of times but my sleep was good and I woke up on Saturday morning very much refreshed. I ate breakfast around nine o’clock and waited until ten before donning my overalls and boots to go into the front garden and get stuck into the bluebell removal in the right-hand flowerbed. When I had redesigned the beds last year I hadn’t been thorough enough in eliminating the bluebells in this particular bed and now I was paying the price. Earlier in January I had actually dug out around a dozen plants but now they were back in number and I had to spend a couple of hours on my knees again digging them out. I guess I removed over a hundred of them. It was whilst I was doing that when my mobile phone rang. Why does it always seem that I get calls when I am doing something in the garden? It was an elderly gentleman asking if I could repair a loose lighting switch. I explained that I was digging out bluebells but that I would call back a little later to arrange to visit him. After another hour I had finished in the garden and gave him a call. I drove to his house which was only a mile and a half away and soon had the switch secured. After receiving payment I drove into and through the town centre and on toward my local pub for a meal. Here is a picture of the side entrance, the one most folk use, taken when they were having some outside work done…Here are the links to view much more about the pub http://fishermens.rest/index.html. and https://www.facebook.com/fishermens.rest/ .The place was full except for a space at the end of the bar, so I sat there. I only wanted a snack, a sandwich so sitting at the bar wasn’t a problem. When the ‘snack’ arrived it came with all the trimmings including chips (French fries) and a salad! I only really wanted a sandwich. Still it was enjoyable. No sooner had I finished eating when tables became vacant as many left the premises. Typical! I was greeted by many folk who hadn’t seen me for quite a while and asking why I hadn’t been to the pub for some time. I didn’t have an excuse except that I hadn’t wished to. I have been correcting that of course having been there several times recently, I shouldn’t neglect going to the only place near to home where I am truly welcomed and missed when not there.
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,
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.
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.