Spanner in the works

Or…for my American friends and some others….a wrench in the works. Somehow ‘wrench’ doesn’t seem to express it as well as spanner but I suppose that is due to my living in the UK. I would prefer to say England rather than the United Kingdom because I am English, I was born here. I do have Scottish ancestry though on my father’s side of the family but I was born in England. Now we say ‘spanner in the works’ to express a condition whereby a planned activity has been forced to a stop by an outside influence or objection. Well it seems that E has thrown such a spanner in the works having raised tentative objections to my planned garden project. I think however she would prefer something slightly different from my proposals though not entirely different. At the moment therefore the plans are on hold until we can agree on what to do. I suspect that won’t take long and I’ll soon be making inroads but who knows? We’ll just have to wait and see. In the meantime I can rest up though with me that will be difficult. This morning, that is September 1 st I had to water the garden  again because we’ve had little rain lately and one or two of the plants were beginning to wilt a little. I had watered the garden on Friday evening and the plants were looking healthy afterward but a second watering was needed to ensure the soil was moistened through. For today and the following few days the weather forecast says it will remain dry. Anyway I did that and on the way back upstairs I glanced at the pit in which the cross-trainer stands and noticed a small amount of paint flaking off in one corner. When I first constructed the pit a few months earlier I had used paint we had in storage but was never really satisfied with the colour after painting the walls in the room white. The paint in the pit was more creamy looking. Having painted the floor red it magnified the differences between the wall and pit colours. I decided to scrape off the flaking paint and redo the whole pit in a gloss white though I couldn’t of course paint beneath the cross-trainer itself.

It didn’t take long to do, about twenty minutes but now it looks much better for it. Later in the day it was time for more garden maintenance, sweeping up leaves and mowing the lawn.

Shirley Anne

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Weeds and stuff

A gardener’s life is a constant battle with weeds or should I say wild flowers or wild plants. I’m good at laying out gardens placing plants in them and then looking after them but I get a little frustrated when each time I go into the garden I end up picking out weeds. They grow absolutely everywhere don’t they? Short of plucking them out or maybe spraying them if they are not close to wanted plants there is little else that can be done. Some weeds behave themselves and are easily controlled whilst others can be very difficult if not impossible to eradicate. I’m no gardener in a professional sense and probably only an average amateur but I do know how much hard work is necessary for the upkeep of a garden especially if the garden is larger than the average. We have two gardens at home, one front and one in the rear and both are reasonably large in area though the front garden has less planting area and is also the smaller of the two. Although it is smaller it has the greater weed problem both by variety and volume. However I have to admit that a large part of the front garden namely what I call the front mound where the flag pole stands has been deliberately left to grow a little wild. It is covered in rocks with a few bushes in it so it looks natural and wild. There are some weeds I pluck out and some I leave but the problem is the ones I leave like spreading themselves all over the place and indeed that is how they grow by blanketing the ground. During the summer one of them has tiny pink/purple flowers which attract bees and other pollinators…see above. Below is the same plant as it was on Saturday now with less flowers.

It is I admit quite attractive but it does grow anywhere it finds a foothold, on the walls, in cracks in the concrete, and just about anywhere else. We call it Southport Weed for it is prolific here. On Saturday (25 th) I lifted so much of it that I had left growing on top of the raised white gravel area behind the plants in the front garden it half-filled the wheelie bin. it had almost covered the gravel completely.

Despite the amount there it was fairly easy to lift as it puts roots down in one spot and spreads from there though there were a few spots where it had done so. I sprayed the area afterward with a herbicide. Unfortunately the herbicide has a limited effect and I know the weed will return, it always does. In the flower borders other small weeds constantly appear and if left they too pop up all over the place. There must be thousands of invisible seeds waiting to germinate just to annoy me! Who said gardening was easy?

Shirley Anne

Lots done

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.

English: Toby Carvery
Toby Carvery (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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).

Lewisia
Lewisia (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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.

Shirley Anne

Dull but warm

It was a dull but warm day on Sunday (20). I had gotten up reasonably early for I wanted to water the plants in the front garden. I have often neglected the front garden in that respect and know I shouldn’t. In the rear garden we have a hose permanently affixed to the tap so it is easy just to run it out when watering the plants there, whereas in the front garden we don’t.

English: A Gardena garden hose pistol
A Gardena garden hose pistol (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

We have another tap in the front garden but of course we don’t leave a hose attached to it in case it goes ‘walkies’. We store a hose truck in one of the garages and connect it to the tap when we need it. The truck is basically a reeled hose sat on a metal frame that has wheels on it and a handle with which to pull it along.   It looks almost exactly as the one shown in the picture below. So I was out there around eight-thirty giving the plants, the whole garden, a thorough watering.

Deutsch: Gartenschlauch auf fahrbarer Rolle
Exactly like this one

Returning indoors later for a coffee and a chat with E who had not been up long I somehow got around to talking about cakes and ended up making some more rock cakes! They are so easy to make and in the space of twenty five minutes from scratch they can be on the plate and ready for eating. It’s a treat for us as we don’t eat cakes that often, well one has to think of one’s waistline…….ahem! Nothing really happened on Sunday, it was just a dull day all round but we made the most of it and spent most of the time relaxing.

Shirley Anne

The list goes on

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.

Shirley Anne

What a day!

Monday according to the weather forecast was the first day of a week of sunny days and it certainly set the bar high. It was May 14 and it was sunny throughout the day. These are the days I take to do my outside work of course which at the moment have put my indoor jobs on hold. The cellar storage room floor needs another coat of paint, well I think two coats is better than one, and I’ve still to fit the threshold and do the gym floor too. I had set my mind to get up early and cut back overhanging branches from a neighbour’s tree so after an early breakfast I set about doing that. It wasn’t a small job for I had to saw off a few large branches and that meant I had to do it whilst standing on the garden wall.

The tree in question is standing on the other side of the wall dead-centre in the pictures above and the branches reached out almost to a position over the footpath putting all the plants below in the shade. Four of the branches I let drop into my neighbour’s garden but one I had to let drop in ours. The neighbour’s garden just over the wall I hasten to add is a jungle of brambles, weeds and fallen branches which never get cleared. Anyway we had to cut up the branches which fell on our side so later on in the morning E and I got out the machine which produces chippings and put the smaller branches through it. The larger pieces we stored in the small greenhouse together with others already there.Perhaps you can see the machine (yellow in colour) standing behind the tall holly tree in the picture above, There are branches with leaves on the path to the left and bare branches on the other path to the right. Before we did that work we drove to the garden centre to buy more plants, about a dozen of them which we planted out later in the afternoon. Two of those we planted in the front garden but the rest we planted mostly in the two flowerbeds shown in the second picture. I mowed the lawn before we started chipping the branches and before we had a late lunch. If I’ve time I will post pictures of the new plants later.

Shirley Anne

Fast or what?

 

I could be writing about myself for I was often told how fast I worked and how fast I got things done. However, I did not consider myself to be a fast as was suggested though I do admit to making it seem that way! Experience cultivates a quick resolution to any problem. To us some insects seem to move with breakneck speed but from their point of view, if they had one, I suppose they would see us as lethargic creatures. Many things in nature move quickly by our standards. We all know how fast ants move about especially when disturbed and how quickly flying insects move about, so fast we cannot see them much of the time. Trying to swat a fly will remind us that we move much more slowly than they do. In the plant world there are those which takes ages to grow and those which can even be seen growing before our eyes if we have the patience to sit and watch. In extreme cases plants can grow at an enormous pace, like some species of kelp whose growth rate per day is measured in many centimetres, even up to a metre! Thank goodness it isn’t a land growing species but there are nevertheless some land-based plants which can grow very quickly too though not perhaps as fast as kelp.

A plant finds a nook and grows on the side of ...
A plant finds a nook and grows on the side of a building. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The plants we often don’t think about as fast growers are some species of weeds. I was talking with E a few days ago regarding the frequency we have been digging out weeds lately. I am not talking about dandelions here though they grow fast enough, no, I am referring to the smaller weeds that are often missed when trying to eradicate them. One particular weed which I have endeavoured to identify but have not been able to seems to pop up all over the place in the flowerbeds with great frequency. It has a small cluster of ground-hugging tiny leaves out of the centre of which grows a very thin stem the top of which has tiny white flowers. They grow to about ten centimetres high I guess and are very easily plucked out of the soil as the roots are small and don’t grow far down below the surface. They are more of a nuisance to pick out than a threat to the other plants. Oh well that is what gardening is all about, growing those plants you want and removing those you don’t. As I said to E, I think it would be far easier to grow weeds than have to keep digging them out.

Shirley Anne

 

A new week……

….and tomorrow a new month. I write this on the last day of April. It is Monday and the start of a week of unknowns. Despite not having any definite plan for the day I was very busy. I had ordered clothing, floor paint and a cordless vacuum cleaner but only one of those was scheduled for delivery that day, the vacuum cleaner. I wanted the paint delivering as soon as possible so that I could finish the cellar storage room project. As I write this I still have no idea when it will arrive. The clothing should be here within the next couple of days. There was a small amount of painting to do around the door on the inside of the store-room which was the first thing I did. Following that I went into the front garden and using a watering can and soluble plant food I fed all the plants, dug out weeds then swept the pathways. It was approaching lunchtime when that was done so I stopped work and went indoors just in time to unpack and assemble the new vacuum cleaner. I am considering purchasing another for use on the upper floors but will see how this one performs first. After lunch I made myself busy by first of all sweeping up the leaves, lots of them, from the paths in the rear garden then mowing the lawn. Next, I got out the hoe and gave the flowerbeds a make-over removing the weeds. It was late afternoon when I had finished and I spent an hour in the sunshine relaxing on the patio. When I returned indoors our next-door neighbour’s son called to update us on his mom’s condition. Late on Sunday afternoon she had been rushed to hospital with a collapsed lung and could hardly breathe. She has advanced emphysema and relies on her oxygen bottles to get through the day. The prognosis wasn’t good and the doctors thought she wouldn’t survive. Her son was calling to let us know that she had perked-up somewhat and could possibly return home. She is at death’s door and the doctors practically indicated that so even if she can return home she would need palliative care. For the moment she remains in hospital. We invited our neighbour’s son inside for a chat and he stayed awhile. That was basically my day and I was tired after it all.

Shirley Anne

A scorcher

Alright it wasn’t so hot to be unbearable but it certainly had been hot considering it was barely half-way through April! It was Wednesday the 18th and the local temperature had gradually risen during the morning to reach around 22 deg C in the afternoon. Added to that it was sunny throughout the day, a really pleasant day that wouldn’t have been out-of-place in the summer months let alone April. Nice as it all was however I didn’t get to rest outside on the patio until after lunch. I had spent three hours in the garden before deciding to return indoors. I had arisen a little late and spent some time using the gym equipment before breakfast and following that I resumed work in the cellar room. My efforts at rendering the wall were what you might call not that professional but after all I am not a builder. It meant I had some filling in to do but chose to use plaster rather than cement as it is easier to use and easier to get a smooth surface, not that a smooth surface was all that necessary. It would look better when painted over if I used plaster. Once I had done that I sealed the wall using a diluted PVA mixture. The next task in the room would be filling in the holes in the floor, painting the walls and ceiling (again) and painting the shelving. At this stage I am undecided as to whether to re-position the room light and replace it in the process though it is only a storage room. I had time before lunch to mow the lawn

The picture was taken later in the afternoon along with the next two….

The rhubarb is doing very well in its new home. If my readers will remember I moved it from where it was to the raised bed above. As yet there are no signs of the potatoes in the bare ground in front of it.

Shirley Anne

 

Too tired

English: Sleepy Head Usually the bats sleep in...
Sleepy Head Usually the bats sleep in the roof. This one was so tired, it fell asleep above a kitchen window for the day. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

You might think that for someone who is very tired sleep comes easy but unfortunately that isn’t always the case for me. Although I had been very busy on Thursday and was tired when I went to bed getting to sleep eluded me. I tossed and turned throughout the night and felt awful when I got up in the morning. After having something for breakfast I felt so much better though I did remain a little sleepy. I spent some time on the project (see yesterday’ post) and by the afternoon I was ready to go to bed but of course I didn’t, not at that time. Later however when I did go to bed sleep came very easy and I was out for the count in minutes! I had a really good night’s sleep and should have been ready to do some more work but I decided to take a break from it and have the next two days off, Saturday and Sunday. I decided a walk was on the cards so before breakfast, which incidentally I missed altogether, I dressed to go for the walk. It wasn’t that warm on Saturday morning as I left the house but it wasn’t cold either. About half-way through the walk things changed, the clouds rolled away and it became warm in the bright sunshine. By the time I had returned home my coat was beginning to make me feel uncomfortable wearing it. I was ready to eat something so had a slightly early lunch, though it was by then approaching one o’clock. E had been busy at the top of the house and didn’t have lunch until two. I in the meantime went onto the patio to sit in the now warmer sunshine. E joined me not long after but neither of us sat there too long as we began digging out a few sycamore seedlings and weeds. We did return to the patio however to make the most of the fine weather while it lasted. Sunday looked gloomy as plenty of rain had been forecast but during the week ahead we had been promised high temperatures and bright sunshine. When we returned indoors we sat and watched the Grand National horse race, the only horse race we do watch throughout the year.

Shirley Anne