Tag Archives: Gardening

Now and then

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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?

Shirley Anne

Still……..

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Norman tees off at Royal Birkdale

Norman tees off at Royal Birkdale (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Work is still ongoing at the house two doors away, though that work is now concentrated on developing the grounds rather than the house itself which is completed both inside and out. The ground works seem to be taking far longer than I would have expected but of course it isn’t my house. E and I were talking about the progress of the work which has been slow from the start and how much longer will it be before our new neighbours can move in. They had been expecting to move in two months ago! We think the slow progress has been due to a lack of control over the work that has been done. A project such as this requires a site foreman to chase the various trades persons to speed things up and to maintain proper control of schedules as would be the case in any construction development. We are not sure proper control has been maintained in this case. Still the noise from the house continues each day as it has done for over seven months. More noise from both our next-door neighbours over the last couple of days as one is having the garage roof replaced/repaired whilst the other has a guy cutting down some very out of control Leylandii trees in her rear garden.which should really have been cut down years ago long before they got so tall and wide. For years the husband would prune them back as much as he could but he needed to use an extension ladder to do it and even then it was extremely difficult. Since he died, it will be four years come November, she has had other Leylandii trees chopped down and removed in both the front and rear gardens. A few months ago I myself chopped down an out-of-control tree in her front garden to help her out. It was a job her son should have done as he is fit enough and twenty-five years younger! One snag there, he just isn’t capable but that is because he was never encouraged or prevailed upon to do his bit at home. So life is going on all around us. It will be great when all the work is done and we can have our street back for a while. Speaking of streets, the local authority have placed notices on almost all of the street lamp posts to indicate a temporary parking restriction in order to prevent them becoming congested during the British Open golf championship being held here once again at the Royal Birkdale golf course a week or so away. The ‘Common’, which is common ground adjacent to the club and used by many to exercise their dogs will be turned into a car park during the event. A fee is levied of course, any excuse to squeeze money out of people as I see it. Still….

Shirley Anne

Too hot

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English: Sheep in the shade. On the road from ...

Sheep in the shade. On the road from High Forest Farm to Clough Head. It was an extremely hot and humid day. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

It is the same every year, I (we) moan about the dreary dull wet days of winter and when it gets hot and sunny I do the same, never satisfied. When it is cool (and dry if I’m outdoors) I can get on with the various jobs that need doing and special jobs I call my projects but once it gets too warm and humid I don’t feel much like doing anything. So it was on Saturday. I had slept in a little longer than usual but that was due to my not getting off to sleep sooner. I hadn’t done much on Friday so wasn’t as tired as I might have been. There wasn’t any reason for me to get up early anyway. By the time I arrived downstairs it was already bright, sunny and warm. I had a little something to eat and went out on to the patio to enjoy the sunshine. I had it in mind to do a little gardening but wasn’t in a hurry to start. In fact it wasn’t until mid-afternoon before I did anything. E went to her monthly meeting at one o’clock and I wanted to eat lunch before doing any work but it was too early to eat. I went back to the patio and lay down for an hour then had lunch. The work I wanted to do in the front garden was to pluck out weeds, plant a small holly bush in the mound, one that had been growing in a pot but needed putting in the ground and then to water the garden too. It was very hot in the front garden as there is no shade from the sun at all in the afternoon. Once I had finished there it was into the rear garden to water the plants there and again there was little or no shade there either! It’s all too much like hard work in the summer when all I want to do is relax. It isn’t that I don’t want to work but the heat and humidity make it so uncomfortable, for me anyway. E arrived back home around four-thirty and we both spent an hour on the patio, she to lie down, me to just sit this time and chat. She would be off again very early in the morning to spend the day at the NEC (National Exhibition Centre) in Birmingham to a food festival being held there. It is an annual event she and a couple of others attend. I would have to either go somewhere or sit it out at home trying to relax in the heat. Either way it would be uncomfortable for me. Roll on the cooler weather!

Shirley Anne

Montbretia at thirty paces

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Another warm and humid day on Thursday yet I had determined to arise early and do some more work in the garden before it got too warm and sticky. Alas it didn’t work out that way as by the time I had finished breakfast it was already uncomfortable to work in. The repairs to the brickwork I had done on the raised bed the day before was now solid. The job I had in mind this time was to mix some, well quite a bit, of concrete made with granite dust (granno). I wanted to place it along the joints between the paving slabs and the border stones I had placed around the Mound and the west wall flowerbed. When I did the stone border along the long flowerbed a couple of months ago I formed a substantial joint along the whole length in order to prevent gaps appearing either caused by the weather or more likely the activity of ants! Ants have been very active lately along the west wall flowerbed border and also along the front edge of the Mound where they face the lawn and a couple of gaps have appeared along with the tell-tale sign of excavated soil. I’ll say one thing for ants, they certainly work hard. However I had to shelve the idea of doing the work until it gets a little cooler. I was sitting at the computer late morning when I received a call for my services. Someone not far away wanted me to replace a ceiling light. I was happy to do it and off I went. I was back home twenty-five minutes later. I waited a short time before having lunch after which I sat out on the patio for a while. I noticed the ‘bib tap’ (faucet similar to that shown in picture)  was leaking water from the handle yet it was valved-shut.

English: Metal engraved tap (valve) in Fužine ...

Metal engraved tap (valve) in Fužine castles yard, Ljubljana, Slovenia. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The garden hose is usually kept connected to this tap in the rear garden whereas we keep the hose for use in the front garden in one of the garages and connect it to the tap there when we want to use it. The packing seal, usually called the stuffing box, was worn so I used some PTFE (polytetrafluoroethylene) tape to wrap around the stem which effectively cured the leak. Now I was keen to do something else but there was little else to do so I sat it out again on the patio before watering the garden plants. I thought I would sit a while longer outside to relax and enjoy the view but I spotted a montbretia sticking out of the soil on the far side of the garden, about thirty metres away! When you have been digging out montbretia and bluebells for weeks on end (see earlier posts) you get to spot them as soon as they appear. Actually I don’t know how five minutes earlier I hadn’t seen it when watering the plants.

Shirley Anne

Uncomfortable

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Medieval dentist removing tooth

Medieval dentist removing tooth (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I know I shouldn’t complain about the weather for there is nothing I can do about it. These past few days have been very warm and humid, so much so it has left me feeling very uncomfortable and drained of energy. It has more to do with the humidity rather than the temperature and that applies to everyone. We can only cool down (in the air) if our perspiration is allowed to evaporate but the higher the humidity the less that can happen. I try to do as little as possible when conditions are humid but it isn’t easy. On Thursday morning I had a dental appointment across town and even at ten o’clock in the morning it was beginning to feel uncomfortable. How grateful I was that the surgery is fully air-conditioned. Whilst I was waiting to see the dentist I received a phone call from my neighbour informing me that I should return home because the house alarm had been sounding. I wondered why E hadn’t contacted me but as we haven’t been on speaking terms she asked a neighbour! All that however is a different story which I will not go into at this time. I explained that it was impossible for me to return immediately and left it at that. The alarm would automatically cease sounding after twenty minutes anyway and when I did arrive back home some forty minutes later it had indeed cut off.

English: A house alarm

A house alarm (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

It transpired that the main panel battery was faulty but I called the alarm company and asked if they could attend and replace it and also do a complete service at the same time. We hadn’t an existing maintenance agreement so I arranged that with the engineer when he called. For an annual fee (presently £108) they will check out the system each year and carry out any necessary repairs. I had asked their office not to send an engineer before three o’clock as I was eating out. They came at one-fifteen! Fortunately I had been to the pub before then but my visit there was cut short. It was just as well as it turned out. It is unusual for people to arrive earlier than the appointed time I have to say but I suppose they had time on their hands. My dental appointment by the way was for a routine check-up and clean but I have been referred to a local clinic in regard to a gum infection at the dentist’s request. He just wanted a second opinion. By mid-afternoon all had calmed down, dentist, pub, alarm sorted but I had to water the gardens once again. It is easy enough for me to go and stand in the shower if I get too uncomfortable but the poor plants must be wondering when it will be that it rains again! I wish it would too.

Shirley Anne

Different work in progress

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Today, Tuesday (22 nd) as I write this post, I have been busy at home all day long. I actually received a call an hour ago asking if I would do a small electrical job! Now there’s a thing but I am waiting for his return call at this minute to let me know for sure. So this morning my first job was to cut and fit four lengths of semi-circular molding to cover the joints on the pillar/stand I have made and then paint them with primer. An hour later I gave the whole unit another coat of gloss paint and left it to dry, which will take it at least 24 hours. Gloss paint takes time to dry and even then it will be a few more days before it becomes rock-hard. It will probably be the weekend before I attempt to use it. Following that work I removed the top hinge on the door to the small lounge in order to set it further into the frame by chiselling out a little wood beneath it. This has the effect of lifting the leading bottom edge slightly so that it clears the floor covering, the carpet. The new carpet pile was restricting the door moving over it. That work took me almost to lunch time and after lunch I decided to water the gardens because of the dry weather. As I went into the rear garden however I saw that the lawn was looking a little unkempt due to the daisies and other plants growing in it. I think it needs treating to eradicate weeds but at the moment it isn’t too bad. Anyway I had to mow it. Rain threatened, that is I could just about feel tiny drops of rain falling on my bare skin now and then but it didn’t materialise and I got on with the mowing. Once that was done I could water the garden. When I say water the garden I usually mean the border plants and those in planters or on the patio. I only water the grass rarely at this time of year though in the warmer months I try to give it a watering regularly. That took some time as once again I had to stop to dig out Montbretia shoots. I moved into the front garden and to give the plants there a good soaking too but first I spent some time removing a few weeds from the flowerbeds. I got stung by the rose-bush as I reached between the stems to get at a weed. I wasn’t wearing gloves and I had forgotten the fact that rose bushed have thorns, large thorns! The flowers are beautiful though in this picture only one has at yet fully opened..

I wish it were possible for you to smell the scent, it is a heavy and powerful aroma which can be sensed far away from the plant. Other plants in the front garden are in blossom too, like the small rhododendron in the Mound. The Mound has been left to grow a little wild though some wild flowers such as dandelions and thorny weeds I remove.

The flowerbeds I worked on last year have been growing back well but a few plants, supposedly perennials, haven’t grown back for some reason. See bare patches at the front.

Shirley Anne

One addition……

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….and one subtraction was the name of the game on Monday (24th). Again I was eager to resume work after Sunday resting. I actually got the opportunity to lie down on the patio, out of the wind but in the warmth of the sun. It wasn’t that windy but sitting in it too long would be uncomfortable unless the sun was shining. I did sit in it for a time then decided to get out one of the mats and lay on that for a time. So it was now Monday morning and I was up and ready to go well before nine o’clock. I wanted to complete the application of the first coat of gloss paint on that wood work which remained with only an undercoat. That meant all the skirting boards and the fire surround or mantlepiece. I had already completed the door, door and window frames on Saturday. The skirting took less than an hour but the fire surround took around two hours and if you look at the picture you can see why….

…it is quite intricate in detail. So now I had all the gloss paint done but I have to give it all a second coat and do a little filling-in with caulk in a few places beforehand too. The second coat should be quicker to do. What I like about the gloss paint I am using is that it appears to have a slight grey-green tint when applying it but it turns pure white as it dries and that makes it very easy to apply over the first coat as far as seeing where you have done as you paint. Looking at the picture again you will notice that the fire has gone. Before I began work at nine I had already visited the local fireplace installer to organise an engineer to call to give me some advice regarding the existing fire and the hearth itself. Just before I had finished the painting their engineer called to the house and we discussed the alternatives available to me. The problem is that the existing hearth and back granite (reconstituted) is of the wrong colour now that I have or will have changed the decor and I want it to be a shade of grey instead. The fire itself is now 28 years old and I decided to replace it after our discussion so with that in mind I asked the guy to disconnect it and take it away. I said I would call into their office after lunch to arrange and pay for the work to be done which is to tile over the back and hearth and install a new fire. I went to the pub for lunch (this is becoming a regular habit) and then drove to the office, chose a fire and tile colour, paid the fee (£800) which includes labour costs, and returned home. I was informed that the work might be undertaken at the end of the following week. Perfect. I didn’t stop at home long as I had to go out and purchase the tube of caulk which I had forgotten to buy earlier and at the same time visit the garden centre. One of the shrubs in the long flowerbed hadn’t taken root and had died and I wanted to put something else in its place. The shrub was merely an off-shoot of a plant already growing in the bed (the one on the extreme left in the picture) which I had removed when digging out bluebells a couple of months ago. I gave it the chance to grow further along the bed but it didn’t work. Anyway I bought another Prunus Novita (Cherry Laurel) to plant in the space…..

It is the tall dark plant against the wall dead-centre in the picture. The other one I purchased a couple of weeks ago I planted in the west wall flowerbed which has had more plants put in it since.

So one addition (the plant) and one subtraction (the fire).

Shirley Anne

Spreading it about

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With an empty day ahead on Wednesday I decided to get into the garden again and do some work there. It was a dull and breezy morning and wasn’t that warm either but I guess it is still only early Spring. That didn’t matter for I would soon warm up doing the work. My first task was to rake off some of the soil from the ‘corner plot‘, filter it out and take it over to the patio in order to top-up the soil levels in the raised flowerbeds there. This is a picture of the corner plot taken from inside the large greenhouse after it had been raked. The strange clumps beneath the tree on the right are ferns beginning to open up. I love ferns and wished they were evergreen but sadly they are not.

Here is an old picture of the patio showing the three flowerbeds on it taken last year when the artificial turf was being laid upon it and before the Plot at bottom left had been redesigned.

Not only did I rake off the soil for that job but I also spread soil from the corner plot along the length of the long flowerbed to which it is connected……

…….and dug out a few bluebells along the way! One day perhaps there will be no more bluebells. I live in hope. After giving the greenhouse a sweep and putting everything away it was approaching lunchtime. I had thought about dining out again so I changed my clothes with that in mind but first I had to drive to the electrical store to order in another ‘part night’ photo cell. It wasn’t my usual electrical supplier but another who had supplied me with the same item last year when I was installing a lamp-post in the rear garden. We have an identical photo cell controller which switches on the internal porch light at the front of the house. That had become faulty a day or two earlier. When it becomes available I will be informed. I propose to remove the existing unit and wire its replacement to a position at the rear of the house rather than where it is at the front. It should really have been placed there originally as the rear wall faces approximately north. Anyway that job will be done sometime in the days ahead. Having placed the order I drove to my local pub but the parking lot was so full I decided to go somewhere else instead. The place I visited was a couple of miles away and was almost empty. E and I have been there a few times in the past and the food is always excellent. I was able to relax there for an hour or so before driving back to town, stopping off at a fuel station on the way back home. The sun had begun to shine and I made myself a coffee and sat on the patio for a time but it went dull again so I returned indoors. Whilst spreading out the soil along the flowerbed I had dug out a couple of bluebells as I said………but I had missed one! It was to have a seventeen-hour reprieve…………then I would return with fork in hand to remove it.

Shirley Anne

 

Less and less

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This view from the Symbolic Mountain in the ga...

This view from the Symbolic Mountain in the gardens in Cowra, Australia shows many of the typical elements of a Japanese garden. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I have reached that stage in life where I am getting less and less bothered if I get electrical work or not. Whilst the work is still available I am now tending to take it but only if I feel like doing so. I have of course to earn enough to cover my expenses if I am to continue. So I have to reach a minimum amount on average each week before I can begin to earn a profit. It is a fine balance because I only take on board the smaller jobs which obviously pay less. Having said that it only takes one job to cover my expenses, anything else is profit. So if I get two jobs I am earning enough to make it worthwhile but usually I do more than two or three jobs each week on average.

Revenues and expenses

Revenues and expenses (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I have to say, at this point in time anyway, that I cannot see when it will be that I retire from my electrical work completely, all I do know is that I am taking on board less and less as time goes by. So what does a person do when all interest is lost? If I retired right now I would only have to find another interest to keep me occupied. However, that interest would have to be something which kept me physically active and not just keep me sitting at a desk, at a computer for instance. I have never liked the idea of not being physically active in my working life or even in my home life. I have to be active because that’s who I am. Less and less for me in one respect means more and more in another. I am fortunate in that we have gardens at home as there is always work to be done in them. Over the last couple of years I have been more involved working in the gardens than ever before. Because I am doing less electrical work as time passes by this allows me more time to work in the gardens if I wish. Soon though all work in the gardens will be solely maintenance work as the main construction projects have all been completed. Maintenance is something I am very used to and the work is guaranteed never to end!

Shirley Anne

Changing

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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

Stopped again

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Stopped from gardening that is. I had a couple of electrical jobs to do on Tuesday morning (21st) though the first one turned out to be only an advisory visit for which I levied no charge. The work to correct the customer’s problems would be too much for me to do. I have worked for the customer before but only to do small jobs, basically what I advertise I do. As the house wasn’t far away and as I was there only a few minutes I didn’t ask for payment, though it was offered. I drove on to the second job which turned out to be more awkward in its execution than I had expected but it paid well. The house was occupied by an elderly couple and the man, who was 86 years old, was bed-ridden due to a physical deterioration but who was also suffering with dementia. He just lay there in the rear room watching television whilst his wife, a few years younger, did all the running around. She was however in good health which was just as well. My work involved replacing lighting fittings and to check out a loose wall power outlet (as shown above).  The lighting part of the work was the troublesome bit, wall-mounted units, but as usual I managed. The power outlet was supplying the power to the television and to the bed on which the man lay. It powered the vibrating mattress on which he lay. It vibrated to relieve  the pain in his inactive muscles. When I see things like this I am not upset but a little saddened. I realise however that it could happen to any of us. I get annoyed when I see people moaning and groaning about their problems when there are others who are unable to do anything about theirs. I think people who think everything should go their way all of the time are missing the point, at least they are in a position to do something about it if it means so much to them. There are always going to be people worse off than ourselves and we should be grateful for what we have got, especially good health. It was around noon when I drove back home in the glorious sunshine. The day was also very windy however with rain by late afternoon to follow and much the same had been forecast for Wednesday. It would be Friday and Saturday before I could consider working in the garden as those days promised to be dry and sunny. I would be dining out on Thursday with E  together with my youngest brother and his wife. Thursday would be a less favourable day for working in the garden anyway.

Shirley Anne

A bit of rain

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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.

Shirley Anne

Just a little

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After a hard day in the garden I slept well Thursday night and no aches and pains on Friday morning, at least at first. I had no electrical work except offers I turned down so the day was mine. After breakfast I drove to the garden centre (Dobbies) where I am now a member. I purchased a couple of things, two pairs of gardening gloves, one pair for use when messing about in the soil and the other pair for use when pruning and doing other things. I also purchased some grease band to put around the apple trees to keep ants and certain caterpillars from climbing up them and a few ant-control blocks filled with ‘Nippon’ designed to destroy the ant nests we have in some places. Last of all I bought another evergreen shrub called Crinodendron/Hookerianum  or Lantern Tree which produces bright red flowers in Spring through Summer. When I returned home it was the first thing I did in planting it. It is the centre shrub in this picture…

It grows to a height of 2.5 metres with a spread of 1.2 metres. The other two shrubs shown in the picture I planted on Thursday. This corner has come a long way since February when I was clearing it out……

So it was down to shifting some large stones/slabs and distributing them along the edge of the long flowerbed ready for me to construct an edging. I placed the first one in position but didn’t get further as I had again noticed a few bluebells at the other end of the same flowerbed and dug them out along with some of the large stones we had there as a temporary measure. Most of the bluebells on this occasion were beneath those now removed stones. The stones will be used in constructing the edging……

The shrub second from the left I had to dig out in order to get at a couple of large bluebells. I replanted it slightly to the right of its original position. During the construction of the Mound a couple of years ago we moved some of the natural stones we had discovered beneath the ground and put then at the end of the flowerbed on the right of the patio. I’ll refer to that bed as the west wall flowerbed…

In the space immediately right of the large bright green shrub I removed a few of those large stones and moved them using a truck to the long flowerbed for use in constructing the edging there. I may at some point dig out the stone slabs immediately beneath the large shrub but they are very large and were used to hold back the weeds and everything else that was growing in the wild corner before the Mound project got underway. You can see in the bottom right corner a small part of the new Mound. The area shown in the above picture is just left of centre in the picture below (taken a couple of years ago) and the area in the preceding picture at the end of the long flowerbed is shown right of centre next to the rear wall…

I mention again that all the large stones and paving slabs (to the rear of the Mound) dotted around the rear garden and some in the front garden were all found beneath the corner where the new Mound is now. The Mound is the island surrounded by a path in the above picture for those new to my blog. To see older posts regarding the Mound use the search box on the right. Anyway to get back to Friday, I cut short my time in the garden to a couple of hours because I didn’t wish to overdo things, after all there is no hurry and I’d only wear myself out!

Shirley Anne

Six and a half

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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.

Shirley Anne

Too busy?

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I had ordered a long LED lighting unit on Friday for a customer in whose house I had been working. My supplier told me it would be delivered to them on Monday morning so I arranged with the customer to install it as soon as it was available. I knew the delivery to the supplier would probably be mid to late morning so in the meantime I continued to work in the ‘Mound’ removing more bluebells. My readers might remember I had done some of the work on Sunday but heavy rain put a stop to it. Monday was a fine and sunny day throughout, ideal for working outside. I had a two-hour slot before I would collect the light unit and install it. Before I could return to the spot where I had left-off digging I saw more bluebells a short distance away which I decided to remove first. Eventually I returned to where I had left-off and removed those I hadn’t been able to on Sunday but in the process I dug out a large amount of stones too, including this slab of natural stone buried deep beneath the surface…

The longest side measures something like half a metre. No doubt there are more like it buried in the Mound. A couple of years ago we removed many large slabs of natural stone, some of which are in the picture above. At that time we dug out enough to make a pathway with stone edging as you can see above (enter ‘Mound’ in the search box to see more pictures). I collected the light unit and went to install it but was asked if I could fit two replacement switches too. Whilst there I received two calls from other customers and did those jobs too. One was for an elderly lady of 97 whose doorbell wasn’t working. She was very sprightly for someone of that age, very independent and insisting she remained living in her own house rather than in a rest home. What a lady! It was three-thirty in the afternoon before I could eat lunch so it was a case of visiting the pub and eating there. I was in no mood for cooking at home. At that hour there were plenty of vacant tables and I was spoilt for choice. I spoke with a couple of guys I know who were standing at the bar before seating myself for lunch, well dinner really as it wasn’t just a snack. I arrived back home around five-thirty satiated but tired…….Tuesday would find me at work again.

Shirley Anne