Sorry but…..

‘I’m sorry Shirley Anne but it’s just got to go’, I told myself on Thursday morning. It was a very miserable day on Thursday just as it had been a couple of days earlier, wet and windy, very windy. I had gone to bed the evening before feeling rather down and tired and hoped the new day would be an improvement but it wasn’t. I was feeling a little down because I was tired and some of the events in the day had given me some irritation. It had been one of those days as we say. So Thursday promised better things but it didn’t fare that way for me. In the first place I woke up with a horrible bout of Cystitis and all that comes with it. I have an interim solution for Cystitis which helps until I can get some medication if I haven’t any to hand but it only helps soothe the burning sensation and kill the surface bacteria. It was enough to allow me relief until I went shopping later. However, back to the foul weather. No matter what I tried to hold down the tunnel structure over the patio the wind loosened it and I would have to try something else. There was no way I would get the upper hand and I knew it. When the weather is less windy all is fine but the wind destroys and shows no mercy. Did I mention I hate the wind? Well I do. So what’s got to go? The tunnel. As soon as the weather would allow I would be out there removing it and mark it down as a failure. What would take its place? Well I mentioned that I think in yesterday’s post. Two tee-pees or wigwams if you prefer would replace the one tunnel and should hopefully withstand the wind better. Oh the joys of gardening eh? I did no work on Thursday for not only did I have nether regions problems but I was feeling the effects of maybe a cold but definitely the bad weather. 

Shirley Anne 

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Another one

Wednesday was my walk day and it started off well. It was the end of November (28), more than two-thirds of the way through Autumn and the weather had become noticeably much colder during the preceding week. This morning was no different but at least it was dry but not for long! It had rained the previous evening and into the night but had stopped until twenty minutes into my walk. It wasn’t the rain which bothered me but the wind driving it. Although I enjoyed the walk I was very glad to be back home. I hadn’t taken the route back along the seafront because of the driving wind knowing there would be no shelter from it. I walked home through the back streets instead. As I approached the top end of our road a fox ran across my path and over a wall to my right where there is a large plot of land filled with trees and undergrowth, an ideal place for foxes to live. It is unlikely to be built upon because of its location, the age of the trees and because it stands in the grounds of an apartment block. I carried on homeward to the warmth and breakfast. After some catch-up tv I decided to put on my overalls and get ready to resume working in the cellar. I wasn’t able to do much at first in case I disturbed E from her sleep for I had much sawing to do. I was going to begin cutting and fitting the plywood panels for there was no plasterboard left to finish off the ceiling and I couldn’t leave the house to purchase any. I was expecting the delivery of the pebbles and E had to go out too. As it happened the pebbles were delivered around ten-thirty but the guy had a lot of trouble trying to manoeuvre the pallet truck to get the pallet out of the wagon. Eventually he mustered the help of another delivery driver who just happened to to be making a delivery further up the road. Up until that point I had done very little work but then I continued and got this far..

The far left hand panel with the white cup washers will be readily removable should access to the gate valves ever be necessary. It was whilst working down there that E took a shower in the wet room and I saw the leak from the drain above. It appears that the floor seal around the grid in the wet room had cracked. What an absolute pain! Something else for me to do. In the picture below you can just about see two black streaks running top to bottom on the grey drain housing. The picture below that one shows the frame surround beneath the drain which will have a removable inspection cover too. Just as well it seems!

Later in the afternoon it got very windy indeed and I was fearful that the tunnel on the patio would either be damaged, get blown off or both so I spent a little time out there securing it with more rope. On reflection I don’t think the idea of using the tunnel was a good one and I may simply dismantle it and erect another two tee-pees as I had done with one of the plants in the border close-by.

  Shirley Anne

Keeping an eye out

Nice as it is to have something to do during retirement I sometimes feel I am neglecting some things in favour of others. On the one hand I am keen to sort out my projects and get them completed as soon as possible whilst on the other hand I am keen to keep the gardens as much in order as I can. The weather has been fine for carrying out work in the garden but unfortunately I have not had much spare time to do it because of my indoor activities. However I have made every effort to keep as close a watch on things as I can. At this time of year it can turn cold very quickly and some of the plants suffered because of that last year. I did manage to put up some frost protection but not soon enough and some plants were damaged. This year I took time out from my projects to erect better frost protection for the more vulnerable plants knowing we were in for cold spells. Everything seems to be in order but I still keep an eye out for any damage to the protection screens. At the time of writing (25 th Nov) we haven’t had any strong winds blowing. I am hoping the frost protection is strong enough to withstand any wind coming our way and again I will need to be alert and keep an eye out. Today is Sunday and I have been in the garden checking things out though I’ve not done any work. The garden does need tidying up I admit for there are still fallen leaves gathered in places and scattered elsewhere. Twigs from the neighbour’s tree lie fallen on the grass and in the flowerbeds which we are forever picking up. All these things can be tackled sporadically but I would really prefer to spend a day at least to get it under control. Well I have a couple of months yet before the weather turns warm again, plenty of time for gardening duties. In the meantime most of my work will be concentrated on my projects.

The picture was taken today and yes, those pebbles still haven’t arrived!

Shirley Anne

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

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