More heather

A couple of days ago (I write on 12 th April) I purchased several heather plants and at the time thought I should have purchased more for there were still some empty spaces here and there around the garden. I chose heather because first of all I like it but it flowers too and spreads itself out a little more than many plants at ground level. Heather was the ideal plant to fill in some bare spaces. When I went to the garden centre I had forgotten I had a couple of vouchers in my purse. As you buy at Dobbies you are credited with points for every purchase as well as getting a reduction in the price if you are a member. A couple of times each year they send out vouchers reflecting your points total converted to currency, a kind of cash back if you like. There is a catch though, the vouchers have a limited life so must be spent or you lose the credit. A crafty way to ensure your return! That’s fine if you purchase things on a regular basis for you cannot lose. Anyway I thought I would put the vouchers toward another purchase. Their value amounted to £11.12, not a great amount but I only had to pay an extra £3 or so when I returned to purchase four more plants which normally would have cost £14. Whilst there I had one of the two of my free monthly coffees too. E wasn’t with me this time else she would have taken the other one! I had been for my usual walk then had breakfast before driving to the service station to fill my van with diesel and to purchase some petrol for the new mower. It looks as if I will be needing it again soon. Once that was done it was off to the garden centre. Here are the new plants which I dug in as soon as I returned home. The top picture is in the Plot and the heather is dead-centre next to the capping stone. It should fill much of the surrounding space when it is established

The next picture shows the Mound and the two extra heather plants are at dead-centre and top-right between the Camellia and the small conifer on the right.

The last picture shows the so-called tree heather which will grow to a height of 1.2 metres. It is the bright green plant right of centre at the top. Just left of the conifer is a small plant which is struggling to grow where it is so I might try and place it somewhere else and replace it with another Phoenix Canariensis or similar plant. It will be easy to protect in Winter as it backed by the greenhouse. There is no such thing as having nothing to do in a garden!

Shirley Anne

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More garden work

There was but one small thing to do in the garage and that was to fit the other keyhole escutcheon disc on the inside of the new door. I had been too busy to fit it on Monday as I was concentrating on other things. It would only have taken a few minutes to do so I thought but when I did fit it on Tuesday morning it proved to be a bit of a nuisance. One of the screws simply wouldn’t screw in all the way perhaps because there was a small knot inside the wood. I had to find another shorter screw and then found it wasn’t holding! Back to the first screw again and I dropped it on the floor and spent five minutes looking for it. You have to remember these screws are quite tiny. Eventually I managed to screw it in with the aid of a persuading tool….a hammer! The second screw had to be put in at a slight angle as there wasn’t enough wood immediately behind it because the slot was just a tad too wide. You have to be spot on with these things but isn’t it usually the case that the small things cause the most problems? I find it so anyway. The main task for the day was a job in the garden, specifically on the patio. If you remember a few weeks ago I wrote about topping the two small flowerbeds with pebbles, well I wanted to do the same with the larger bed.

First of all though I had to add some compost and a generous helping of bone meal. There was just enough of the pebbles remaining to cover the surface though I had to pinch some from the lawn feature to do it. Fortunately the lawn feature had more than enough pebbles to lose a few. Notice the Phoenix Canariensis nearest the camera in the first shot and on the far right in the second. It had been cut back drastically after the wind damage caused by ‘The Beast from the East’ two winters ago. New growth has sprung from the centre so it has recovered though looking a bit sad.

The other looks better for being larger but it was damaged too and it hasn’t as yet produced new growth like the other one. During the winter just past they were both well wrapped up and suffered no further damage. The ones in the smaller beds on the other hand are doing enormously well but they are better protected from the wind. That was all I did on the day except to give the garden another watering.

Shirley Anne

Just not worth it

It was Friday and a day to take an early morning walk. It wasn’t particularly warm at seven o’clock when I stepped out and throughout the walk there was a chilly wind from the south east. At first the sun was shining but soon it was covered with clouds and it felt cold. Although the walk itself was enjoyable the wind made it a little uncomfortable. Back home and it was time for breakfast. As the morning progressed it became sunnier by the hour and by lunch time it was quite a warm day. The wind persisted though not as strong and not as cool as it had been. I mentioned in yesterday’s post that I might do some work in the garden over the weekend and perhaps today too but I decided against it and sat on the patio after lunch sunbathing again! Sunbathing in the UK in February? Well it has been quite unusual weather for the month. One of the things I had intended to do in the garden was to remove more bluebells. Two years ago at this time I had been digging them out by the hundreds as well as montbretia plants too but the main reason for that was to enable me to repopulate the main once almost barren flowerbed that had begun to look untidy. There were some trees that needed to be removed and others requiring straightening and pruning but I wanted to organise the bed and put in more plants. All I saw before me was an overgrown flowerbed filled with bluebells, montbretia, weeds and grass. There had been a similar problem on The Mound though not as bad. I made it my business to clean it all up and remove the unwanted plants and weeds. Bluebells though are very difficult to eradicate for their minute seeds can lay dormant in the soil and pop up later. That has been the case for the past two years.

Bluebells

Now that the flowerbed has established plants and shrubs in it the bluebells are less of a problem and can be kept to a respectable minimum. So I have decided to stop trying to eradicate them but to allow them to grow and keep them under control. I do like bluebells despite all my past efforts to remove them but they do need controlling. However I will remove any montbretia that I find growing in the rear garden for they really do look untidy and especially after the growing season when all the leaves die and lay there still attached to the bulbs. We do have montbretia in the front garden but they are in places where they are not a problem.

As the picture shows the montbretia though looking very nice can and do take over any spare ground and grow quite tall. Unless other plants in the same bed are taller they will be hidden. Having made the decision not to be too enthusiastic in removing the bluebells but only the montbretia (which are far easier to remove) I can concentrate on other things.

Shirley Anne

Little by little

Following on from yesterday’s post where I had gotten outside at five am to remove the remaining turf from the new plot I rested a short while before driving to the supermarket for the weekly shopping. On my return E rose from her slumber and came downstairs for breakfast by which time I had packed all the food away. I sat with her and ate something myself as my breakfast had been almost six hours earlier. We are like ships passing in the night, she likes to stay up late and rise late whereas I like to retire early and rise early. Anyway an hour after eating I returned to the garden project and E came outside to help decide which of the plants went where. She returned indoors to her workshop and I planted the shrubs….    

There are only five but that is because they grow outward as well as upward and much of the space will eventually be covered. The two on the right at the back (or nearest the path on the right) grow to a height of around two and a half to three metres with a two metres spread unless they are pruned of course. The two on the left either side of the dwarf conifer grow to around a metre and a half with a similar spread. The conifer mainly grows upward with only a little spread. As there is only around 250 mm of topsoil before the sand beneath is reached I had to dig wide and deep to remove some of the sand before refilling the hole with about a metre of soil and compost for each of the plants. That was stage four completed. There will be more to follow before it is completed.

Shirley Anne

Moving along

No walk for me this morning as I went yesterday. It is the 25 th and the first thing I did when I arrived downstairs at three o’clock was to prepare and bake an apple pie using the left-over pastry to make a small blueberry- filled pasty. Who makes pastry and bakes pies at three in the morning? It is great being retired as I can please myself what to do and when to do it, a luxury I couldn’t enjoy when working. anyway the result was this..

I think they are an improvement on the first ones I made the other day and the apple pie is larger too. This time I rolled the pastry a little thinner and coated the top with milk before adding a sprinkling of sugar. If you remember I hadn’t baked a pie before, that is one covered in pastry. I tended to make crumble instead. After the baking I ate breakfast but I really wanted to get into the garden to do a little work. I had to wait a couple of hours before that could happen of course unless I was to work in the moonlight! When I did get out there all I did was to scrub the cobbles with a stiff brush and water. I wasn’t able to remove all of the cement from the tops of the cobbles but I would be tackling that job again later on. Rubbing a piece of stone or brick over them will clean off the cement but it will be a down on my hands and knees job. When E came down for breakfast I suggested we might go to the garden centre to purchase the plants we would be putting inside the new plot and whilst I was waiting for her to finish her breakfast and get ready I decided to mow the lawn then off we went to purchase the plants.

There are five of them and they are standing on the path immediately in front of the small greenhouse and behind the main flowerbed there. They would have to stay there until I was ready to plant them. After a little something for lunch I went out again into the garden for an hour or so and began digging out the grass inside the new plot..

It isn’t much to look at but the main work was in removing the soil from the sods and dumping it in the flowerbeds. We are not allowed to dump soil in the green waste wheelie bins so the soil must be removed beforehand. Even when the grass is fully removed the remaining soil level needs to be dropped a little too. At least the work is moving along in the right direction!

Shirley Anne

Moving on slowly

After breakfast on Friday (16th) I once again put on my overalls and began working on the pit. There wasn’t much I could do other than skim the edge beneath the newly fitted handrail I had installed on Thursday afternoon and to roughly fill in the edge on the opposite end of the pit. That end would hopefully be smoothed out and finished on Saturday leaving only the floor of the pit to be covered with a screed.

I should be able to get the floor done on Monday and Tuesday if all goes to plan. When that is done all that will be left to do will be cosmetic, sealing the concrete, painting and such. So I only spent an hour working on the project and decided I would take a short walk down to the beach for an hour. I hadn’t been out for a walk for over a week and had simply taken exercise on the equipment instead. To be quite frank I was too tired to go for long walks and fitting in some time on the equipment had been much easier. It was such a nice warm and sunny morning but by the afternoon it had turned a little cooler and dull. After lunch E and I spent a few minutes in the garden preparing the soil in the raised bed between the greenhouses for planting potatoes. I had already planted rhubarb at one end of the bed a few weeks ago and recently had separated the area using paving edge stones…

The rhubarb is at the far right of the bed and some has already begun to grow. As you can see we have made four rows of mounded-up soil and each has around six potatoes in them. The remaining two potatoes were planted in a bucket though I may change my mind and transfer them to the bed if I can. We had strawberries growing in the bed two years ago but they grew wild and too much of the fruit was eaten by woodlice so we dug them out. I transferred a couple of them to pots and grew them in the large greenhouse last year where I could protect them from being eaten.

Shirley Anne

Not quite to plan

In yesterday’s post I mentioned I was leaving off working on any projects at home until the new year. However, as I am too active a person I didn’t include that to mean I wouldn’t be doing anything! For a time now I have been considering moving the rhubarb from the small bed the corms were in and putting them in the raised bed between the two greenhouses. I had cleared the bed some months ago so it is lying empty at the moment.

With that in mind I dug them out and now have a small spare space in which to plant something else.

For the time being (as I write this on Fri 22) I have placed the corms on the large empty bed. I intend to dig in some compost from the compost bin before planting them. They will occupy the far end of the bed next to the main garden wall as E wishes to grow some vegetables in the same bed later. I think she’s intending to plant beetroot and maybe some other root vegetables though not potato, not this time round anyway. I have been wondering what to put in the spare space, another dwarf fan palm? A dwarf conifer? Flowers? I am not sure right now but I would prefer something on the taller side rather than ground-hugging. I have also been busy digging out a few montbretia plants that have been popping up here and there. If my readers remember I spent the first three or four months of the year digging out those rascals along with bluebells. I expect I will be doing much the same these next few months too although on a much smaller scale as I expect there to be far fewer.

Shirley Anne

 

More beach combing

I went for another long walk on Wednesday (25) and at the same time gathered some pebbles and stones for the garden. For the past few weeks I have been doing this. I take along a small shoulder bag and fill it with the stones of which there are many lying on the beach. Gradually I collected enough for what I wanted them for, putting in one of the flowerbeds in the rear garden. The pebbles and stones are not native to the beach at Southport for it is one of those beaches where only sand can be found, apart from coal, marram grass and a few other plant species. The stones and pebbles are what remain from  the construction of sea defences built a few years ago and were simply not removed. Why would they be?

The stones are there for the picking though I suppose not many folk do. In fact I never did until recently. A few posts ago I wrote about coal deposits on the shore here at Southport. That is the only other thing apart from sea shells of course which can be freely collected when it is washed up on the shore. 

Just a few more and there will be enough to complete those parts of the bed I wish to cover. The exposed soil you see in the pictures above will be filled with small flowers, the leaves of which can be seen in front of the stones. They have yet to grow but the variety of plant does eventually spread to give the cover and colour required. In the picture below the same variety of plant is in amongst the stones and around the base of the holly tree trunk in the centre of the picture.

When in bloom they have yellow, red and purple flowers. They are more or less maintenance free too which is a bonus. A week or so back I posted a picture of a couple of ‘mums’ just beginning to bloom as they do in October. I took these pictures on Wednesday too… 

Big balls of colour!

Shirley Anne

Strawbs and stuff

I was feeling just a little tired after my early morning walk on Thursday but after a bit of breakfast and a short rest I was eager to do some gardening. My first task was to separate the two Fan Palm plants we had purchased the day before. They were growing in the same pot though we were able to purchase them for the price of one. It can be difficult separating plants if they have been growing in the same pot for any length of time and these two were no exception. It was like separating spaghetti without damaging it. Their roots had intermingled but with a little patience I managed to untangle them without damage and without losing too much of the medium in which they were growing. Adding new growing compost and extra feed I replanted one in the pot and gave it a thorough watering. I took the other into the front garden and planted it there giving it the same treatment as its twin.

The other I placed alongside the Olearia ready for planting out later, probably well into next month for a special reason. Here they are and will stay in the meantime….soaking up the sun in a warmer part of the garden..

I have to wait in order to plant them out because one of them will be going in the space already occupied by a deciduous bush which will be planted elsewhere. I need to wait until it dies-back for the colder months and in this plant’s case it will be sometime in September. It is already showing signs of doing that….

It is the plant just right of centre against the wall. It produces bright yellow flowers in Spring but the leaves as you can see are now wilting. Last year when I planted it there the same thing happened and I thought it was simply wanting water but I had been watering it every day as it was still establishing itself. I hope to place the Olearia there as it grows quite tall and in the space to the left and forward I hope to plant the Fan Palm, The wall is south-facing in case you were wondering. After doing that work I planted the Azalea in front of the Phoenix Canariensis in the west flowerbed and set into the soil a couple of stepping-stones to the left of it. You can just see the first one at bottom left. The second is out-of-sight top left. The Phoenix will grow much taller eventually. 

Following that I planted out the new Dahlia near to the bird bath. The deciduous bush will be planted against the wall in the space directly behind the Dahlia which is at the front in this picture…

I should have stopped there for lunch but as I had a late breakfast I worked on and applied the lawn weed killer using a watering can. That took some time but it got done and then it was time for lunch. It was much later when I gave the whole garden a watering and I took these photos as well as this one through the greenhouse glass….

This plant has produced many strawberries this season.and as you can see there are more ripening up in the sunshine.

Click on images to magnify.

Shirley Anne

Before I forget

Tired and Emotional
Tired and Emotional (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I arose very early on Tuesday morning and was soon up and about though still remaining a little tired. I have had these feelings for quite some time, tired, listless, drained and not wanting to do anything but sit or lie down. I don’t give in to such thoughts of course, I keep active instead. One of the reasons I awoke was to do something about that tree stump in the front garden which stubbornly refuses any attempt to remove it. After breakfast I donned my overalls and gave it another go but was soon defeated, the saw made only a small amount of progress so I put it away. Attempt number two was a better idea. I took my cordless drill and a wood bit to the stump and drilled several deep holes in it. Next I poured into the holes some herbicide until they were full. Now all I have to do is wait and see if that gets results. Hopefully it will otherwise I will have to think of something else, a chainsaw perhaps? Anyway I returned indoors to chat with E who had just come downstairs for her breakfast. She’d asked what I had been doing so early in the morning and then we chatted about other things. I mentioned a dream I had dreamt but at first I couldn’t remember it’s content. Immediately upon waking I kept the dream in my thoughts in the hope I could write it down later as I usually do. In the dream I was visiting a building site, the house someone was building. On my arrival there I saw a tower of scaffolding standing about seven or eight metres high and I started to climb it in order to reach the person whose house it would become when finished. I thought it was extremely odd that this person, a guy, a colleague from my past was involved with such a project as that sort of work was foreign to him, he just wasn’t capable. His wife was with him and it seemed that she had more knowledge of what to do than he had. Just then the scaffolding fell away from the house, though it no longer appeared to be a house but an open-sided factory of some sort. I fell to the ground surrounded by the scaffold and severely injured. Somehow I managed to dig myself out and was furious with my ex-colleague. I somehow pushed the scaffolding back to its original position and upright as I argued with him. I have no idea where the strength to do that had come from! I then found myself carrying out some work before I woke up rather abruptly. Now what I am about to write you may find as strange as I did, I had blood on my night-clothes. It was fresh blood and was easily washed off (I washed the whole garment later) in the hand basin. I checked my body for evidence of any wounds and could not find anything! What can I say?

Shirley Anne