Saturday, 19 April 2014

Life's Like that

Its been lovely to have some sunny and mainly warm weather, if a touch chilly in the mornings and overnight. This of course is typical because I have been back at work this week. The lighter evenings are great too as it means there is the chance of getting small jobs done after work when I get home. Although being under the weather with a cold this week hasn't helped and my energy levels are low. There has been much discussion, planning and decision making going on in the past couple of weeks here, more about that in another post. 

Sunning them selves at work today

Sometimes just as you think life is settling down and back into some sort of order after a very difficult and life changing 5 years, another curved ball comes your way, taking you on yet another journey and a road you never expected to take. Although its a daunting road and will be hard work it may well be one of the more sensible decisions I have made in a long time. Time as they say will tell.

Primula auricula 'Hetty Woolf'

There is so much flowering in the garden this week. All the daffodils are out, the cherrys amd Ribes are flowering, s are rhododendrons, hellebores, anemones and Tulips thinking about it. My collection of auricula primulas are flowering including the new ones I was gifted a month or so ago. Hopefully I'll get more photos taken over the weekend. 

I found this quote while I was de cluttering my links and so on and thought it was very relevant to my changing plans and roads to travel in the upcoming months.

Have a great weekend and happy Easter.


Emily Perl Kingsley.

c1987 by Emily Perl Kingsley. All rights reserved
I am often asked to describe the experience of raising a child with a disability - to try to help people who have not shared that unique experience to understand it, to imagine how it would feel. It's like this......
When you're going to have a baby, it's like planning a fabulous vacation trip - to Italy. You buy a bunch of guide books and make your wonderful plans. The Coliseum. The Michelangelo David. The gondolas in Venice. You may learn some handy phrases in Italian. It's all very exciting.
After months of eager anticipation, the day finally arrives. You pack your bags and off you go. Several hours later, the plane lands. The stewardess comes in and says, "Welcome to Holland."
"Holland?!?" you say. "What do you mean Holland?? I signed up for Italy! I'm supposed to be in Italy. All my life I've dreamed of going to Italy."
But there's been a change in the flight plan. They've landed in Holland and there you must stay.
The important thing is that they haven't taken you to a horrible, disgusting, filthy place, full of pestilence, famine and disease. It's just a different place.
So you must go out and buy new guide books. And you must learn a whole new language. And you will meet a whole new group of people you would never have met.
It's just a different place. It's slower-paced than Italy, less flashy than Italy. But after you've been there for a while and you catch your breath, you look around.... and you begin to notice that Holland has windmills....and Holland has tulips. Holland even has Rembrandts.
But everyone you know is busy coming and going from Italy... and they're all bragging about what a wonderful time they had there. And for the rest of your life, you will say "Yes, that's where I was supposed to go. That's what I had planned."
And the pain of that will never, ever, ever, ever go away... because the loss of that dream is a very very significant loss.
But... if you spend your life mourning the fact that you didn't get to Italy, you may never be free to enjoy the very special, the very lovely things ... about Holland.

One of last years Eryngium seedheads

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Saturday, 12 April 2014

Easter Holiday Musings

I've been off this week with the kids for Easter, typically the weather has mainly been lousy. Hey ho. I managed to grab an hour or so to sort some tree stakes and ties in between showers earlier in the week. We loaded up the barrow with stakes, ties, hammer and staples and went round the garden checking and sorting stakes. Loose stakes got hammered back in straight, broken tree ties were replaced and ones that were too tight loosened off. A couple of trees were right over, after they had  blown over in recent strong winds. These will hopefully survive and are now upright and firmly tied to strong stakes. It's important to make sure the ties aren't too tight, otherwise they will constrict and damage the trees.

An example of staking trees
 (this is the Pinus sylvestris when first planted in 2001)

Another damp day during the week found me in the greenhouses, giving them a tidy. The Pelargonium collection got pinched back to create more compact plants. I picked up dead leaves, threw some dead plants out and swept the floorst. I also gave everything a good water with some liquid plant food in the hose feeder to give the plants a kick-start for spring. Its now warm enough to switch the heating off in the large greenhouse which will save money and means I can leave the greenhouse open to vent it and get some air movement.

Cleaning out the small greenhouse
On Tuesday I spent a pleasant morning re-potting lillies and other bulbs and plants in the two greenhouses. I put the lilies out in the cold frame to harden off, along withe a number of plants and containers that get dotted around the garden for summer. Most got a sprinkling of pelleted chicken manure and a top dressing of new compost. Its still a wee bit cold for some plants to come out, so they got the pelleted fertiliser and top dressed with compost and will go out once its warmer.

About to get tidied and repotted
Waiting to be repotted

Waiting to be used in the potting shed

All re potted ready for summer
On Thursday we had a day at home in the garden. The weather was dry, breezy but quite warm, especially as I was digging. David and Adam moved several barrows and car bootfuls of type one down the track, to fill in the pot holes which will make a great difference to the cars. I tackled a new bed in the front garden, in front of the tree line wall. Because of the solid sub-clay (which refused to be broken up by a mini digger last year) the drainage here is awful. This means the unpleasant clay "soil" on top doesn't drain, lying there being soup-like and welly-grabbing at worst, claggy and smelly at best. Once I had dug over the "soil" I then dug out a drainage channel along the back of the bed and down one side a spade depth and width, down to the sub clay. We will leave this open to drain the soil round about for a week or so before installing a land drain, to permanently keep it drained. The water was running freely as soon as I started creating the ditch, so it will improve the prospects of plants in the border greatly in the future. Once the land drain is installed, better soil can be added to the bed.  It can be planted up with a mixture of perennials creating a ten foot deep herbaceous border, running in font of the wall and giving colour all year round.

Starting to weed and dig over new border
The drainage trench along the back of the border

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Friday, 4 April 2014

At last the Garden is Tidy

Shame it doesn't last! But because I've weeded so thoroughly I won't have to tidy the beds for a while, apart from a quick hoe every so often to get the odd rogue weed out. It was a very foggy murky morning that greeted us, but it wasn't so cold once we were out and working. I spent the day tidying the last of the woodland borders, the moon garden bed and the bog garden. As always it looks so much better once done. The last woodland bed is against a fence and again has a mixture of woodland lovers and shrubs. I have planted a Davidia involucrata here, never expecting it to do much in its exposed and windy spot, but it valiantly grows. I doubt I'll ever see it have its handkerchief flowers, though the leaves are lovely and it provides a nice canopy for small woodlanders. Other plants of note here are a Cautleya and Pulmonaria 'Beth Chatto' which has vivid blue flowers at this time of year.

The three woodland borders tidied

I didn't fork this bed over because it unexpectedly got a top dressing of really nice soil David had found. This was coincidental as I had just been thinking the border could do with a layer of soil to top it up. David had started to clear a mound of soil and slates from the side of the byre, where I planned to put in a border, between the gable end and waterwheel pit. But whenever David puts a spade in the soil he seems to find a buried brick path or brick courtyard! Lo and behold where I planned a border to go there was an area of brick buried six inches below the soil. For some reason this soil was very good (considering some of the awful soil there is on the property). Barrow after barrow was put on all three beds, top dressing the plants and levelling out some hollows. They look even better now but I have to rethink the area next to the byre.

Bracken shows us what has been done today

The Moon garden is so called because it is a narrow, elliptic border surrounding a round lawn. It has silver plants, white daffodils and trees every six feet that will eventually enclose the lawn and make it a natural telescope to the sky. On the east side there is a stone bench built out of stone and a slate slab found here in the grounds. In the centre, under a big upright stone is buried our Sam, our faithful black lab who sadly died two years ago, leaving us all heartbroken. Around the base of the stone are planted blue Hostas and white Geraniums.

The Moon Garden
That looks better

The last area to get tidied was the bog garden, created around a wet ditch down in the woods. Lots of Primulas, Caltha, ferns and Hostas love it here. It floods when wet but can dry out too. A bridge built of sleepers passes over the ditch, taking you to the bottom of the woods.

The bog garden

A day in the garden isn't complete without Bracken keeping us company

I finished planting the new plants in the den border, splitting up more Astilbes and putting in some Miscanthus and Molinia. I had three lots of plants left over, so they went in the back of the northerly border which I plan to expand this year.

David also removed the planks of wood over the waterwheel hole, as they are rotting away and pose more of a danger than the open hole. This is a fascinating area of the property which I excavated about ten years ago. The hole was full of soil, rubbish from the old house and ash. We found a couple of toads hiding in the stonework at the bottom of the pit. It would be wonderful to make a feature of it: so far ferneries and  ponds have been mentioned. We shall see.

Unexpected bricks

The waterwheel hole

Ridiculous dog strikes again

More garden archaeology

The bricked up wall in the waterwheel pit

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