Six on Saturday: 29.2.19

Well, we have a rare event, a six on Saturday on the 29th of February. It’ll be around 28 years until we get another. If I’m still doing Six on Saturday hopefully the garden dreams will have become a reality by then.

1. Crocus

I planted 100 croci in the lawn a few months back. They often get lost in the border so it utilises the lawn space by providing flowers for the bees before I start mowing again. The first ones are coming into flower. I think some may have rotted in the wet weather but I think enough have come up that they should establish. I’ve not got the fine spread we saw at the in-laws last week but in time they should spread.

I have a few croci in the borders from previous years. They often get lost in the undergrowth but here is one visible looking pretty with the rain droplets.

2. Moving hydrangeas

I dug the Korean Dwarf Lilac out last month as it was getting too large for space. It was blocking the view down the garden from the extension room. I’ve moved a pink Hydrangea macrophylla from the end of the garden into the gap. The larger hydrangea next to it will be getting a cut soon. The Choisya ternata is also due to have a haircut. Then the two hydrangeas should grow into each other giving a low hedge of pink flowers that we can still see over from the house. Not quite the Hydrangea walk of Exbury but it should work better than the dwarf lilac.

Then I have moved Hydrangea Libelle from its pot into the border where I’d dug the hydrangea above out of. I had hoped to keep it as a small plant in a pot for the patio but its growth in one year makes me think that’s not possible. I’ve also shaved a little bit off the lawn to give the plants here a bit more space. To the left behind this is one of the Hydrangea paniculata ‘limelights’ I planted last year. These two Hydrangeas have slightly different flowers and foliage but I think will combine well. To the right is the Ilex altaclernsis ‘golden king’. This holly will grow up providing a medium evergreen tree. This should give the hydrangeas the shade they like and provide a good backdrop to these. The surrounding area has a few ferns and hostas that are still establishing. The area needs a bit of a tidy but it should look good by summer. Having cut off a little corner of the border there is a little bit of space for new additions to the border. I do have some hardy geraniums or bearded irises that might go here.

3. Raising edging bricks

Along with shaving a little bit of the lawn I’ve raised the height of the bricks I’d used to edge the lawn. The border soil kept covering them so this should help. I also rounded this corner as the grass never grows well here as it’s too shaded. No sense trying to fight it putting grass seed down. The border looks a bit neater for having its edge back. The bricks should get a clean off with all the rain we are now having to wash off the soil left on top while I was raising them.

4. Pruning roses

I finally got around to pruning the roses. I’ve trained in the climbing roses. The aim is to train several stems horizontally to encourage flower production.  the two climbing roses are gradually developing a decent framework. It’s not quite textbook training but’s not a bad effort. Both have clematis growing through that are also getting to reasonable points so I should get a greener fence with bursts of flowers through the year.

5. Acer palmatum ‘Osakazuki’

I’ve had this Acer sat in a corner for a while. I’d bought it a while back as a discount purchase. It should have £70 but was down to £15. A decent price for a tree about a metre and a half in height. Acers don’t really suit my sea winds but I like them enough to persist. This is in a reasonably sheltered spot with climbers working up the fence. That will give it a bit more protection. I’ve given it a mulch with ericaceous soil to help it settle in. This particular Acer should give bright green foliage in spring then fiery orange and red foliage in autumn.

6. Bird stake

I found this pot decoration in the charity shop clutter shelf. I thought it would make a nice garden decoration. I’ve used one of my rusty bird feeder poles I was considering getting rid of to combine them to make a little decoration for the pot display.

It’s been a productive week of getting through jobs despite the weather. I start in my new garden centre job next week. I’m still under strict instructions to not buy tons of plants. We’ll see if I manage it next week. I do need some more compost but this whether I was working at a garden centre or not. Wish me luck!

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Six on Saturday: 22.2.20-A week of practical jobs

I’ve had a super week with Amy and Alice off for half term. We had a great time at Burton Agnes seeing the snowdrop walk. I’ve been busy trying to get jobs completed around the house and in the garden while I’m off work. More news on my work situation later though. I’ve been endeavouring to become more practical and develop more skills. So this week’s six features a mixture of practical and craft activities I’ve done over the last few weeks.

1. New lights

Alice wanted to buy these lights for Amy earlier in the week as mummy likes twinkles. I got some hanging basket hooks and attached them to the log store. I’m not sure the lights are the best quality solar powered ones but they look nice enough during the day as well with the cracked glass look.

2. Lick of paint

I’ve given a few bits of the garden furniture a new lick of paint. The plant stand hadn’t been painted before but looks much smarter for it. The table and chair set up aren’t massively comfortable so I’m going to use this on the patio for a display stand for some of the seasonal flowers. I’ll shift pots onto show as they come into season.

On the plant stand, there are some tins of sempervivums. One of my pots broke so I have employed tins for now to house them. I employed a nail and hammer to hammer some holes for drainage in the bottom. They need top dressing with some gravel. But as I fill up the plant stand it’ll make a smart enough display. Tins heat up in the sun so lose water quickly but as this like to be fairly dry they should be alright.

3. Back gate

The back gate was one of the few casualties in the storms of the last few weeks. It came off its hinges. I don’t think the hinges were really strong enough in the first place. I have gone with some heavier duty hinges and swapped them to the other side of the gate. It’s a job I’ve wanted to do for ages as the gate opened on the wrong side meaning I came out the gate and then had to close it to get down the path. Now I can go straight out with the wheelbarrow. So the storm has spurred me on to complete a job I wanted to do anyway.

4. Front garden

The front garden has spent periods of winter waterlogged. The soil is thick compressed clay. As you can see from the photos it is thick enough to mould with. Digging in it I can see why clay bricks used to be a local industry. I’ve used the auger drill to drill down holes where several of the stepping stones are and then filled with rubble and sand to give several spots the water can drain through a bit better. While I planted many options that like moisture I don’t think many will like to sit permanently in water.

I also got hold of some SupaGrow soil improver to mulch the front garden. This is 4 for £10. Not a bad price for a peat-free option. It took about 5 and a half 50-litre bags to cover the area but it makes the whole area look better each time I do it. The soil improver looks like it may have been green waste. There were a few random bits of plastic in the mix but for the price can’t complain. I wouldn’t be surprised to find weeds coming out of it but fingers crossed it won’t contain anything nasty. The mulch will gradually get taken into the soil by the worms and other life in the soil. This will add nutrients to the plants and help improve the soil structure which will aid the drainage.

I also got around to finishing the last of the stepping stones. When I originally did them I just planned a path to the water butt. Then I decided it would be nice to have a path that went all the way around so I put some temporary log cuts down. These were a bit slippy so I bought the last few stone steps that I needed. Alice likes working her way around it on the way in and out of the house so it keeps her busy while we’re locking and unlocking the door.

5. Scottie doggy

This little dog ornament had been left at my last garden by its previous owner. It came along to my current house hidden in a pot. It’s a bit naff but it had lost almost all its paint. I decided I’d give it a fresh lick of paint while Alice has been crafting. All those years painting Games Workshop figures has to be some use.

6. Punning

I made a new garden sign to give me a bit of motivation as I try to get started in horticulture. This bad pun came to me a while ago and I thought it’d go nicely on a sign. The slate was a cheese board that had been reduced. So I painted on the design and I’ve given it a varnish. It also came with two cheese knives for good measure. I had mentioned that I was looking to change careers and last week I had an interview for a garden centre. I’m pleased to say I was successful. It’s a temporary job but on the growing side which will be an excellent start. Lots to learn.

So, all in all, a good week. I’ve got a week off until I start my new job. I want to try and complete a number of jobs in the house and garden before I start. Then I’ll probably find I’m tired initially while settling into the new job. I’ve already been given strict instructions that I’m not allowed to bring home new plants every day. I’ll have to see whether I get a staff discount.

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Six on Saturday: 15.2.20-dahlia love begins

The garden survived last weekends storm relatively unscathed. I’ve reattached the back gate with heavier duty hinges as it got broken in the wind last weekend. But apart from that, the garden has held up pretty well. We’ll see whether it holds up to the rain this weekend. Despite the weather, I’ve still managed a few jobs this week and still a good couple of flowers still coming out to play.
1. Primula Veris-cowslips

I started with one little pot of cowslips. I’ve gradually been dividing them under the dogwood. Most of the year the dogwood would overshadow this area but the cowslips flower early enough to shine before the dogwood takes over. They provide an early source of nectar for early bees and beetles and provide the garden with a bit of colour early on in the year.

2. Charity find

This week’s charity find was this little painted pot for the price of 20p. I’ve put a cheap pot of daffodils in it for now. Another little burst of colour amongst the foliage plants. The pots have survived through the storms. The log store acts as a bit of a buffer for a few of the pots.

3. Bin tidy

I finally got round to sorting the bin area. I dug out the border, put sand down and these plastic grids that the bins can sit on. Then the area was covered with gravel. We thought it would look neater while still giving drainage rather than the paving we’d originally considered. I’d still like to build a covered bin tidy but it all looks neater than the strip of mud that was there before. The fatsia was only put at the end temporarily but it seems to like the spot so it may stay.

4. Iris reticulata- Katherine Hodgkin

The second of the Iris reticulata varieties to flower and it is a stunner. It rather foolishly decided to open during last week’s storms but has survived the winds. The creamy bloom with the blue veins is a delightful combination. I planted these in one of the tall hosta pots with the idea that they’d be up and flowering and then the hosta would come up later in the year. So far so good.

5. Lupins

I got another batch of seeds sown last week as Alice was pestering to sow something. She’d chosen a mixed bag of lupin seeds a while back. She likes the red ones on the pack. Hopefully, we’ll get some red ones or she might be a bit disappointed. Lots have germinated within a few days so it seems hopeful. I noticed last year at open gardens that almost every garden that was selling plants had lupins so I figure they must be fairly straightforward to raise from seed. I’ll grow them up in recycled plastic pots to protect them from the slugs and snails and then use them to gap-fill later in the year.

6. Plug plants

I picked up a few small plugs to grow on. I got a few of these dahlieta options. I got one last year and it flowered for months across summer and into autumn. They grow small and compact and within regular deadheading and feeding, they can keep flowering. I’ll need to grow these on and pot them on. They’ll need keeping inside initially so I may regret getting them this early but it’d be nice to have an early show of dahlia flowers.

I also got a few Nepeta hederacea plugs. This forms a good trail of variegated foliage. It’s useful for trailing out of pots or hanging baskets. Then I also got a white trailing fuschia that I will probably use in the front garden if it survives potting on.

The garden is currently very calm but we have storm Dennis on the way so I want to check the garden is all secured. I have a handful of jobs to work through over the next week. I’ve got the last few stepping stones I needed for the front garden. I’m going to add some drainage holes to the front while I’m at it. As it’s thick compressed clay having had weed matting and gravel on it for a decade the drainage isn’t great and don’t want it to waterlogged. I’ve also managed to pick up some cheap peat-free soil improver to use to top-dress it. This will gradually get taken into the soil improving the structure which will help drainage. It will also add a few extra nutrients for the plants. I’d started work on a new seat in the back garden and I’ve still got the roses to prune so hopefully get a few dry days after the storm. Hope you all survive the storms and enjoy your weekends.

Saving Water in the house

Using water wisely is significant to help protect our natural world. I’ve written about the advantage of using a water butt before. Since adding the water butts to the front and back garden we’ve had a few people in the neighbourhood tell us they’ve added one. By saving water this helps protect habitats within the countryside. If we have water shortages streams will be potentially be redirected for reservoirs harming existing wildlife. Yorkshire Water was offering a free pack of water-saving devices for the house. As it was free I thought I’d order and see what we got. I have few DIY skills so if it was anything too complicated I wasn’t going to be tackling it and ending up needing to call out a plumber.

In the pack, we got a cistern pack. This is a bag with a biodegradable polymer. Pop it in the toilet cistern and the bag fills up and the polymers enlarge taking up space in the cistern. This is much like the old advice to stick a brick in as it reduces the amount of water used with each flush.

The pack includes tap inserts. The website reckons this can save a household up to £36 a year. These reduce the velocity of the stream and limit splashing. It was easy to fit. It came with a little tool for unscrewing the end of the tap. The pieces slot in and screw back together. 2 minutes work. I don’t know how much of a difference it makes to the water use but out the end of the tap was so gunked with limescale it feels like it flows better. I think it tastes better but this may just be in my head.

The shower regulator is again designed to regulate the flow. The website states 25% of the average UK utility bill is on heating water. This may potentially affect the pressure of the water so I will give it a try and see if it stays.

Then the last item in the pack is a four-minute timer that suctions onto the wall. Trying to cut down the time in the shower cuts both water bills and even if you’re not on a water metre it will save money on heating the water.

If you’re interested in the set check here.

Saving wastewater has made it into the news this week with the Guardian pushing people to give street trees a boost with their washing water.

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2019/aug/01/use-your-waste-water-to-save-street-trees-experts-urge

Well worth a read. Too many trees are planted to expire within the first year. Enjoy!

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Front garden update

The building work is almost at an end. The front of the house is rendered and the brick has been repainted grey. I’ve been hard at work prepping the ground ready for planting.

The ground was covered in pebbles and under this weed matting. Unfortunately, the pebbles have been covered and don’t really do a proper job of suppressing weeds. So I’ve worked taking this all up to get back to the soil under the matting to start afresh making most of this area into a planting area. The ground under is pretty solid clay so I’m working on breaking it up with the mattock. I’m improving the soil structure mixing in some Dalefoot compost in my bid to go peat free and some calcified seaweed. In theory, this should improve the plants chance of taking and growing in the clay soil as well as adding some nutrients.

The removed pebbles have been put down the passage behind the garden to create a more stable path through winter. This becomes a quagmire in wet weather so hopefully, this will improve access year round.

I’ve hammered out the stones that lined the border with the removed hebes. These have quite a bit of concrete still around them. I’m reckon I can still use them though scattered round the border. I’m planning to plant Ilex crenata along this edge creating dark evergreen domes. I’ve got the plants ready to go in. I’m just waiting on the builders to finish their last few jobs so planting can commence.

The path is getting redone with tiles. This should smarten it up from a cracked concrete path. I’ve got to weed it prior to the tiler coming.

While the builders are doing the pipes we’re having a water butt added. This might save me the odd trip round to the tap at the back.

Then the side border of the paths is going to become a bin hideaway and possibly a log store. Neither particularly interesting gardening features but necessary. We may not get a chance to do this until the Summer holiday though.

I’ve made a hanging basket ready. I’d looked into alternatives to the traditional basket of bedding plants and come up with this. The birdcage came from Amazon. It’s been lined with some spare capillary matting. I cut a circle out of a bin bag to put on top to help keep water in. The soil mix has some vermiculite in to help water retention. The plants are coleus, ophiopogon planiscapus and nepeta. The nepeta trails over the edge of the cage. The coleus and opiopogon I thought would contrast nicely in colour and leaf shape. Time will tell how it holds up through Summer but overall I’m happy with the look of it.

I’ve been building plants up for a while buying things up on the cheap. The main focus of the planting is going to be hydrangea limelight in the middle. This will have plenty of space to grow out. The long season of interest should make this a good focal point. Then I have a mixture of ferns, hostas and heucheras to fill around it. Currently it’s all sitting on the back patio.

Along the house wall, I’m planning to pave the edge so we still have access to the windows. Then I have two window boxes made up ready.

I’m itching to get going on the planting up now, but need to wait on the last few builders jobs. But hopefully won’t be too much longer. It’s going to be a slow process for the plants establishing but I’m optimistic that it will work out well.

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The Mattock-The right tool for the job

Over the last few weeks, I’ve seen a run of photos on Twitter and Facebook of broken spades. People have tried using their garden spades to dig out established shrubs and trees or trying to break up hard landscaping. These were all cases of people using the wrong tool for the wrong job.

As mentioned in previous blogs I have lots of building work going on and I am having to remove a number of established shrubs to accommodate the changes. One of the hardest jobs has been removing the hebes from the front garden. I think these have been growing there for about a decade and were starting to die off and no longer flower. The ground was a solid mass of roots. There was almost no soil between the roots to depths of four to six inches. I removed the first one with shovel, loopers and weeding knife. While this got the plant out I knew these were the wrong tools for the job. I figured an axe might be a better tool for the job so did a bit of research and discovered the mattock. I asked around to see if anyone had one I could borrow for the job and had no luck. Pretty much no one even knew what a mattock is. This seems a great pity for such a useful versatile tool.

The term mattock is sometimes used interchangeably with a pickaxe. However, they are different tools. A mattock is a tool with a long handle and metal head. The head has two sides. On one side a narrow axe, then on the other an adze (a horizontal axe blade). The handle is usually wood or fibreglass. The axe head is not fixed on. It can be dismantled for transport. To put the head on it is slid down the handle. Then tapping the handle into a firm surface allows the weight of the head to secure it onto the handle. As such it isn’t designed to be swung up high as the blade can become loose. The mattock is lifted to just above waist height and the weight does much of the digging. The axe can smash apart roots. Then the adze can be used to scrape through. It works through mats of root and sod more easily than the shovel could. The weight adds force you would struggle to deliver with a spade even pushing with your foot. While still a hefty tool to use it is going to prove useful in my front garden where I have solid soil to break it up. This isn’t suitable for breaking up rock, a pickaxe would need using for that. But my ground is just compressed soil with lots of thick roots through.

Evidence for mattocks goes back to the Mesolithic period with mattocks made of antler. By the Bronze Age the mattock design we still use had been established. They have also been used to strip blubber from whales by the Inuit people and the Broch people in Scotland. It was used in agriculture to make planting trenches. Specific forms have been developed for different jobs such as the hop mattock with two forks instead of the axe. The shorter Japanese Ikagata has the same basic adze side combined with a three-pronged fork used for weeding. But the basic design of the mattock has remained the same signalling that this is a useful tool.

BBC-A history of the world-Matthew Bigg’s mattock

A hand mattock in the Hornsea Museum ca. 1840

Within Sumerian mythology the God Enlil created the mattock to give to the humans. It is described as an object of beauty made of pure gold and a head made from lapis lazuli. The tool gives the Sumerians the power to build their cities, subjugate the people and take up weeds. Enlil is an important God within Sumerian mythology separating Earth and Heaven making the world habitable for humans. He is seen as a patron god of agriculture. It’s interesting to read about a tool like this in mythology which has lost its significance in the modern world. But for much of human history, this tool has proved invaluable in digging the earth.

Mesopotamian daggers and mattock head ca. 1000 BCE

My mattock finished off the remaining four hebes in an afternoon. It had taken me an afternoon to remove one without. Whether it is a tool of the gods or not it has proved worth its cost. This might not be a tool you are going to use regularly but it will save time when it is employed for the right job. Which I suppose you can say about any garden tool. But it seems worth saving the lives of all those broken spades and forks and recommending you get a mattock for the serious business of removing roots.

I hope you’ve enjoyed my shout out for this humble and almost forgotten tool. In a day and age where most families will only have a spade, maybe a fork and a hand trowel it is worth looking back to think if you are using the right tool for the job. Is it worth struggling on or go and spend a tenner on a tool that will save you time and stress using the wrong tool? I know I’m thankful I bought my mattock.

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And as a bonus the mattock in poetry.

 SIMON LEE,

THE OLD HUNTSMAN,

With an Incident in which he was concerned.

In the sweet shire of Cardigan,
Not far from pleasant Ivor-hall,
An Old Man dwells, a little man,
I’ve heard he once was tall.
Of years he has upon his back,
No doubt, a burthen weighty;
He says he is three score and ten,
But others say he’s eighty.

A long blue livery-coat has he,
That’s fair behind, and fair before;
Yet, meet him where you will, you see
At once that he is poor.
Full five-and-twenty years he lived
A running Huntsman merry;
And, though he has but one eye left,
His cheek is like a cherry.

No man like him the horn could sound,
And no man was so full of glee;
To say the least, four counties round
Had heard of Simon Lee;
His Master’s dead, and no one now
Dwells in the hall of Ivor;
Men, Dogs, and Horses, all are dead;
He is the sole survivor.

And he is lean and he is sick,
His dwindled body’s half awry;
His ancles, too, are swoln and thick;
His legs are thin and dry.
When he was young he little knew
Of husbandry or tillage;
And now is forced to work, though weak,
—The weakest in the village.

He all the country could outrun,
Could leave both man and horse behind;
And often, ere the race was done,
He reeled and was stone-blind.
And still there’s something in the world
At which his heart rejoices;
For when the chiming hounds are out,
He dearly loves their voices!

His hunting feats have him bereft
Of his right eye, as you may see:
And then, what limbs those feats have left
To poor old Simon Lee!
He has no son, he has no child,
His Wife, an aged woman,
Lives with him, near the waterfall,
Upon the village Common.

Old Ruth works out of doors with him,
And does what Simon cannot do;
For she, not over stout of limb,
Is stouter of the two.
And, though you with your utmost skill
From labour could not wean them,
Alas! ’tis very little, all
Which they can do between them.

Beside their moss-grown hut of clay,
Not twenty paces from the door,
A scrap of land they have, but they
Are poorest of the poor.
This scrap of land he from the heath
Enclosed when he was stronger;
But what avails the land to them,
Which they can till no longer?

Few months of life has he in store,
As he to you will tell,
For still, the more he works, the more
Do his weak ancles swell.
My gentle Reader, I perceive
How patiently you’ve waited,
And I’m afraid that you expect
Some tale will be related.

O Reader! had you in your mind
Such stores as silent thought can bring,
O gentle Reader! you would find
A tale in every thing.
What more I have to say is short,
I hope you’ll kindly take it:
It is no tale; but, should you think,
Perhaps a tale you’ll make it.

One summer-day I chanced to see
This Old Man doing all he could
To unearth the root of an old tree,
A stump of rotten wood.
The mattock tottered in his hand;
So vain was his endeavour
That at the root of the old tree
He might have worked for ever.

“You’re overtasked, good Simon Lee,
Give me your tool,” to him I said;
And at the word right gladly he
Received my proffered aid.
I struck, and with a single blow
The tangled root I severed,
At which the poor Old Man so long
And vainly had endeavoured.

The tears into his eyes were brought,
And thanks and praises seemed to run
So fast out of his heart, I thought
They never would have done.
—I’ve heard of hearts unkind, kind deeds
With coldness still returning.
Alas! the gratitude of men
Has oftener left me mourning.

William Wordsworth

Planting roses

Today’s focus is on planting roses. I’ve removed several roses that had too many years of neglect or were in bad places. I don’t want to lose the long lasting colour from the roses though. Currently I’ve planted two rosa Paul’s Scarlett climber. These will hopefully give me a nice burst of colour through a long period of the year with a bit of care.

To give the roses the best start I’m putting a bit of care into the planting from the advice of the RHS and Monty Don. The rose came with the roots wrapped in plastic. First the plastic needs removing and then the roots need a good soak. I left it in the trug for about an hour. This helps the plant get started soaking up a good amount of water and gives the roots a bit of flexibility for planting.

Dig a hole a bit deeper and wider than the root ball.

Some people recommend putting in slow release feed balls with the roots. However this will mean the roots don’t grow out to look for their own nutrients. Instead I’ve used a little bit of mycorrhizal powder on the roots. This is a fungus that forms a symbiotic relationship with the plant helping the plant develop stronger root systems and take in more nutrients they need.

The packaging recommends two scoops for a plant this size. So one bag will go a good way. It can also be used if moving plants to help them re-establish.

Then another soak filling the hole up.

Then back fill the hole with fresh compost. I’ve buried the rose deep. Advice on this will differ.

The rose has a nice expanse of fence to grow up. There is clematis nearby that can intermingle with the rose. It’s a fairly traditional combination that will hopefully complement each other well.

I also had time for a few quick DIY jobs too. My garden jacket is always a mess in the utility room. I have few DIY skills, but here is a a quick tip I got from Amy’s dad is to masking tape an envelope below drill holes. This catches the dust avoiding some mess.

My first seedlings of this year are poking through now. Always an exciting moment. The cosmea being the first to show.

Hope you’ve found something useful from today’s blog and hopefully I’ll have nice blooms up the fence as the year goes on. Comment if you have any further advice to watch out for as my roses establish.

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Summer Garden Round Up

We have come to the end of the Summer holidays. It’s time to go back to work, so before I do it’s time to sit back and admire the progress made in the garden this Summer.

Patio

On the patio the pots are doing quite well. I moved one of the fuchsias from the border into a barrel planter as it was getting lost in the border. It seems to be doing well for the change. The night scented stock is doing well bringing in some night time insects.

I put my new mitre saw to use making a corner of decking to cover where the cement ground is uneven. At the back is a dwarf cherry tree that was totally dehydrated at the start of the holiday, but re-potted,  some gravel on the top to keep in moisture and plenty of water over Summer has brought it back.

The poached egg plants are flowering well now.

Our newly refurbished table looks nice on the patio giving us a small table for a cuppa.

My parents have passed on another bigger table. This corner of the patio previously had planters built into the walls. However they’d been built without proper drainage. So the worry was that they were damaging the house. I’ve knocked them out this Summer giving us a much bigger space to eventually build our log store and seating area.

Borders

The rose campion has done well flowering throughout the Summer. Reading Margery Fish she wrote that it should self seed a small number of new plants. So hopefully we will still have a patch next year. I’m keeping some seed heads to try to grow some if it doesn’t self seed.

The alyssum is on its second flowering. Now an area is established like my forget me nots it should self seed around the borders.

The sedum is set for flowering giving the pollinators an Autumn food source.

There are still some daisies left to flower.

The pot marigolds are still going strong.

Planting for bees

The foxgloves, hollyhock and borage are still hanging on in there providing for the bees. I don’t think the hollyhock and foxgloves have much more flowering time left in them, but now they’ve established I should have more growing next year.

Shed shade

Next to the newly painted shed is a corner with plenty of shade. I have a variety of ferns doing pretty well. They’ll give me some year round greenery and they suppress the weeds in an awkward to get to corner. Having watched the fern-atic on gardeners world this week I was inspired to add some more. I’ve got two more British varieties to go in.

Roses

I trimmed back the roses in Spring quite severely and they’ve done better this year. I’ve had flowers from the pink rose through all of Summer and still flowers coming.

They do some from fungal infections though. I’m trying some advice from the Beechgrove Garden to spray with water and a few drops of tree oil. This works on fungus and helps protect the leaves. Just don’t do when it’s too sunny or the oil may burn the leaves.

Composting

The compost heap had been filled with rubbish while the house was rented. I’ve removed what was there and put in two bins donated from my dad. The slabs have been upcycled from the patio planter I removed so nothing goes to waste. While the bins aren’t as effective as an open heap they will still give me some compost to put some goodness back in the borders.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this peak into my garden progress.

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Frugal Friday-Not quite shed of the year

This week I’ve started watching shed of the year. So far I’ve seen some pretty amazing Summer houses and some bonkers garden structures: a flight sim in a garage, a cinema in the garden, a nuclear bunker under a shed and a mushroom tree house.
My own shed however has been looking the worse for wear. We had discussed buying a new shed, but checking the roof it’s still in pretty good nick. A few boards at the bottom have rotted through, but it doesn’t really matter to the lawn mower and my garden tools.

So I had an afternoon up on the roof to refelt the roof. Less the relaxing experience of the 1961 song classic as a precarious scramble to get the sheets laid. While not the neatest job it will stop it leaking for a bit longer. It blends in fine with the trees and shrubs in that corner.

To improve the look of the thing its had a coat of culprinol natural slate. It looks pretty good and will prolong the sheds life a little longer. Not bad for a job done during Alice’s nap time.

Amy has been busy too giving a table and chairs a lick of paint too. Culprinol forget me not blue has given an old cheap table set a new lease of life. It matches our bench too.

Rather than spending lots on a new shed a bit of repair work has hopefully saved us money for a few more years. The paint was on offer at Wickes and we have plenty left for other projects.

Today also marks the start of Autumn so a good time for shed repairs. Check out old house in the shires blog on other Autumn jobs.

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Bench of happiness

For the last few weeks I’ve been working on several larger garden jobs: building a paved area for the compost heap, knocking out a brick veg planter on the patio, and building a bench area. The planter is knocked out. It didn’t have proper drainage and was up against a wall of the house. It may of caused water damage if left and it’s also give us a bigger space for a table on the patio. The compost heap was dismantled as while the house was rented the renters filled it with rubbish. In its place is a paved area and a compost bin. The bench area hadn’t come on though as we couldn’t find a bench we liked. We wanted a bench down on the lawn so we have somewhere to sit and watch Alice play.

However at the weekend we saw a sign for a yard sale. Not expecting very much we ventured down to have a nosey. We went down the street and found one of the roads had a number of houses having yard sales. Mostly junk they wanted rid of, but one man was selling planters he built and had a bench he’d made for sale. For the bargain price of £35 we got something a little bit more unique.

The area we wanted the bench to go in has been underused. I had some daffodils there in Spring, but apart from that it’s largely been empty meaning weeds have moved in regularly. The area has a slope to it as I think someone at some stage intended a kind of rockery, but never finished it. So I’ve levelled it a bit and then used the stone bricks I had from knocking out the veg planter to build a line at the back to keep the soil slope back. Then tried to level it flush with the lawn at the front.

Alice was keen to help. I laid some sand to help make a better foundation. I think she thought it was some sort of wonderful sandpit for her, but living by the beach we don’t really need a sandpit. She did spread some sand though with the dibber. The dibber is probably her second favourite tool after the watering can mentioned previously.

 

Then weed matting went down and a layer of gravel around the bench legs. Alice is going through a stage of being fascinated by rocks. So she helped get them out the bag. She didn’t cry though that the stones had to stay when we were done.

All in all I’m pretty happy with the end result. I have few practical skills, beyond looking after plants, so this feels like an achievement. The stones at the front are pretty level with the lawn and feel firm.

The bench area looks good from the house with the view through the hydrangeas.

Hopefully we can enjoy sitting watching Alice enjoy the garden and it won’t subside.