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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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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