Saturday, 25 April 2015

Pond edging

Thanks to the incredible bounty of our recent 'log delivery' I have finally been able to create a neat finish around the far edge of the Big Pond.  The idea is fairly simple and copies the Top Pond, the only difference being here I've used logs and up by the house I had stone to work with.

Once I'd worked out what to do (and had the materials for it), the whole job was fairly straightforward.  The logs I've used are generally about five or six inches in diameter and a row was laid around the pond edge.

Soil from the edge of the compost heap (I think it was spare turf before composting) was piled into the channel I created.

Small ivy planted, and a topping of decent compost.

With a little help from LP's chainsaw, more logs on top to cover the soil.  Hopefully in two or three years time the ivy will have covered the logs creating lots of interesting spaces where frogs and newts can be safe.  If the ivy grows into the grass then lawn-mowing will keep it in check, although does it really matter if a lovely evergreen really useful plant stretches its legs a bit :-)

Unusually for a weekend LP was with us today but it was too damp this morning for him to help Management as planned.  Therefore he and I set to moving the rest of the logs off the driveway and at the bottom of the pile came across two huge pieces, both 'interesting shapes'.  We had fun messing with the pond edge to position them and the end result is terrific.

It's also terrific to have the drive clear and another huge log pile safely tucked away at the top of the garden :-)

Tuesday, 21 April 2015

"Just" a local dog walk

There have been very few walking posts recently, but Daisy and I have still been getting out two or three times each week, even if I don't take photos and write about it.  On Tuesday I'd thought about following David Hall's route around Cogra Moss and up to Blake but two minutes down the road and the car registering over 21 degrees nixed that plan.  Instead we had a gentle bimble around Holme Wood where we could stay under the trees and get some shade.

Not exactly hard-core fell walking but who cares?  Daisy certainly didn't seem to mind :-)

Saturday, 18 April 2015

Hot knife through butter

The tree surgeon who brought all that lovely timber last week was 'rewarded' for his generosity by getting the job of grinding out three leylandii stumps.  With a nearly new (and freshly sharpened) stump grinder, Simon and Paul went through the stumps like the proverbial hot knife through butter.

They worked extremely hard, were careful and conscientious and went 'the extra mile' to leave the ground as level and tidy as possible.  We were all worried about a stone getting thrown out and going through the greenhouse, hence the tarp, but in the event nothing untoward happened.  If only everything in the garden went as smoothly.

A quick before and after:

And some 'during':

Daisy did not like the noise and kept well back; she positioned herself as far away as possible whilst still being able to see me moving around near the shed.

Normal people go to B&Q for garden supplies

We are not normal :-)

Friday, 17 April 2015

Progress, at a price

The weather continues to be lovely and we continue to make progress on the landscaping.  LP did not get the job which he interviewed for last week, so for now we continue 'as normal' although he's applied for something else and I have a strong suspicion that this time he'll be successful.   Cutting the grass has become a priority because Daisy has, once again, reacted to something and the bare skin on her tummy was red, inflamed and very itchy.  We think it's buttercups so she is on a very low dose of steroid to calm things down and a herbal 'nutria-ceutical' which is mean to be anti-allergenic.  Whilst I'm sorry to behead the buttercups just as the bees are starting to forage, Daisy has to take priority.

So, onto the litany of "look at me, haven't we made good progress in the garden" which at present it feels like an endless refrain and I'm fed up with it.  I can't quite work out how to say this without sounding extraordinarily ungrateful and deserving of a good slap, which is why there's not been much on the blogging front for the last week or so.  I am thrilled with how, generally, the garden is shaping up (conveniently ignoring the Cottage Garden which is rapidly going feral!)  I am more than thrilled to be in such a fortunate position, and actually to have the time and resources to do all this.  But, it's now been seven endless years and I want it to be over.

I don't want to have a continual list of construction work that requires someone else who is bigger, stronger and fitter than me to actually implement.

All I want is to garden; to grow things, to tend our plants, to wander around and weed or dead-head, to plan what needs splitting, propagating, pruning.  But the price I must currently pay for all the landscaping progress is to struggle to find the time to do the fun stuff, although I am staying sane by telling myself that this is the last season (hopefully) we will be doing groundwork.  "Just keep telling yourself that, honey".

So, after a bit of childish belly-aching and whinging, what's happening at Bag End?

Well, I've planted out the first section of box hedging, I already love how it looks.  Apparently box responds well to a good seaweed feed every couple of weeks and doing so can keep the dreaded blight at bay - got to be worth a try.

I also moved far more logs than is probably good for me (or my shoulders).

We hopefully no longer have a drainage problem going from the nursery area to the Cottage Garden.  LP collected and moved a ton of "sub-base" which, when compacted, should give us a firm and water-permeable surface.  Eventually all our paths are going to be finished like this but this little section couldn't wait.

LP and I had a major clear-out of the area behind our shed where the compost bins used to be.   Daisy is included in this rubbish photo for scale - LP excavated around the edge of a huge tree stump.

The big tarp?  That's for tomorrow.

An extremely silly picture of Daisy is included because I love the way the light falls on her ear :-)

Sunday, 12 April 2015

Easter holiday

Including weekends, Management has had ten days off; I can't remember when he last had that long without being interrupted by work.  It's done us both a lot of good and although we didn't go away, it feels like we've had a proper break.  The first few days presented thick low cloud low - definitely inversion conditions - and typically we couldn't go walking.  Appointments with the "usual" Bag End procession of plumber, window fitter and goodness what else kept us at home so we cooked.  The freezer gained 14 portions of the best Chilli I've ever made (it would have been 16 but I've already had it twice!), the same amount of Cottage Pie, and a large quantity of Chickpea and Aubergine curry.

LP had been away over Easter but his route back enabled the collection of two more IBC tanks . . .

He came in on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday afternoon but this week his task was to help Management, not me. M. was extremely busy with his welding gear over the Bank Holiday, re-purposing a steel frame which had been fitted next to the house but turned out to be in the wrong place.

It is already filled with water (syphoned from the greenhouse tank) but will be connected to the adjacent downpipe.  Later in the year the bushes in the fruit cage will thank us for all this work :-}  Once the Clematis montana discovers there's additional 'trellis' to clamber over it won't be long before the tank is camouflaged a little.

M. then extended the metal frame next to the greenhouse to accommodate two tanks.  Last year one 1,000 litre tank was barely enough during a dry spell, and the surface area of the sheds and log store is more than enough to fill two IBCs.

Whilst they were in "metal mode", a casual comment from me was acted upon and the nursery area gained a small frame to support two ordinary water butts.  These will take the water from the greenhouse roof.  If the strawberry cage and cold frames need more water in the summer I can always bring a hose across from the two big tanks.

Easter was already looking like I'd received more gardening presents than half a dozen Christmases rolled up together but there was still one more surprise to come.  A neighbour was having some tree work done, and as is my way, I "just happened to wander round with Daisy" and asked, pretty please nicely, if there was a chance of any proper bark chip for the paths.  The answer was more than "yes" - the tree surgeon brought us a trailer of not bark chip but pure wood chippings, not a single leaf in it.  Later the same day he arrived with a trailer of logs - THREE TIMES.  The neighbour doesn't have a woodburner and was desperate to get rid of the timber.  Two leylandii, a similar size to the giants we got rid of, had been felled and there was a lot of wood!  Someone had asked if he could have "the small stuff" so we got everything else.  I had to force a couple of bottles of wine on our neighbour, and the tree surgeon had to be bullied into taking petrol money.

Whilst the boys were welding, I moved about two-thirds of the bark to refresh the path which had been washed away, and before LP left on Thursday, he and Management sorted the log pile for me.  I may never get a chance like this again, so I am going to use the straight lengths to finally finish the edging on the Big Pond, and to renew the path edging in the Coppice.

In the New Garden, I haven't been completely idle.  Last week LP raked the soil again, and I've moved paving slabs into roughly the right position to give us an idea as to whether this really is where we want the path.

It really has been a very Happy Easter :-)