Saturday, 18 March 2017

This week in the garden

I've already written about my lovely but thoroughly exhausting day on Wednesday;  although a great deal was accomplished I was completed worn out by the end of it.  Despite being an extremely willing and hard worker, there are occasions when LP has what I refer to as "away days" when his body is present but not necessary connected to his brain.   As a result I had to "micro manage" what was done and it wore me out completely.  I'll give you a prime example:

Whilst I could go out and buy more timber I would really like to see if we can complete the raised beds without adding any more to the profits of our local builders' merchant.  Therefore it's extremely important that we use the wood we've got very carefully.  I had sorted out the 8" x 2" timber for Wednesday and at one point had a long conversation with LP where I asked him to cut Piece A a certain length for the front of the bed, because that would leave us exactly 24" left over which was the size needed for a side.  This took some time because he was determined to cut Piece B, which would have left me with an off-cut too small to be useful.  Eventually he said "OK, right, I get what you mean now" and I put Piece A in front of him.  He turned away to get his saw, picked up Piece B and started to measure where the cut should be.  It took, maybe, 1.5 seconds for him to have abandoned the correct piece and pick up the wrong one.

This did not happen once, it happened pretty much on every single bit of timber, and with every single element that needed measuring ..... believe me, after six or seven hours of micro-managing at this level your brain would be completely fried as well.

So I was very glad that I had enjoyed a few hours alone in the garden on both Monday and Tuesday afternoons, because thanks to imminent-brain-implosion and bloody awful weather, there was to be no more progress 😊

So, what did I get done?  Well, nothing particularly earth shattering, but "real gardening" that feels so good 😊

I moved self-seeded Clary and Foxgloves from the New Garden to the beds behind the patio.

The new mower was christened and I cut the Cottage Garden lawn but the ground is really too wet and soft so I did not try to do any more.   Instead, I had a bit of a blitz on the large bed next to the fruit cage.  Lots of remedial work planned here for later in the year.

All of the lovely campanula my neighbour gave us has been planted out - some in the two narrow beds near the sheds, and the rest in an attempt to make an attractive edging around the Big Pond.  I ran out of time, energy and campanula but it's a start.

I'm feeling a tad despondent about the Big Pond at present. Although we have created ponds in every previous garden I have never had the fun of making one so large, with such a big planting area.  Unfortunately I had no idea just how invasive some of the plants we put in were going to become, and taking my eye off the ball the last couple of years has now come back to bite-me-on-the-bottom.

On the far side of the Big Pond (furthest away from the house) I am going to have to dig out pretty much all of the various grass species which are out of control.  It will be a thoroughly horrible job - these plants are tough, and strong, and very well rooted, and we've got to do it all without damaging the pond liner.

So apart from being grumpy and tired after Wednesday, it really wasn't a bad week, I just wish it would flippin' stop raining.😊

Friday, 17 March 2017

Caravan cushions

It must be at least two weeks ago when, during a particularly wet week with rain every single day at some point or another (and when it did not rain it was pretty cold) I "extracted the digit" and continued to cut up the quilted green piece.  On the Tuesday I created two bolster cushions, Wednesday produced four regular cushions and during a weekend I used nearly every last scrap for three large placemats and four mug mats.

Things stalled a bit after I put a binding on the placemats.  Whilst I loved the contrast of purple and green, WHEN am I going to remember (and learn) that the large supply of Oakshott cotton fabric I have is really not very nice to work with?  Yes it is exceptionally pretty, and yes it has a lovely feel to it, but the stuff is a slippery as a bag of irritated eels and was moving all over the place as I tried to hand-finish the binding.  It was gloriously liberating to cut the whole lot off (only made each mat half an inch smaller) and use a nice stable red print which has behaved beautifully.  Unfortunately it's taken me the best part of a fortnight to find time and energy in the evenings to finish all seven pieces.  But now they are done and look lovely.

Even found time to make Daisy a couple of new house coats.  A metre of fleece and a few inches of Velcro later . . . but Madam was not really in the mood to model this season's daywear 😀😀

Wednesday, 15 March 2017

(nearly) Instant Gardening

This week is turning out much, much nicer than expected.  Whilst the ground is still completely saturated and far too wet to work on, both Monday and yesterday were bright and dry and I have had a few hours outside each afternoon.

Today was an "LP day" and we went for our own version of Ground Force, but without the decking ... Fortunately the supply of materials laying around has not yet dwindled too far and we had all the wood needed; by lunchtime there was a new raised bed next to the shed where a large woodpile stood only a week ago!

After lunch it didn't take too long block up the gap under the shed, fill the bed with soil & home-made compost and plant three more clematis.  Then we started on the hard graft of 'groundwork' which involved much fiddling around to balance out the slope and remove a bit of a stumble hazard.

Right, now I'm going to have a bellyache-and-moan.
Last autumn I agreed to LP coming in for a day when I was away and despite NUMEROUS conversations about where he was (and was not) to put chippings, he managed to put about a ton of rock in two places where he had been expressly told not to.  I knew that chippings would not work at the front and back of the newest shed because they'd get full of bark, sawdust and general muck and six months on I am still hacked off about it.  The idea for today was to put the stone through the Sherpa to get rid of all the muck and re-use it around the new bed, but that did not work too well.  Having not used the machine for a couple of years it wasn't rotating properly, probably needs a new belt, and we were running out of time.

But eventually there will be somewhere level to put a bench so I can collapse at the end of a long stint in the vegetable patch (and until then a broken paving slab works fairly well under one of the legs!)

Tuesday, 14 March 2017

"Cream crackered"

Phew, remind me that three consecutive days with LP is completely, totally and thoroughly exhausting . . .  I meant to write this up on Wednesday and Thursday but there are just not enough hours in the day.

So, where were we .. oh yes, crazy but excellent day on Tuesday where loads of smallish jobs job tackled.  With a definite plan to keep up the momentum on Wednesday and carry on clearing the ground in the New Garden so we can sow grass seed.  This being West Cumbria [which I tempted to rename Wet Cumbria] the weather had other ideas and it rained overnight - hard - making already fairly wet soil completely saturated and it impossible to work.  The only work that LP could get on with was the usual standby Plan B:  log store.  That is a task he relishes and goes at with an energy and zeal normally reserved for folk a couple of decades younger.

I have a small but nonetheless important series of household chores that have to be attended to each morning:
take Daisy out for early bathroom break,
get myself washed, dressed and breakfasted,
lay the woodburner for the evening,
vacuum sitting room thanks to Daisy being the messiest biscuit-cruncher in all of the world,
empty dishwasher,
get something out of the freezer for supper,
make bed,
wipe around bathroom,
walk Daisy 'properly' (in other words be out for at least an hour). 

That started off as a continuous paragraph but when I realised just how much was on this list I thought I'd spread it out for effect 😉  Anyhow, the point is that if I do not get interrupted it doesn't take long to get to the 'walk Daisy properly' stage but everything takes much longer when I have to be around the garden to direct operations, make decisions, and quite often even lend a hand. 

When we started this morning the log pile was higher than the red rope (which is stopping the supporting posts at each end from splaying out ). I went indoors to get on with the morning chores and when I came out an hour later the cut log pile was so large he'd had to stop!

I left LP setting up the log splitter and took Daisy for a lovely walk.  And so the pattern was set for two days.  I did joke that he was working himself out of a job because once the side of the shed is cleared we really don't have much more in the way of 'wet weather work' but he didn't seem too bothered.

Both afternoons I ran the log splitter whilst LP loaded it, and we had a brief deviation to build a "temporary' log store extension out of pallets.

It wasn't all lumberjack work.  Both days were so bright and sunny that the greenhouse vents were opening automatically

and lunch was taken by the pond which meant we saw lots of newts, numerous frogs, and caught the first Great Diving Beetle of the year.

Daisy wandered around enjoying being outside

A quick picture on Thursday morning; equipment set up but no mess yet

The pile is getting smaller!

And at the end of it all: a full log store

A full 'temporary'  log store

The side of the shed is clear and I've got a plan for what to do with the space

Despite being shattered at the end of three very busy days, there was still time to enjoy interesting clouds even if Management and I never did agree on what sort they were.

Tuesday, 7 March 2017

Tuesday: flat out and full on

Looks like the blog has reverted to a tick-list of what happened whilst LP was available ... hey ho, helps me keep track of when things are done.

A non-stop day.  Thankfully we seem to have a break in the weather and whilst fairly chilly at least there was no rain and the occasional breeze is helping dry the soil a little.  LP was in a particularly good mood and champing at the bit to see how much of the endless 'To Do' list could be knocked off this week.

Firstly he filled all the tubs with compost for me.  He forks everything over and breaks up all the big lumps, no mean feat when it is so wet. When I went back later to have a look he had filled 41 large flowerpots!

(I'm sure I meant to take a photo ....??)

He dug up just about all of the pink geranium which has been trying for World Domination in the Lasagne Bed in the Cottage Garden, and then helped me plant it under the hawthorn hedge which borders the pavement.  A few barrows of bark chip later and it all looked extremely smart.

We removed the three remaining obelisks from the side bed, and that meant two clematis had to be relocated.

(definitely in need of a couple of coats of wood stain)

Whilst surveying the (lovely) lack of geranium it became apparent just how peely-wally the roses were . . . LP did not need asking twice and by the time I'd gone inside, made tea and come back out again the roses were no more and he very proudly told me how deeply planted the clematis were!  He claims not to be a gardener but after all these years I think some of my prattling on about plants is getting through.

It was definitely Daisy's day for photo-bombing . . . and by the look of the (lack of) roots these roses weren't going to last much longer.

A couple of days ago I succumbed to some small Campanula plants when in Cockermouth and they look lovely in one of the new beds by the patio.

I should have waited because almost immediately after I planted them a neighbour offered me "surplus" Campanula from her garden.  LP helped dig them  up and we collected six large trays!

Little Miss Photo-Bomb again 😊😊

It only took one of the trays to edge the bed next to the kitchen window so I now need to quickly decide what is going to happen to the rest, lovely problem to have 🙂

Not content with all this activity, for the last hour before he went home LP made a start on clearing the mess which I have allowed the 'New Garden' to become.  Two years ago he had this perfectly prepared for lawn but I had other ideas and was convinced I could manage to grow "wild flowers" on this area.  I was wrong and have concluded that grass will ultimately be much less maintenance and look better for the whole season.

(And with the delivery last week of a lovely new mower, which hasn't even been started up yet, keeping it tidy shouldn't be too hard).  She says, confidently . . .

It might sound as if we worked like crazy all day but there was a considerable amount of time spent standing around watching the ponds.  I've seen a few frogs back in the water since the weekend but today was clearly "Froggy-Went-A-Courting" day - LP counted over 30 in the big pond at lunchtime, and overall we reckon there were at least 70 - 80 frogs spread around the three ponds and every time we went near the water there was a lovely 'frog chorus'.  Bit to windy to try to record it, but if conditions are right tomorrow I will have a go.  Quite a bit of frogspawn was laid today but I think there's much more to come.

They definitely deserve a post of their own as I've taken loads of pictures and this post is already quite long enough 😊