Tuesday, 4 August 2015

Octagonal pergola and lazy people

This weather continues to astound me. It's now the height of summer and yet I not only needed to wear a thick fleece when I was mowing the lawn on the ride on but I had to have the hood up and tied tightly to keep it there! I have never known summer to be so naff in the 12 years I've lived here - I understand the North East of Scotland is never going to be tropical but seriously, it feels like Autumn right now.
The garden has taken a serious battering and has been neglected for a while now because I've been getting on with building projects instead - weeds can wait lol.

I decided I wanted to build a gazebo as a walk through where the formal part of the garden meets what will be the new unformal part of the garden (once I've done it) but it couldn't be any old gazebo. Me being me I decided to go for an octagonal one and me being me again decided I could mash it together without plans.
The first few attempts were diabolical - I built the panels in the workshop (and even made a mistake on those that still exists because I'm too lazy to change it) and then formed the structure in situ. The problem is I'm one of those people where if there's a quick way and a right way I'll choose the quick way and every time I do that something goes wrong - as it did here.
I just could not get the angles right and couldn't figure out how to do it. In the end I sucked it up and asked Mr TG what I needed to do to get the angles correct, unfortunately this meant doing the job the long slow way and required me to build a square frame and work measurements out - booooooooring!
I have to admit though that the structure went up much quicker and easier once I had the frame to go by and used scaffold poles to hold things in place instead of attempting to hold everything level and drill at the same time - yes, that it how lazy I am.

 Stage 1 - after several attempts at getting these level upright I had a tantrum, pulled them out the ground (even though I had blisters on my hand from digging holes for the spikes) and threw them on the ground. Yes, I had a paddy!! and there they stayed for a few days.


Stage 2 - Mr TG told me how to get the angles correct and how to keep them level while I worked on the structure.



Most of it's up here. It's not perfect but then neither am I so who cares!!
Do you see the mistake on the panels I mentioned earlier? I must have measured 2 of them from one end when putting the cross sections in and two from the other end because two of them have an extra piece at the top - two don't lol.



The tedious job of painting it. I also weeded the bed to the right and planted Bamboo and a climbing rose. The rose is tied to the vertical wires I added to the side gaps as an afterthought.
The bed to the left is in dire need of weeding but it will have to wait.


Gras mowed makes a huge difference. I also completed the base inside the gazebo. It involved loads of cement and plenty of mess - those bricks and shingle are going nowhere!
The bricks sit just proud of the lawn on this side because the ground is lower here and I used the other side as a reference for height. The bricks are level but I will be adding a small step this side so there'll be no tripping over bricks.



I bought the compass slab a few years ago and have never used it until now. Mr TG set it in concrete for me but I didn't realise until it was done that he has the North pointing the wrong way. I did give him instructions as to where it needed to be - everyone here knows the sea is directly south lol- so the North should have pointed just before where the East currently is. Mr TG did offer to rectify it but tbh I like the quirkiness to it now and it's typical of all my projects - there's always something not quite right lol. I like it!



Friday, 10 July 2015

Weird trees, floods and weed growth

Mr TG and I ususally take our holidays during the winter months with the idea that it would break up the long winters here in Caithness and give us that Vitamin D boost when the daylight levels are so low here. We also figured this Vitamin D boost would set us up for the following spring and keep SAD at bay for us both, I now realise this hasn't been the case - the Vitamin D would always be depleted by the time spring or summer came so I would usually be well on my way to a bout of depression by the time the gardening months rolled around.
Having just spent 2 weeks at a friends place in Los Lobos, Almeria I've decided that this is the best time for holidays - we've returned rejuvinated and ready to tackle what is now an extremely over grown garden and land.

I've also noticed that all the things that would normally have bothered me in the garden and set me on a downward spiral are actually not bothering me at all - novel! Everything suddenly seems doable and what isn't doable right now doesn't matter - its not going anywhere.

Faced with these weeds I would normally run, hide and possibly cry at the thought of the work, it's not bothering me at all though, in fact I saw it and smiled.



Initially I took the shortcut to the polytunnel but was faced with this and had to go the long way round - honestly there's a path in there somewhere and I found the weeds amusing.


I got to the polytunnel and was faced with a river of water both outside and inside. We definitely need to get the drainage sorted this year because this area tends to hold water the longest and it makes the flower beds in the tunnel too soggy to grow anything.
On the upside instead of having to fill a watering can for some plants that had dried out I just put the pots in the water for half an hour.


This is inside the tunnel after I'd swept most out. The left hand bed is fine as it's a good 18" high but the right hand bed is only about 8" high and you can clearly see how wet it is compared to the one on the left.

While out in Spain I was surprised to find a lack of flowers anywhere. I figured anyone living in such a warm climate would have lovely plants growing. Maybe the fact that every day was over 40 degrees makes it too hot to garden so most places were filled with Oleander in flower and Aloe Vera.
There were these wonderfully weird looking trees though - I wonder what they are!


Thursday, 11 June 2015

Polytunnel produce

Still not much doing here in my Caithness garden. The weather has finally decided to give us a glimpse of a possible summer on its way but everything outside is stunted almost in limbo as though it's all deciding "do we, don't we". As it is right now I'm happy for everything to stay a little shy for 2 reasons 1) I wouldn't be surprised if we have snow next week and 2) I go on holiday next week and I don't want to miss all the first blooms.

The polytunnel is a different story completely, I am getting heaps of Strawberries - at least the ones the birds haven't gotten to first - the apple tree is plastered with fruit so I'm waiting for the June drop to see what needs culling after that and the flowers (especially the Roses) are about 6 weeks ahead of those outside.
Tomorrow I will have to begin moving all the plants in pots to an outside sheltered place, I just hope the weather stays kind.

Rose 'Nostalgia' my first one to flower this year, has a lovely sherberty scent.

This tree has heaps of apples this year but it's destined for the garden later on so probably won't produce this well again.     
I almost gave up on Strawberries this year as I never get a decent crop. I put these into some hanging baskets and the crop has been mammoth so far.

No slug damage here! Hens have made a meal of my Hostas, it's prettier than slug damage though and a small price to pay for the fact that they also control marestail.

Even on the sunny days there's always a storm threat over the sea.