Monday 3 October 2016

Tempus Fugit

It's been 6 months! 6 months since I posted anything here! Though to be honest I thought it had been much longer.
Back in April I came to the decision to no longer blog, I wasn't enjoying it anymore and I felt that I had nothing interesting to add or that others would want to read about. Over the course of the last year or so I felt like this blog had become a place of negativity for me and all I seemed to post about was how I had fallen out of love with gardening, it had become a chore and I was literally dreading doing something that I once loved so much.
So what's changed? Why come back? (thankfully I refrained from deleting anything).
Well the answer to that is Me! I've changed! Or rather my thought process has changed. It took a while though, I started out the year full of hope and plans after doing very little last year and all went well to start with. Then as things began to bloom in the garden it all got on top of me again and I couldn't juggle the garden with all the other things I had to do so to cut a long story very short I was doing a bit of everything but finishing and achieving nothing.
In the end it broke, or at least I did. I had to admit and truly believe that I can no longer do all the things I expected of me (no one else put me under that pressure except me) and that I had 2 choices - I could either continue in this awful cycle of self loathing because I couldn't achieve anything or I could prioritise and focus on one job at a time. I chose to focus but this is hard for me because my mind wanders, I have very little concentration now, pain is a daily fight and narcoleptic sleep naps pretty much dictate my daily life. On top of that I have had to hand the reins over to Mr TG, I can tell him what I want and where I want it but all heavy labour intensive work has sadly fallen to his shoulders.
It's just a new style of gardening for me.

Not much has improved in the garden this year but plans are afoot for next year and I've finally agreed that we need to make the garden low maintainence - a large portion is to be decked next year and another large portion is to then be gravelled with lots of planting in the gravel. The one thing we never do is sit out and really enjoy the garden because it never quite looks finished or inviting enough, this is something we have to change.

The pond had a leak this year. I didn't notice until Mr TG dug a hole for a Lilac tree and the hole filled in with water immediately. At first we thought it was just due to the rainfall and the ground being so wet but then we noticed the sleepers were wet and when Mr TG shone a torch through one (it was hollow) he could see water dripping constantly. I knew where the leak would be because I caused it and forgot to mention it when it happened. I'd basically tried to stab some ice with a garden hand fork and hit the liner instead.........3 times.
Luckily we found a product online that would seal the holes without needing to empty the pond. I was dubious that it work but it has.

Say hello to my little friend.

There's been a serious lack of Butterflies this year here.

 This is my favourite view and is every single year. We haven't made much use of the chairs I made yet - I did try sitting out one evening but I ended up wrapped like a mummy in a blanket because of the midges, thousands of them!

This both amazed and scared me. We have lots of Gorse hedge here and this particular morning it all looked like this. While I was amazed to see all the webs that we don't normally see the amount of them literally terrifies me.

Saturday 16 April 2016

Sleeper raised beds

I don't normally resort to writing lists of jobs to be done but we have so much that needs doing outside that I've had to list them all so that we can prioritise - often it seems that the one job we want to do cannot be done before another is completed to clear the way.

Filling these new raised beds is a case in point. The raised parts are finally finished mostly (the temporary ends need something more permanent) and so they needed filling. Some of it was filled months ago but then it got left as I pondered on all the other jobs that were piling up - a mistake I promised myself we wouldn't make this year.
I have to say there is great satisfaction in finally seeing the raised beds completed and filled with lovely top soil and compost.  We bought the topsoil in last year (or the year before, I forget) but the compost is all free of charge.

Mr TG collected several Hippo bags filled with all the plant material and spent compost from a local department store. Usually they would pay a firm to come in and haul away the bags but I was asked by an employee as to whether they were any good to me. So late last year hubby collected the bags on his trailer and bought them home - with a police escort as it turned out he was littering the entire 15 miles home, oops! I then covered the tops of the bags to allow the contents to rot down over the winter.

These bags contain a huge amount of material and it was pleasant to see that the contents had actually managed to rot down  over winter despite the cold, I was concerned that they wouldn't heat up enough to do so.

We have used this type of compost once before and I had forgotten just how back breaking the work is. Ordinarily I think a person could do this and not suffer any pain but for some reason 5 minutes of this and my back feels like it is broken and I have to rest.
There is a system to this stuff though. I cannot empty it directly onto the beds because the contents not only contain the rotted plant material and spent compost but ID labels get chucked in, sticks go in, cane toppers go in, plant rings are in there and even the odd pot has been thrown in.
This is the current sytem:
  • 3 to 4 shovel fulls go into the barrow. This then has to be hand sifted to remove all the plants that haven't rotted which go straight into the trailer, all the non degradeable stuff goes into a bucket for disposal and all the small weeds etc go into another bucket which again then goes into the trailer. Once the trailer is full I hook it up to the quadbike and it is then driven down the land where the plant material can be shovelled out to rot down.
It's the being bent over the barrow that actually cause the back pain.

This is what a full barrow looks like and each Hippo bag gets us at least 5 of these.

This is one part of the filled raised bed. It's approx 2ft in height so has used alot of top soil and compost.
Excuse the boarding to the left, this is going to be removed as Mr TG builds a wall there to protect the garden from the northerly winds that funnel down here. This means though that the plants I put in the raised bed will all be facing south and in full sun all day - insert smiley face.
These raised beds are to house shrubs to form another windbreak until the wall is built but also to add height and enclose the open garden a little.
I'm not 100% certain of the plant combination but I have alot of Hebe,large hardy Fuschia, Viburnums and Hydranges - this is a large area to fill and will frame the new patio we are going to lay.
Just in front of the raised beds we are adding another line of sleepers to create another smaller raised bed so that we can plant Day Lillies, Crocosmia and Iris.
The back larger raised beds will also contain honeysuckle and climbing roses to mask the aviary which is out of shot of the picture.

Monday 28 March 2016

It's time to weed!

I've finally started what I put off for the whole of last year - weeding!
Last year I convinced myself that it would do me good to walk away from any gardening for a year because the tediousness of it was starting to make me not enjoy being out there anymore. A few years ago this would have been unheard of, I had less garden to tend and it was so easy to keep it looking immaculate but then over the years I've added another garden, a veg area and a polytunnel area and trying to maintain it all myself was just taking its toll. After spending another year just trying to keep on top of it while also mowing acres, looking after animals, keeping a house and accounting, I decided I was either going to a) completely gravel/pave/deck everywhere and just have pots b) dismantle the poytunnel and veg area and just let the weeds take over or c) simply take a break from it all and just see what happens.
I chose C - thankfully.

The weeds are awful - to be expected, but awful. I get alot of couch grass with runners that run like tentacles everywhere and the dreaded creeping buttercup. I don't mind any weed except creeping ruddy buttercup.

When I first looked at this trowel in hand I almost walked away.






Only now can I see that I can actually cram alot of new plants out here, which is a good thing really as I have approximately 400 in my polytunnel that are now getting quite depserate for a life outside their pot.

This though made me smile with happiness when I saw it. I have a Cordyline growing that is self seeded and has done so well until a couple of winters ago when a wishing well fell on it and snapped it right at the base. I managed to stand it upright and bashed a scaffold pole into the ground to tie it to. Then I mulched it with thick straw round the base and covered the straw with slate to keep it in place. The Cordyline appears to have survived which is amazing but now it has babies - twins no less. I thought the green leaves were from a flag iris that runs rampant in this bed but nope - they're definitely coming from the Cordyline stem.

I've been keeping an eager eye out for signs of my Peonies survivng the winter in the ground and sure enough 'Sarah Bernhadt' appears to be waking up.

I'm not sure what's going on with this pot grown Camellia in the polytunnel though. It has flowered a couple of times but nothing last year and nothing this year. It's in ericaceous compost that is topped up each year and I keep the watering right but it just doesn't seem to be thriving.