Wednesday, 20 February 2019


Well folks, there's no easy way to do this.   Little Miss Perfect and I went to the vet today, it was time for her six monthly 'old dog checkup' with Uncle John.

She has a large abdominal mass, John could feel it and all of a sudden, lots of small things make sense - eating grass, straining to poo, losing weight after Christmas, just being "off".  I don't want to sound callous but I was not surprised when I saw the look on John's face as he realised what it was he had to tell me.

We think she is in some discomfort, but not serious pain; we are immediately increasing her daily dose of Loxicom.  Until Friday morning, when we have a scan done, we know nothing else and cannot begin to consider the best treatment plan for her.  We don't know exactly what this is, whether there are metastatic growths or if we have something slow.

What we do know, is that if there is any way to spoil our Darling Girl more than we already do, then that's what we'll be doing.

April 2017 - a happy girl enjoying the garden.  Definitely worth 'click to enlarge'  ☺️

Tuesday, 19 February 2019

A nice sort of tired

It rained Sunday night, therefore on Monday morning the soil behind the Top Pond wasn't really up to being walked on.  Without the tractor until our tyre was repaired I wanted to do something which did not require lugging buckets of bark chip up a 1 - in - 12 slope that gets steeper every time you push a wheelbarrow round it.  Sensible people would have gone in the greenhouse, I am not sensible ðŸ¤—

Did a couple of hours chopping back the evil hawthorn hedge at the front, and despite appropriate armour / protective clothing, it will be a week before my hands have recovered from multiple stabbings.  Got rained off, so that was the end of Monday.

Today was a surprise - forecast to rain but when I got back from an early appointment in town the weather seemed quiet, so I decided to carry on mulching the hawthorn hedge.  Many buckets later, and a bit of help from Management at the end, it was finished, all 35 metres of it.

The "small heap" in front of the caravan is all used up and we made a start on the really big heap.

Plus all the buckets are full for the next time.

Management has put the new tyre on my tractor, he now needs to work out whether he can tighten the drive belt or we need a new one.  It's loose and I am close to panic because without the Little Red Tractor to move things around I am completely stuffed . . .

I won't pretend I am not physically very tired at the end of these sessions, but as Marlene commented, "it's a nice tired".  And unlike the soul-sucking exhaustion of a stressful office, this is a tiredness that has pretty much gone after a soak in the bath and a good night's sleep.  Fortunate that, seeing as I'm only half way round the garden!

Sunday, 17 February 2019

A little more than expected

At bedtime yesterday it was quite possible that I'd have another day off today . . .

But I slept well, woke early, and felt like getting on with it, so was out spreading bark chip over the bulb bed before 8.30 this morning, which is very, very early for me!

Cleaned up the little bed opposite, mulched that too, taking care to avoid all those lovely plump Peony buds.  It feels like Spring is early this year - we had a mild winter and once January departed the temperatures have risen and there's even been sunshine and occasional warmth.

We got the tubs filled and in position for tomorrow's session, deciding to come in at lunchtime before it started raining.  Good move, because on the last run my tractor got a big puncture.  Eeek, without Little Red Tractor, moving bark chip doesn't really bear thinking about.  The tyre is in the boot of M's car and he will take it down to Goodfellows first thing tomorrow.

Of course, because we packed up just before the forecast bad weather arrived, after lunch we had bright sunshine and not too much breeze.  I only went back out to do a little weeding on the bed behind the Top Pond (honest), but things went rather well and I finished half of it.

The Gunnera is already showing new season's growth:

and these gorgeous but strange looking things are the emerging buds of Primula denticulata

At risk of sounding like a broken record, I'm having daily "pinch me" moments.  To be getting this much done, this early in the season, is a joy and completely unexpected.  Also a very tiring joy, but nothing a good soak in the bath with Epsom Salts cannot fix😀😀

Saturday, 16 February 2019

Day off

This is Simon's idea of "a little half load from our final clearing up".  The boy is quite, barking mad.

But then, given the total of what is currently on the drive which has to be shifted - neatly - around the rest of the garden, my own sanity is probably in question too.

But none of it moved today.
The jury is still out on whether any of it moves tomorrow.

Friday, 15 February 2019

Slogging on

Not a very interesting day, but a productive one.  A long-overdue prune of the front of a laurel hedge this morning, need to take a few feet off the height too, but that can wait.

I don't seem to have taken many photos today, but the laurel now has a really, really thick mulch, and whilst I was doing that Management was removing the old windbreak netting behind the hedge.  It has been there since January 2013, and it was time it came down.

Before I could make much progress on moving yesterday's bark chip Simon arrived with another load, bless him (I think).

The now compulsory photo of a disembodied leg being unloaded along with the chippings:

If you think this is a lot, there's now even more  . . . at 4.00pm he arrived with "just a little half load from our final clearing up".  Holy heck, if this is what he thinks is little - I will take a picture tomorrow.  We are both slightly relieved he will not be supplying any more until next Friday at the earliest because it's going to take me the best part of the coming week to shift what we've got.

We decided to leave the pond for today; our 'excuse' was that the water was still muddy from yesterday and I wanted to be able to see the bottom of the pond - in truth I was just not in the mood to get freezing cold and probably wet.

Thursday, 14 February 2019

More of the same, and a new kind of madness

More of the same:

Today I reckon we shifted half of yesterday's small delivery.  It was lovely - the pile included some conifer so the chippings smelled great and with no rain it was really light and fluffy, very easy to move.  The long bed in the side garden is now finished, and we've a full set of tubs ready for the next session.

This is incredibly satisfying and I'm having a lot of fun (in a strange and exhausting way) but I won't pretend it is easy.  I am tired, my back hurts, Management's back hurts, there are simply not enough hours in the day to fit everything in, and there is an awful lot more garden to get round.  BUT, being able to mulch like this is an absolute gift.  It is not only the garden / soil / plants / hundreds of mini beasts who live here who will benefit.  I will benefit for the rest of the season, and through into next year too - watering and weeding should be significantly reduced, and therefore my workload.  Good grief - I might actually get to sit in the garden and enjoy it if we have another nice summer!

A new kind of madness:

Last year it was obvious that the massive waterlily in our Top Pond had outgrown its space and needed moving.  This year, with such a mild winter and Spring now seeming to be heading our way at a great pace, if we don't get the plant moved now it will soon be too late.  New leaves are already appearing out of the rhizome and whilst tidying the Coppice I've seen a couple of frogs.  Disturbance to the ponds needs to happen right now, or it we'll be getting in the way of the very creatures for whom we've created the habitat.

First step - how deep is the rhizome currently?

Second step - clear less important plants from the shallow end of the Big Pond.

At this time of year the water temperature below the surface is about 7 degrees.  In the middle of summer it only takes half an hour of standing in a metre of cold water to get hypothermic - in February getting very, very cold was pretty much guaranteed.  My normal slender silhouette {ha ha} was bulked out with multiple layers of thermals and the mad but effective addition of a hot water bottle in a small backpack.  Don't laugh - it actually helped hugely and I managed a good half hour in the water before a glove sprung a leak.  It was a freezing cold hand that got me out of the pond, and whilst the "cold shakes" did set in afterwards, it was nowhere near as bad as it could have been.

A large pile of oxygenator and other rampant growth which I cannot remember the name of found its way to a wire rack on the edge of the pond.  Whatever is living in the sludge has a chance to get back into the water before we move the debris to the compost heap.

Darling Girl came out for a little while and sat in the sun with us, I love the look on Daisy's face - clearly she thinks I am nuts too:

Fortunately we were just about ready to stop when an unexpected visitor arrived.   Once again, a truck with a pair of phantom legs found its way onto our drive.

This was another massive load:

Clearly the hydraulic lift works fine:

Simon's client today, from a village across the valley, did not want the "bark chip" (which is how the brash, small branches and general debris from tree surgery seems to be referred to) because "it was not big bits of bark and it was the wrong colour"!   Unkind comments were made - not by me I hasten to add - as to what it was going to cost this chap to collect a similar quantity of "big bits which are dark brown" in 50 litre bags from B&Q.   Later, I went online to see just how much bags of "bark" cost, Holy Heck . . .