Monday, 13 February 2017

It takes as long as it takes . . .

In Spain it is maΓ±ana, in the West Country it's dreckley but here . . . ah well, West Cumbria works to its own unique timetable which sometimes means so-bloomin-quickly-that-you-cannot-quite-believe-it and sometimes means much, much longer.

Wayne and Keith were last here working on the patio on 23rd September 2016 - and they know perfectly well that the job is not finished which is why I have still not been invoiced for two days labour and materials.  At least the rubbish has finally gone though!

It would have be nice to get rid of the builders' bag but that's half full of sand Wayne needs to complete the patio.

Sunday, 12 February 2017

A few "wins"

In a garden the size of Bag End it's very easy to get disheartened (and sometimes thoroughly fed up) when the weather thwarts my plans or I just don't have the energy/strength/enthusiasm to get work done.  Thankfully this state of affairs doesn't usually last too long and I get a week like this one where much is accomplished and the nagging fear in the back of my mind that the garden is too large for me to manage is swiftly kicked into touch!

I've already written about Simon's visits on Tuesday and Wednesday which resulted in a generous quantity of bark chip and some tree work.

Whilst Management was in London on Monday I finally lost my patience with the unfinished patio area outside our front door.  It's not perfect and definitely not up to the standards which LP or Alan can achieve with carpentry, but I cut some left-over trellis to size and fitted it between the house and the arch, installed the gate, and fitted trellis the other side of that.  And for good measure, I lined the finished raised bed with damp-proof membrane ready for Management or LP to fill with soil.

On Thursday I cleared up about half of  the leaves which had blown off the bulb bed and then had a frustration-induced conniption fit about the rest. 😭   A long walk with Daisy improved my mood somewhat, but not nearly as much as returning home and finding Management outside clearing up the rest, bless his little heart πŸ’š.    He then helped me move bark chip and we covered the whole bulb bed filling in where the leaves were missing, and (hopefully) anchoring down those which remained.   It all looks a bit "yellow" and weird at present but a couple of days of rain will tone it all down.

Suitably encouraged I had a session on Friday which saw the heather/topiary bed next to the Big Pond weeded, fed with seaweed and the box edging mulched with homemade compost.  I finished the whole lot off with more bark chip and theoretically, that's all the attention this bed should need for the rest of the year, apart from starting to shape the yews which are destined to be topiary.

By the weekend the weather was on the turn so most of Saturday was spent indoors, but Sunday gave an opportunity for a couple of hours on the Top Pond bed removing most of the blue hardy geranium (which is lovely but too tall) and relocating it to the curved bed next to the pavement.

and as a 'bonus', underneath an old roof tile, I found where the mice have been having their lunch.

There was also some nicely-protected-from-the-wind tidying up in the greenhouse, but that will get a post all of its own in due course.

Wednesday, 8 February 2017

Tree stuff

A good couple of days.  Yesterday afternoon Simon arrived with a full trailer, the contents of which needed getting rid of and I was the lucky winner.  A very generous quantity of freshly chipped birch which was the waste from whatever tree surgery job he was doing nearby.

He was back again at lunchtime today to tidy up a couple of our larger silver birch trees.

It didn't take long, and there was more chipped bark as an end of job bonus  πŸ˜€

All I had to do today was stand around agreeing (or disagreeing) which tree limb got cut and where, but my hard work starts tomorrow - all the bark has to be moved but before that I have the miserable job of relocating many of the leaves with which I'd mulched the bulb bed.  Those I put down last week stayed put, but the ones which were spread at the end of January were "relocated" during the very high winds and have decided they are happier making a mess of the paths and the vegetable area πŸ˜’

Tuesday, 7 February 2017


Daisy and I would like to say how much we like the state of the roads at present, but we won't because that would be fibbing.



Sunday, 5 February 2017

Baby steps

It's been baby steps in the garden this week.  Finally got to the Bulb Box of Shame and found that most of the Rannunculus bulbs were going a bit mouldy . . . so I put them on the ground anyway and covered them with two inches of compost and a layer of leaves.  They will either grow or not, and the mulch was going down anyway.

and it looks like I forgot to take any photographs so here's a couple of the view insteadπŸ˜€πŸ˜€

It is lovely to finally have something finished and the bulb bed can just "do it's own thing" until I am ready to move the Lonicera nitidia from the New Garden and use it as a 'pretend box' border along the back.

I had another session outside on Thursday and in just 1½ hours managed to trim the bottom of the hawthorn hedge which runs around our front boundary on the other side of the gates to the willow fedge/daffodil bed.  The picture doesn't do the bed justice, it really does look quite smart now :)

There's a plan behind all this - if I move all the hardy gerenium from the Lasagne Bed where it is trying to takeover the entire universe and replant it here I'll have (nearly) weedproof groundcover and lovely pink flowers twice a year.  Unfortunately Plan has always been a Four-Letter-Word at Bag End, but I'm trying to reverse that trend, wish me luck 😊

Friday, 3 February 2017


The winter salads experiment has been a huge success, must write about it properly soon.  But for now (or rather, for my supper tonight) spinach, lamb's lettuce, romaine and parsley.

Thursday, 2 February 2017

A tad on the breezy side

It is blowing an absolute hooley outside, the woodburner is roaring through logs even though I have it shut right down, and anything not well secured in the garden is going to be in a completely different place by morning.

Darling Girl and I have just been for a 'toilet break' up on the green where she was nearly blown off her feet.  Needless to say, Her Ladyship is now back in front of the fire, unimpressed.

Sunday, 29 January 2017

That was fun

Last summer/autumn we deliberately did not spend time refilling the log store, it's been a couple of years since we saw the back of it and decided to wait until at least one side was empty.  Well, that time had come and fortunately Sunday was dry and bright enough for Management and I to get outside and have a brilliant session with the log splitter.

Despite having the biggest wood pile imaginable opposite the greenhouse we decided to tackle to smaller pile which LP built next to the shed.  There's a long-term plan to relocate my cold frames so they are in a sunnier location, and to achieve this we need to shift a lot of timber . . .

We started uncovering the pile at 10.50, deciding to focus only on the large discs which did not require further chainsawing

and by 1.30 we were cleared up.  No accidents, no mishaps and a decent quantity of logs.  When LP is back, which should be in a couple of weeks, he can help with chainsawing the rest of the stack which he thoroughly enjoys.

It's childish (and slightly dangerous if you are daft enough to stand in the wrong place) but the best bit of splitting logs is when you have a really dry lump of wood without cross-grain that breaks cleanly and quickly, almost explosively πŸ˜€ .


Management is really good at working out what orientation to position each lump of wood to give the splitter the best chance of succeeding.  I just drive the two 'on' switches.

Saturday, 28 January 2017

Three fabulous days

Wonderful weather this week:  crisp, cold, blue sky = perfect gardening conditions.  With Management in London Daisy and I were able to gently potter about to no particular schedule and I managed good sessions in the garden on Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday.

Tuesday's accomplishment was to tidy up the Coppice which is always the first part of the garden to spring into action each year.  I've never previously subscribed to the 'cutting hellebores back' way of doing things but there were so many old leaves with black spot that I decided to be brutal and take out everything in an attempt to stop the spores spreading.

The Mahonia bushes are flowering nicely, snowdrops are popping up all over the place but the winter aconite are a disappointment - I know I had loads but there are only two small plants in flower at present.  Perhaps the damn mice have had the corms?

Tuesday ended with a bit of a drama when a United Utilities worker got a bit closer to a manhole on the green than he intended.  Fortunately he got away with just serious bruising and as a result this has focussed the company's attention on a water leak that has been seeping away for years and years, but that they have always failed to properly respond to.

On Wednesday I focussed on the bulb bed (which used to house the large willow fedge).  LP took the willow out at the end of November and despite the best of intentions I hadn't got back to that area to tidy it up and add some more bulbs.  January is at least three months later than recommended to be planting Camassia but hey - they've got more of a chance in the ground than in a bag in the shed.

When we weren't playing "kill the rugby ball", Little Miss Perfect sat around providing moral support, until she got bored and wandered inside 😊

I've got even more unplanted bulbs destined for the front section (yes, bad gardener . . . ) and then I can cover the rest of it with some of the lovely leaves we collected last autumn.

After unavoidable grocery shopping on Friday I had a couple of brief sessions at the front of the house.   I've completely weeded the large raised bed and plan to fill it with various primulas which have been squatting in one of the vegetable beds waiting for me to get round to moving them (bad gardener again . . . )

Still not sure what to do with this little bed

An extra half hour of sunshine and I would have completed weeding the large fruit cage but once the sun went down it was far too cold to stay outside with any degree of enjoyment.

At risk of sounding all airy-fairy and woo-hoo, the hours I've spent in the garden this week have been a joyful gift.  I have felt I was exactly where I am meant to be, doing exactly what I am meant to be doing.
It's been bliss πŸ˜ƒ

Friday, 27 January 2017

Happy puppy

There's only a minute of very wobbly video; usually when we play this game it tends to last about ten minutes until Madam is so puffed out she stops bringing the ball back.    I try to avoid kicking it into the hornbeam hedge but don't always succeed - sometimes I manage to get it in the pond:  ooops.

A clear, bright day, birdsong and sunshine, and a very happy Daisy playing her favourite game of rugby 😊😊


Tuesday, 24 January 2017

Random and extremes . . .

I made the lovely Kate wince yesterday when she read about my plans to cut up a perfectly good quilt top which I had just spent several hours piecing.  When I went looking for a previous example of this heinous behaviour towards perfectly good fabric I realised that I had never boasted about shared the last time I did this.  So here goes:

I think I may have sewn this top together in or around October 2014:

It put in another appearance in December 2014 - still unquilted, which is not really a surprise!

It looks (from the horrible photo backlog of last year) that I quilted it around Valentines Day during the cleaning up frenzy prior to our farewell party for Danny.

I must have really got a "hurry up" on after that because a week later there was a tiny peek of finished cushion covers

So, nearly a year later (ooops) here they are in all their (squashed and licked by the dog) glory.


I still use them every day and absolutely love them;  they have been so successful that this is why I'm quite looking forward to cutting up the big green piece to do it all over again πŸ˜‰   It would be good if it doesn't take quite so long this time . . .