Wednesday, 31 March 2010

End of the month

March has definitely been a good month, lots of Green Dot Days as Hazel calls them.

It is so good to finally feel we are creating something, rather than the constant destruction which has been the major feature of the last two years.

Despite the month ending with some foul weather and my having made some changes to the Bag End Buffet, not only are all the usual suspects in regular attendance, but this morning we had the pleasure of a new Red Squirrel who stayed for quite a while.

That make three distinct and separate individuals. One is very dark red, one is quite grey in places and today's newbie has a bright and pale tail tip.

You looking at me?

Whoops, dropped it.

Better go and find another one

(The artefacts on the pictures are snow, nasty wet, cold, heavy stuff. Fortunately it did not last)

Tuesday, 30 March 2010

It's officially Spring

Yesterday I heard the wonderful haunting call of a Curlew overhead - that makes it Spring at Bag End. I used to think they were only found in coastal areas but since moving here have learnt that they move inland to find marshy ground for nesting. This morning whilst out at the Log Store I heard the gorgeous call again and looked up quickly enough to see a large Curlew flying past. No idea if I will manage to photograph one this year - haven't succeeded the last two summers.

Also spotted were a pair of Thrush, but they were not obliging enough to move close enough together to appear in the same shot.

The bulb bed continues to improve day by day. It still doesn't look anything like 700 bulbs, there are some definite gaps where I know I planted daffodils - guess the mice were determined to have their share. As an eternal optimist I shall just look upon these bare patches as the obvious place to start when putting in hardy perennials ...

Monday, 29 March 2010

Monday madness

Despite a long hard day yesterday, and arm muscles which were complaining abut having spent so much time with the chainsaw (I told them they were out-of-practise wimps and to deal with it!), could not resist a couple of hours this morning before the weather changes. Easter is nearly upon us so it's bound to rain soon.

Am not convinced that the asparagus has survived our recent ice age but tipped another couple of barrows of black gold on them just in case. The mice have moved back under the tarpaulin and were not impressed when I disturbed their little 'des. res.".

Decided the bark chips are spread a bit thin in places, add to never-ending-list to chuck a couple more loads onto the paths.

More work achieved on what will be the Yew Hedge. Fixed the bottom edge of windbreak netting, set some larch slab planks just under a metre from the fence to stop newly dug soil slipping down a slope. Compound saw had its first outing and made a great job of 45o cuts on the end of the stakes which were then really easy to hammer in.

I wasn't aiming for perfect, but the end result is a lot more even and straight than the picture would imply, the joy of converging verticals ....

There might have been a start on weeding but commonsense and tiredness prevailed. The fact that the breadmaker had just produced a fresh loaf of malty, seedy loveliness had nothing to do with my packing up for an early lunch!

Restaurant renovation

It would be reasonable to think we love the view from our kitchen window and we do but it also irritates every time we look outside. The silver birch, cotoneaster and rowan left standing along the boundary are all in a dreadful state - years of being squashed between over-sized triffids have taken their toll. The C. cornubia, despite producing a wonderful crop of berries each year, is badly overgrown. Depending upon where you look different nurseries claim this is either an "arching shrub reaching 4 metres" or a "small evergreen tree growing to 6 metres", difficult for the unwary purchaser. We currently have large, arching deciduous tree-like growths of at least 6 metres . . . sigh

If that were not enough, the Bag End buffet has been due for a serious revamp for some time.

We want to plant mixed native hedging along this fence but first there has to be some serious "pruning".

After the regulation "who said Sunday was a day of rest" six hours or so things looked a lot neater, albeit very bare and stark. The jury is out as to whether those cotoneaster stumps will be allowed to regenerate or be removed completely - they don't really belong in a mixed native hedge and we have others. All I did to the squirrels' favourite tree was cut out a couple of small dead branches. As an apology, two new hazelnut feeders have been installed.

I only needed Management's assistance for a couple of cuts on the tallest bits of the small rowan at the back. It was very satisfying to safely bring down some huge bits of cotoneaster on my own. Why then, does the pole pruner look like this?

After felling some large, heavy, thick limbs successfully I only had a couple more cotoneaster branches to deal with, neither of which were particularly thick. The penultimate one decided to get its own back, unexpectedly swung around about 270 degrees and the choice was dropping the pole pruner and me getting smacked in the head or hanging on to the pruner and using it as a shield. I won, the machinery lost, and the bend in the extension arm shows how much power is in a branch that's less than 3" in diameter. Fortunately it can be repaired reasonably easily which doesn't stop me being extremely irritated with myself, it's the most expensive tool we have bought so far for the garden.

I don't seem to have upset the regulars as much as I feared, some of the birds were back for tea before I'd even finished clearing up and the female pheasant is getting silly and just doesn't move unless I am almost within touching distance.

Sunday, 28 March 2010

Will I ever tire of this?

First picture is not one of the best, but if you look closely there are two Reds chasing each other around the tree, "it's a Spring thing!"

This Rowan tree badly needs some serious tree surgery and crown reduction but until I can work out how to do it without messing up some of the squirrels' favourite branches, it will have to wait.

Saturday, 27 March 2010


No gardening this week, had a lovely visit from a much loved friend who travelled all the way from Hampshire. When we weren't talking our heads off or laughing, there was much viewing of the endless procession of visitors to the Bag End Buffet.

Some visitors are more welcome than others, but they're all part of the extensive food chain.

Monday, 22 March 2010


If it never rained, you wouldn't ever see something this beautiful


No proper gardening this weekend, it was either too cold, too windy or we were doing something else.

In a brief moment of relative calm I fixed up more of the windbreak netting alongside the potager. It was as cheap to buy a 50m roll as to just purchase the 30m I needed for the front fence, not difficult to find other uses for the remainder.

Management hauled the conifer stump out of the way, noting that it was ruddy heavy and expressing surprise that I'd managed to move it as far as I had.

Much wind and rain overnight, horrible morning; in typical Cumbrian fashion it suddenly cleared after lunch and I was able to go and check on the bulb bed ...

It won't be long before this looks rather lovely.

Saturday, 20 March 2010

Spring Equinox

Day and night are of equal length, a time for leaving Winter behind, for moving forward. Traditionally a festival for the celebration of new life, growth, rebirth

A surprise phone call at breakfast time today asking if we might consider giving a home to a new four-legs. The boy in question is not for us but it was the catalyst for acknowledging something terribly important.

Ollie Boy will always be the dearest Hairy Chap who ever traipsed mud across my newly cleaned carpets and left indelible paw-prints on my heart, but we are ready to start looking for someone else (or two someone elses) to make our family complete again.

It may be a long search, but that's OK. This is important, it will take as long as it takes to get right.

Friday, 19 March 2010

Bit of a result!



Ugly little s*d, isn't it?

In the two hours in between there was a mattock, splitting maul, large steel wrecking bar and a very determined Hobbit. Any conifer stump that size which thinks it is going to get the better of me is in line for a big disappointment. My only disappointment was that the ruddy stump is so heavy I could barely get it out of the crater I'd excavated and certainly couldn't move it further than the edge of the hole!

Prior to that notable success, I fixed the wind-break netting to our new fence. It doesn't obscure the view into the garden as much as I would like but it is a distinct improvement on the previous goldfish bowl.

I'm trying really hard not to think about how much work is involved in clearing the land either side of it. . . .

Yesterday's storm had blown itself out and today was surprisingly warm, although still a little breezy.

It won't be long before this first daffodil is fully in flower and whilst we might not have golden daffodils beside a lake or beneath the trees, I think by next week there will definitely be a few fluttering and dancing in the breeze.

Just for good measure, removed a gate and small part of the fence before I finished. They are both going to be re-installed, but in a different place. We had the fence put up in a hurry shortly after we moved in. Making the garden secure so that Mr Hairy could not get onto the road was the priority but now we've come up with a better location for it. Moving the fence nearer the driveway will enclose the land by what used to be the front door and give us more privacy when we use the little patio area near the potager.

Thursday, 18 March 2010

Lucky Escape

Hazel said "hope you have a green dot day", bless her, and I did but not quite the one I wanted.

High winds last night and broken sleep, it has been calm for so long I'd forgotten how noisy it gets when the wind is up. Pulled back the curtains at 6.30am to enjoy sunrise, we are at the lovely turning point in the year when the days and nights are of roughly equal length. Any plans to go back to bed and snooze for an hour destroyed when I see that the greenhouse is not where Management and I left it ...

Fortunately the frame was only pushed along the base rather than off it so twisting was at a minimum. Amazing how fast I can get into gardening clothes and outside. Thankfully I was able to get the frame back into position by myself - moving it an inch at a time first one side, then the next. Temporary fix with all the clamps I could lay my hands on.

Not surprisingly, a very large part of the day was taken up with bolting the frame to the base, a job that Management had scheduled for Saturday. This involved discovering our 'big' drill refused to work (changing the fuse had no effect) and having to use a large, powerful, wonderful and expensive SDS drill on loan from a damn good friend. Whilst it is definitely the 'tool for the job', there was much trepidation in case I b*ggered it up ...

Drilling accurate holes in 5" steel box section is not something I would normally tackle. Think a very nervous Hermione going up to the Sorting Hat in the first HP film. Much muttering under breath of "it's OK, you can do this"

The numbers mean when I took the picture the wind was 19.7mph but during the time the anenometer had been in place (30 minutes) the top speed recorded was 28mph. Clever little bit of kit.