Tuesday, 28 January 2020

Mostly about Mulch

I thought there would be an opportunity to get back into the garden today, but I fear the weather has other ideas.  When I went swimming after breakfast the rain was cold, almost sleety, and the car thought it was only 4 degrees outside.  Although it has brightened a little since I got home the ground and the plants are soaking wet and it has not warmed up at all.  Perhaps a day for sorting garden/blog photos and working on the current quilt top?  I have been slowed down a little by the start of mild sciatica, most likely caused by the stretching I do to reach some areas without standing on the soil too much (and probably looks like a strange solo game of Twister).  Swimming will help as does a fabulous video from Adrienne Mishler.

Despite that, last week was most successful for January in that I managed three sessions outside.  All spent clearing old growth and fallen leaves from the Coppice area and applying a lovely thick layer of mulch.

At present Bag End is a very repetitive blog, because clearing and mulching is all I seem to be doing, so I'll let the pictures show how far I managed to get:

Not just mulch, but some hedge trimming too 🙂

Distorted by the iPhone's 'panorama' setting:

When not gardening there has been more bulk cooking (there is now absolutely NO space in the freezers, what a wonderful position to be in), Robert's funeral, lots of reading in front of the woodburner and a new quilt top.

A very long time ago these units were destined to be ????

Goodness knows what.  They were a set of "Fat 1/8ths" and a couple of "Fat Quarters" all from the Apple N' Bee Orchard range by Carol Endres, packaged up in a cute wooden box.  Unable to resist the eye candy (and the fact that as part of Anne Walker's closing down sale they would have been a huge bargain) this collection has been with me the best part of 20 years . . . but an eighth of a yard is a far-too-small quantity to do much with, and that's probably why they have languished for so long.

But suddenly there was inspiration, and in a relatively short time they became:

As is often the case during construction I told Management "I'll use a thin wadding and it can be a tablecloth in the kitchen" but the poor chap will have to wait a bit longer for a new table cover.  This has turned out far nicer than expected and I don't fancy it having a life catching stray bits of food and coffee splashes . . .

Saturday, 18 January 2020

Not so much derailed as re-routed

It has been a busy week, and generally a very good one in the great scheme of things.  Most of it was been taken up with a day of shopping (yuk) followed by two days intensive cooking.  Blooming tiring but the end result is more than 60 home-cooked meals in the freezer.  We both want to eat properly every day - one of the joys of full retirement is no more getting in so late and exhausted that a bowl of cereal or plate of toast has to suffice - but I have no desire and little intention to spend a couple of hours in the kitchen every evening concocting something lovely from scratch.  With an eye on The Bigger Picture it is definitely worth the time and effort this takes - especially as I do absolutely zero washing up, that is Management's contribution to the proceedings!

There was also a haircut and an unplanned car wash after coming out one morning and finding not a single side of my (white) car had missed the attention of what must have been a very incontinent seagull.

The rain finally stopped long enough for a session in the garden, and yesterday I completed a big section of the Coppice.  On the downsize I hate having to cut away so much of the leaves from my hellebores, but they have blackspot and it does the plant no good.  This winter has been so constantly damp and mild that the spores will be laying on the soil waiting to be splashed back into the newly emerging foliage.  Another reason for applying a thick layer of mulch so that those spores stay buried.

On the upside the yearly application of mulch means that whilst I have been cutting back dead foliage and clearing up fallen leaves, apart from a couple of persistent dock I have not had to remove a single weed!   In a garden this big, so densely planted, that is a Really Big Thing 🤗

(The 'pots' in the ground are bottomless collars which protect small hellebores until they are big enough that the risk of being mulched over or stood on is minimised)

Derailed?   I had planned another Coppice session today but at 9.00am the phone rang - it was the wife of our deceased friend asking if I could go round and I was there a few minutes later.  She needed someone who was not family to have a mug of tea with, and a favour too.  I gave her the "listening to" that she needed and we had a bit of laugh, then I walked to a few nearby houses and delivered details of the funeral.  It was 11.00am before I got home, and the promised sunshine clearly wasn't going to arrive, so I cut my losses and settled on the sofa for some more quilt binding.

I had finished the Irish Chain earlier in the week, the "Bee Kind" Trip Around the World was completely by lunchtime.

From a postural standpoint, sitting down all afternoon and evening to stitch a third binding may not have been the choice of an expert, but I wanted it all finished!  And it is:-

Unless you are a quiltmaker/knitter/creative-anything with a cupboard full of not-yet-completed projects that you do not want to see going to waste you will not understand how gloriously liberating it is to have everything finished.

There was still time to take a moment to enjoy a lovely sunset:

Blog comments:  finally, thanks to Sustainablemum and Jessica I can leave comments on Blogger blogs (Wordpress was never a problem).  The solution was Firefox on my iPad - I am not going to waste any more time wondering why Firefox on the Mac will not work.  Yes I know they run on completely different operating systems, but come on people - cars can drive themselves, satellites circle the entire planet, why not blog cookies which behave consistently on different home computers?

Unanswered comments on my last few blog posts:  thank you all very much,  I'm going to just say "I really appreciate the time you took to leave them" and move on.

Sunday, 12 January 2020

An hour in the Coppice

Just one hour today, I even set an alarm on my phone to ensure I stayed within my self-imposed 60 minute limit and took advantage of a brief clear spell - tomorrow's forecast is atrocious.  I cleared and mulched a small section in the Coppice, maybe no more than two metres but very enjoyable nonetheless.

Let's do this backwards, first the 'after' pictures:

And a much brighter shot of what I achieved during the week:

Looking around the rest of the Coppice, almost everything is either covered in fallen leaves, or last year's decayed foliage, or in the case of the Euphorbia, old flower stems I never cut back.  2019 was not a year where the garden received more than perfunctory attention, I hope I can do better in 2020 because the plants deserve more care.

For those who live with the misguided idea that Bag End is a beautiful garden which always looks immaculate - {{snort of derision}} - do not believe all you see on social media.

Blog comments:  thanks to Jessica and SustainableMum I could fix the problem.  But we have had the stuffing knocked out of us today, and I just do not have the heart to do so right this moment.

On Tuesday afternoon I had tea with a lovely neighbour, mad as a box of frogs but always excellent company - intelligent, articulate, erudite, widely read.  We did not always agree but he was a rare soul with whom you could discuss world events & politics and differences of opinion caused no divide.  One of the bonuses of having an 81 year-old brainiac as a friend.

At 7.00am on Wednesday morning he was off to Carlisle for major surgery - having faced the Sophie's Choice of "50% chance of surviving the operation, 100% chance of dying without it".  He passed away last night without ever regaining consciousness.

We were not an integral part of each others lives, sometimes weeks would pass between debates and discourse, but I cannot quite believe I am never going to talk to him again.

Saturday, 11 January 2020

What could have been a grotty day was a GREAT day

What a grotty night - endless gusting winds which seem to scream around the front of the house and managed to disturb me from the moment I got into bed until I dragged myself out again this morning feeling more tired than when I went to sleep.  There's a bit of loose timber somewhere - either around the compost bins or along the front fence (laurel hedge) - in high wind it slaps against something and makes far too much noise, next time the weather is like this I will have to get up, go outside and try and work out where it is coming from.

The weather forecast for the rest of the day was not much better:

However, I refuse to have a grotty day if I can avoid it, and instead have had a great day at the sewing machine.  It was a bit of a slog, and I was exhausted by the end, but the remaining three big quilts which were "longarmed" over Christmas all now have bindings attached.

My estimate is five hours to hand finish the 'Bee Kind' Trip Around the World, and about the same to do the simple little Irish Chain quilt.  When I went digging for the link to the piecing of this quilt I was horrified - it will be completed just short of SEVEN years after it was started.  Is it any surprise that I want to 'quilt tops as soon as they are pieced' in future'?

The lovely Autumn Trip Around the World has not been nearly as long in the making - a mere 16 months as it was started in September 2018. But it is larger and there's probably 8 hours gentle hand sewing until it is completely finished.   With the weather forecast for the next week I may achieve all three sooner than expected because it really does not look like I will get out in the garden or away in Bill.

The final (of three) table runners is finished.

Friday, 10 January 2020

Week one and the first job is done

The weather forecast continues to miss its accuracy targets but I am still smiling and excitedly going “sqquuueeeeee!!!”  Because it is only the first proper week of the year and I have a fully completed job in the garden under my belt.

The ‘before’ photo, grotty pictures throughout - there has been an occasional bit of brightness, but generally the light has been very dull:

On Wednesday I managed about three hours outside, albeit without the promised sunshine, but in that time succeeded in completely weeding the large bed we created last year at the entrance to the Coppice.  It was covered in bitter cress with a significant contribution from Rose Bay Willowherb.  By the time I was a Grown Up Sensible Girl and decided it was time to stop the soil was clean, dressed with ash from the woodburner, and with Management’s help [tub filling] I had 45 pots of chippings in place ready for the next dry day.  We are finding it so, so much easier to use large pots for moving materials as opposed to the overfull and far-too-heavy trugs that LP insisted on.

Photos from midway - snowdrops are throwing themselves out of the ground at an indecent speed, the hellebore has new growth, and some of the anemone corms are putting on an unseasonal amount of new growth:

A couple of days later and the bed now has a lovely deep mulch of freshly shredded leylandi:

It took 29 pots to cover the bed, and I had a refilling session so there is a good supply in place for next time I get outside.

Conifers are allelopathic so this mulch should suppress weeds even better than deciduous chippings.  I know that means I miss out on self-seeded bonus plants, but I can live with that.

Still unable to log in to the comment side of Blogger, so thank you for the kind words about my table runner post. However, the lovely Jessica at Rusty Duck wrote to me with a fix (similar to SustainableMum's).  Like me, she uses Feedly which integrates nicely with Firefox.  So a 'simple' solution would be to load Firefox on the iPad and go from there . . . I will try and get to that at the weekend, I may not succeed 🙃

The lampshade was unexpected - supermarkets up here are always much smaller than the multi-department aircraft hanger size establishments of more heavily populated areas, which means we see very little of the clothing & housewares items that everyone else gets to chose from.  So it was something of a surprise very early on Sunday morning to find the shades in Morrisons, half price.  There were only four on the shelf - all of which now live at Bag End 😊