Friday, 28 January 2011


There was a slight frost again last night.
It leaves strange patterns in the garden as on this stone and it lends a special beauty in the early morning.

This afternoon has been R weeding and me not keeping up with the horse manure. I keep getting side tracked.

The plan has been to take a wheelbarrow of chippings down to improve the paths by the veg beds and then return with a barrow of old manure.

Then I see that the Tutsan, though alive is very unsightly and would benefit from a prune. Other things in the garden are emerging - daffodils coming up, amd the snowdrops are well out on the banking and under the great sycamore.

Back to today - I was shifting manure but the stream by the Wendy House is clogged - mud slinging coming - and the sides need reinforcing with old scaffolding planks. I promised to widen the gravel path in from of the Wendy House Door.
Well all done - but so much more to be done and trying to get it done before I get the dreaded summons to the hospital.

I have come by my son's unused bird pole and feeders but where to put them? They need a bush by them and some cover as well as somewhere for them to queue.

Dilemmas, dilemmas - they never stop.
Well they do . . . . in the end.

Monday, 24 January 2011


Still frosts as in this image after a freezing fog but as you can see the laying of the hedge has opened up vistas we did not have before.

The odd crocus, a primrose flower, winter shrubs and snowdrops are all stirring.
The birds are beginning to sing - when not drowned out by the squabbling rooks next door.

Yesterday dug out some of the stream bank and moved manure to the bed by the front door after planting a load of free Allium christophii that came with an order. I pruned the shrub roses a little (and demolished the sleeve on an old shirt on the thorns).

The fireproof bonfire has been excavated - I have made a tunnel into its centre to take paper, cardboard and so on.
It looks small in this photo but is actually 12 feet tall so you can see how wide it is.

As I dug out the horse manure I noticed a few nasty bootlaces in it - almost certainly old Honey Fungus - I have removed as much as I can but as the stuff is always everywhere I hope it does not infect anything else.

Today will go down to The Wendy House and dig a small drain, remove some turf and extend the path a bit.

So much to do and so little desire to do it!

Gin and tonic - ?

Thursday, 20 January 2011


Woke up expecting fog and was greeted by a sunny, if chilly day.
No excuses - get in the garden

It seemed only a few days ago The Nook looked like this -

So finally let's have a go at lighting the bonfire - lots of paper and cardboard in the holes in the base, sprinkle with some white spirit I found and - phut! Quick flare up then out. Perhaps needs a few gallons of petrol but that might blow the whole bonfire (and me) to bits!
Wood too green, too cold, too wet or just bloody minded as we have cut it out of the hedge - well the men I employed did.

So I shifted manure and R collected the sticks fallen in the winter.

Then we saw the first snow drops and as we went around we saw buds coming on the quince and the flowering currant, Daffs. and crocusses (or croci?) pushing through. Actually we are woken every morning by crow cusses in the wood! Except they are rooks.

Every year I divide the snowdrops and spread them - they are ridiculously expensive in the catalogues.

After shifting yet more large logs I discovered the yellow raspberries I had dug up and reburied in the farthest corner of the garden amongst the long grass and brambles. So I pruned them so we might get the odd one (or more) in the autumn.

So the day was only partially Phut! The problem is that if the bonfire does not burn soon the birds will nest in it. Then I will have to leave it and time the fire between the birds fledging and the hedgehogs snoring.

Wednesday, 19 January 2011


The electricity was off for most of the day so R went into the garden and weeded the asparagus bed.

I popped out for ten minutes to prune the gooseberry bushes and a Damson tree we were given by S and K before we moved - as a small sucker.
It is developing thorns!
I suspect that it might be a blackthorn instead - OK for sloes but not for damsons - we await blossom.

So R slogged on in the garden and muttered about the many parsnips I had dug up yesterday.
The one shown here is subject to suggestions for a lookalike title. It reminds me of a pale Bumbly (Michael Bentine - children's TV) with a spear.

So I left R slogging away and went out with friend NC to The Mason's Arms at Strawberry Bank where I had a very nice Smoked Salmon Muffin, a pint of Hawkshead Bitter, Apple Crumble and custard and coffee.

R had some old Cauli. Soup.

When I got back the electricity was on again so I had a nice cup of tea.

ps. One thing I have done is to move the solar lights from the path down to the Wendy House - where we cannot see them - to the path up through the wood.

Now we have fairies in the garden!

Sunday, 16 January 2011


This was the inside of the shed before it got messy!

So what does one do in the garden when it is just too wet - tidy the shed and have a chuck out.

And then a visit to the recycling centre to dump old batteries, flowerpots, jam jars and so on. I have kept the thousands of screws and washers and nuts and bolts and bits of things that might be of use, and half empty paint pots, bits of wire, etc. etc.

I finally got rid of my fathers projector stand - it weighed a ton and was rusty. I have kept my grandfather's army camp bed - do not know why - might need it one day?

One thing I have still got but is useless and needs to go to the tip is a portable black and white television I bought years ago at ASDA for £32:10s. It was bought for the children to play the first computer games on a Dragon 32 computer. Until the digital switchover - a disaster here as we have lost several channels and with others the signal is ofter not string enough - I could watch cricket on it in the shed, but alas, no more.

So, for now, it is tidy - ish.

No doubt it will need tidying again soon.

Tuesday, 11 January 2011


First the dead birds - I was tidying up on the terrace (which I called the patio but apparently that is spanish for courtyard which it is not) when I came across a dead female blackbird and then a dead blue tit.
So why?
They had flown into a window in out living room bay - windows both sides - and I think they were fleeing the sparrow hawk.
This calls for bird cutouts and so on.

Now to Grouse.

This is not a bird but the ground cover roses I bought from David Austin that have torn my fingers to bits. (My sister the nurse supreme suggests Lotil cream.)

I have been trying to dig the plants up from
this bed just beyond DOC and move them to somewhere that does not matter but - the roots go down so far they must be anchored to bedrock, runners sucker everywhere and in the end I had to give up and leave some of the roots in the soil.
They think they have won but . . . . just wait . . . . I have some evil weedkiller. I will plant temporary plants in the area and when the new shoots come through - zap!

Then last image shows the bonfire of brushwood next to the willow tunnel.
So one day - allowing for dryness, birds' nests, hibernating hedgehogs and so on we will have a bonfire. One day.

One way of clearing weeds anyway!

Monday, 10 January 2011


Yesterday I attacked a bank of very thorny rambler roses - cut them back hard in preparation before moving them.
My fingers now have thorn cuts - one of my leather gloves has a hole at the end of the left middle finger and every thorn found it. I have extracted two sharp bits of rose.
My fingers are also battered from sorting the brushwood from the hedge with kins (split finger ends) on my right thumb and index finger, (it did not seem to hamper my golf).
The roses will be moved to a bit of ground at the back of the house where all I have to do is shear them every so often.
This leaves the bed they were in empty and I have some tulips and white stocks to go in there for now.

So where are the photos this time?

Well, no one wants to see my finger ends - as far as I know - so here are the last of the snow images from the last two weeks or so.

There is one of the young ash by the top fence, a monochrome picture of a shrub on the banking and one of snow on the flowering currant.

Saturday, 8 January 2011


Just when you think that you can get back into the garden and start to clear away the detritus of last year it snows.

We have moved most of the brushwood from the hedge-laying, either into the enormous bonfire or, I have to admit, over the hedge into the field for the farmer to burn - he does own the hedge so technically the stuff is his.

The first image - in which it is snowing - is of the pond with a huge sycamore stump behind surrounded by some large logs. To the left is the hand rail by the small bridge and to the left of that can just be seen the remains of my father's mallet stuck handle first in the ground. The head, of wood, split last year and I had to buy a new marl - which is far too heavy as I overestimated my strength!

The second image - in which it is also snowing - shows the boardwalk I built a couple of years back over the boggy area and the top settling pond - this is to collect gravel and silt washed down the stream and stop the bottom pond clogging up.

In the picture are a pile of logs waiting to be cut up and stacked for the fire next year when they are dry. There are two small trees left in the hedge - on the left the wild plum and behind a hazel.

Now I will have to get a chainsaw for the logs, cut them and wheelbarrow them up to the shed. A man's work is never done?

Monday, 3 January 2011


It is cold again and the garden is a mess from neglect, snow etc.

Mr E. and his two helpers are laying the hedge at the bottom of the garden. It belongs to B.T. but I have agreed to pay for it to be laid to improve our view and help prevent cattle of various sexes trampling into the garden. B.T. has agreed to put up a good wire fence on his side of the hedge after Mr E. is finished.

They are doing it properly and have agreed to save the wild plum, Prunus cerasifera, and, at their suggestion, a fine young oak seen in the photograph below.

We will get a good load of logs from this and they have agreed to saw the suitable wood into 9" lengths ready for stacking to dry for the wood burner.

The bottom picture shows the young oak on the left
growing out of the laid hedge.

The hedge will then be left for a few years before being done again to provide a stronger and thicker structure. Unfortunately it would have been better if there had been more hawthorn in the hedge but . . .

Apart from oak and the wild plum the hedge also contains cherry, hazel, blackthorn, sycamore, willow, sallow, beech, ash, rowan, elder, holly, and self-sown Rhododendron ponticum so the hedge must be of some age to have so many species in just 60 or 70 metres.

The main surprise this had produced is that we have more garden than we thought.

Mr E. says that the lower garden will be less boggy now as the sun can get at the turf. I can thus put off drainage a bit longer.