Archive for May, 2008

Very small project

After Saturday the weather for the rest of the bank holiday weekend was decidedly soggy. And very windy.  I was mostly consigned to being inside. I did just about manage to put a few bedding plants in on Monday afternoon, but that was it. I got fed up of being buffeted around in a very un-May-like manner (and chasing things round the garden) so I went inside and had a nice cup of tea instead.

Here are the meagre fruits of my labour. They’re all white flowering plants – a mixture of geraniums, lobelia and busy lizzies. They look decidedly puny at the moment, but if we all cross our fingers hard enough, you never know, we might get a whiff of warmth and sunshine which I’m sure they’d appreciate.

Small project

The yellow alliums have started trying to come out again. I was trying to do some ‘close ups’ but I think I could do with investing in a decent macro lens really.

Yellow Allium

And in other news, I’ve won a massive £50 on the premium bonds. About time too. I’ve had the flippin’ things since I was about 2! I was hoping I’d get the monthly £1million. Maybe next time…! Oh look – a flying pig!

The pressure, the pressure!

Yesterday was a very pressurised day – 1400 PSI to be precise. It was the day of the Grand Patio Cleaning Exercise. Two years’ worth of filth to eliminate, since it didn’t get its annual blast last year. Well, more like about 10 years worth really given all the dirt that’s been trampled across or piled up on it over the last 12 months. Here’s a before shot:

Filthy gorgeous

I procrastinated until about 11.30. (It’s one of those ‘can’t-be-bothered-to-start-but-really-quite-enjoy-it-when-I-get-going’ jobs.) However, when I took my lovely Karcher beast out of it’s highly effective cheap black bin-bag protective cover, I was dismayed to find that something (presumably furry and rodent-like) had munched its way the hose. I tried taping it up but it was a bit of a futile exercise really. More water was coming out the hole than the ‘wand’ – and doing so in just the right place to ensure I got more of a soaking than the patio.

I spent the next hour or so dashing from hardware shop to garden centre in the hope that I could buy a replacement hose. No such luck. The garden centre had various accessories, attachments or whole new washers, but not replacement hoses. How stupid. (Serves me right for not checking before I started, eh?) They all assured me B&Q or Homebase would have what I wanted, but there was no way I was going to attempt visiting a DIY store on a bank holiday Saturday. (I probably wouldn’t have got home until Tuesday evening. ) Then I remembered my uncle had the same make washer as mine. Would he mind lending it to me? Not at all fortunately.  (Thank you – much, MUCH appreciated!)

So I finally got started about 3pm (since by then it was clearly time for lunch and a relaxing cuppa first). It took me 3 and a bit hours to blast the ‘main patio’ by the house, but fortunately a mere 30 further minutes to nip my way round the slabs that were put down last year. I bet my neighbours were sick of the sound of the damn machine. Ah well – it’s a ‘once a year job – and I wasn’t the only one doing it.  Just like the days when the sound of lawn-mowers fills the air, it was evident that today was the day for pressure washing.

Anyway – it was definitely worth it in the end. Here’s the ‘After’ shot (taken this morning in the rain).

Sparkly bright

There was much stopping and starting, since I could only go so far before getting a small lake in one particular corner which had to be pooled into the flower beds (using a dustpan and bucket technique). However, giving the plants a drink at least made me feel slightly better about exactly how much water I was using. (More than normal – since it was dirtier than normal.) All the wet muck had to be regularly scraped up and chucked into the flower beds too. Mudpies – lovely!

Here’s me afterwards – that’s dirt, not a tan. 🙂

Me after the patio cleaning thing

And finally – one of my occasional dangling out of the window pictures. Do you like my two-tone lawn? LOL.  Still, the new bit seems to be settling in nicely. The joins are more or less gone, and I know it will all settle down to one colour eventually. We’re forecast rain for the next couple of days but, if we get some dry weather after that, I’ll hopefully be able to fill up the blank bits with a combination of summer bedding (which is still currently resigned to the greenhouse) and some salad leaves (currently still in the seed packet….!).

Aerial shot

RHS Chelsea Flower Show

This week is Chelsea week. The Royal Horticultural Society Chelsea Flower Show. I’m enjoying the nightly BBC TV coverage as usual. Some of the designs are absolutely fab. It always makes me want to get doing something in my own garden. As well as the plants I sit on my sofa lusting over the gorgeous stonework and wooden architecture and things. Oh to have a bottomless pit of money.

Here’s a link to the RHS Chelsea website.

http://www.rhs.org.uk/chelsea/2008/index.asp

And here is a link to the BBC’s i-player where you can see some of the coverage (hopefully anyway) but if you want to watch it’s only available for 4 more days.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/page/item/b007jf2t.shtml?src=ip_potpw

I’d love to go, but I always forget it’s happening until the day before it starts and by then all the tickets have sold out. Perhaps I’ll be more organised next year…

Warm weather causes slight garden activity

Apologies for not posting much lately. My energy reserves seem to be a bit low thus resulting in a minor case of CBA* lately. However the weather has been kind enough to allow me to do a few bits and pieces in the garden the last two weekends, so thought I should ramble my way through an update.

Like many in the UK, it just took a few hours of warm sunshine last weekend to have me scuttling off to my two favourite plant nurseries and coming back with a boot-load of flora and fauna:

Went shopping

Since then I’ve managed to spread  most of it around the back and front gardens – and there’s still plenty of space for more. I haven’t put most of the summer bedding in yet though since there’s still a chance of the odd late frost or two. Here’s yet another gratuitious picture of the back garden:

Getting there

I finally feel like I’m starting to get somewhere. Things are starting to put on a bit of growth now which is great. I just wish the shrubs that are meant to clamber up and obscure the fences would get a move on.  They can’t grow fast enough for me. *prays for lots of nice warm, sunny weather with frequent rain showers but that the rain showers would only happen conveniently at night when I’m tucked up fast asleep*

My next job, next weekend – assuming the weather plays nice – is to dust off the pressure washer and give the patio a good old blast. I love doing that, so I’m looking forward to it already. We have another three day weekend this weekend which will help. I really have no idea why we have two bank holiday weekends in May and then nothing until the end of August… you’d think they could space it out a bit better really…

Anyway, I digress. And in a new departure, here’s a quick glimpse of the front (photo taken specifically from a very cunning sort of angle where you can’t see all the bits that really need sorting out). I’ve been trying to get this right for about four years now. It’s north facing, so doesn’t get as much sunshine as the back garden and so far I haven’t cracked the best sort of plants yet. Plus, I don’t like gardening out the front (I feel a bit on display myself) so it tends to get a little bit neglected on occasion. *slaps own wrist for being naughty*

Out front

I did a bit of organising in the four L-shaped bed today. (You may notice I have similar shaped beds out the back. I think I did that subconsciously. These ones were here first – my 2004 ‘garden design’ project. ) The 6 red heucheras are all new, but the 6 euonymous (sp?) (if you can actually pick out 6!) are all existing plants that I’ve jiggled around from other places – but since you haven’t seen where they were before, I’m not quite sure why I’m telling you . The white things (can’t remember their names) are also not new.  I plan on having a tree of some sort in the middle one day. Something like a silver birch perhaps.

I need to think of things to fill up the remaining bare bits. I’m toying with hostas as the gravel means I don’t get that many slugs out the front. I’m not sure if hostas disappear to nothing in the winter though. Must do some research because that will be the clincher.

The hedge at the back is lavender. It’s just coming back to life and hopefully will be buzzing with bees soon. A baby elephant appears to have sat on one of the bushes (on the pavement side) which is very annoying. Since there is a huge crater and evidence of branch snappage, I think it’s beyond salvation. I imagine it was most likely a drunk elephant in the middle of the night. That sort of thing really winds me up. Especially since it’s not the first time drunk elephants have sat or trodden on plants of mine.  I know they’re replacable, but when someone else wrecks something of yours that you’ve spent money and time on (and probably thought it was hilarious as they did it) it’s just….you know….

Anyway – that’s all for now.

*CBA – can’t be arsed.

Finished…!

I think I’ve finally finished the photography project. Only a month or so late. Oops. I need to have one last read-through of the work book, but hopefully nothing is missing and all being well I can hand it in tomorrow evening when I’m at the college for my web-design course.

Here’s an “aerial shot” (I was standing on a chair) of my portfolio pictures. I was outside this evening spray mounting all the ones with a white border. That was interesting. And sticky. (And occasionally slightly sweary and the cause of several trips back to the printer for fresh copies….)

I know there’s nothing amazingly original or anything, but I’m quite pleased with how they’ve come out anyway.

I FINALLY think I've finished.

And now I must away to bed (as they might have phrased it in years gone by) as I have a stinky headache and I’m very tired.

Turfing by twilight

I had 21 rolls of turf delivered on Friday. (It looked an awful lot as it arrived.)

Garden swiss roll

I wasn’t able to do anything with it until the evening, but once I was home from the doctors and had had a quick cup of tea I got on with laying it out. It was about 6.30pm when I started and 9pm when I finished. As you can imagine, not all the bits fit just right first time, so you end up having to cut things to size here and there and creating a grassy patchwork. This is what took the time – especially as I don’t have quite the right equipment for that job. I was alternating between using a very small kitchen knife and a pair of old wallpaper scissors – neither of which were particularly sharp.

It was just going dusk when I finished, and I ended up standing there in the darkness giving it a good old soak with the hosepipe. This meant I couldn’t properly admire my handiwork until the next morning. I’m pretty chuffed with it though. It’s even been nice and showery today so I haven’t had to go out and give it a drink.

All turfed up and ready to go

So what was I doing at the Doctors on a Friday evening? Well I regularly get cramp in one of my feet and after having had a particularly unpleasant 20 minute painful spasm the day before, I went along to see if there was anything that could be done. I was prescribed Quinine. I wish I hadn’t been. I’ve never reacted to any medicine before, but I think it’s fair to say that Quinine and I do not get along. I spent the whole of last night feeling like I was going to throw up, and had nasty stomach pains. When I got up this morning (after a more or less sleepless night) I found some weird, itchy spots around my ankles. These are all things that the advice leaflet that came with the pills said could happen.

After googling Quinine (and getting myself unnecessarily alarmed – things like finding out the side effects caused withdrawal in the US as medication for muscle cramps) I ended up ringing Shropdoc (my local UK healthline). I spoke to another doctor who told me not to take any more (not that I was planning on it any time soon) and to spend the day drinking plenty of fluids with my feet up. I have done. The stomach pains seem to have gone, but I’ve basically spent the day feeling generally a bit unwell.

I would much rather just have the damn foot cramp!