The trials and tribulations of a life of leisure...


Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Extremely Low Flying Helicopters

As we were taking the dogs out this evening we could hear a helicopter.

And then it came into sight, a chinook, just clearing (or so it seemed) our roof.

It banked around at the bridge and flew back over us.

And then decided to do it again.

Or maybe it was the other one.

Unfortunately I only managed to capture them on camera on their way home.

Monday, April 27, 2009

On the 18th Day of Digging...

Oh, how I had hoped that today would be the last. But no, the rain gods decided otherwise.

Early morning rain had turned the already muddy patch where the muck heap had been into a quagmire. Very slow progress picking the stones from the gloopy grey mud. And then it started to rain again.

I am trying to decide what kind of soil I have. Normally it is classified on a scale of clay through to sand. But I seem to have clay, sand and clay encrusted sandstone/sand! 

Back out after lunch when the rain had stopped.

I eventually got back to the place where I had failed to remove something buried the day before. The fork had kept hitting it but I could not budge it. I had assumed it was another length of the clay pipe I had been finding, but no. Today I got the fork under the end of it - a wooden post about two and a half feet long...

I battled on until about 6 p.m. despite it raining again and I have now completed it all except the narrow path I had kept as my route out for emptying the bucket of stones.

I will be out there again tomorrow - it must be finished by the end of the day as I have very kindly been offered 10 tonnes of topsoil on freecycle (enough for the veggie patch and at least one of the raised beds) and it is due to be collected on Wednesday.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Veggie Patch Saga Continued

So, end of day 15 in the veggie patch.

I can hardly believe how lucky I have been with the weather. Especially since the harbingers of rain, namely Jean and Margaret, have both been expressing out loud their desire. Last time they did we had the best part of two years non-stop...

I estimate about another three solid days work to go...if my knees hold out.

The muck heap migration has started, now in place for my preparation of the fruit bed.

The rest of the garden is now beginning to suffer from neglect. The rose bed needs weeding, nettles/brambles are re-colonising the high bank and I have a forest of ground elder in LB6/7.

On a positive note it looks as though it could be a bumper year for gooseberries.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Day 11 In The Big Brother Veggie Patch

And I was joined for the second day running by Penny. I dug and Penny helped in removing the stones.

I am now on the homeward run, on a roundabout route around the muck heap...

I am estimating about another week's work left.

Excluding relocating the excess muck heap down to the fruit tree bed to be.

I am on to the third raised bed for stone disposal. Not sure what I will do when that one reaches my desired drainage level.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Extension Part 35

It may be all go in the garden but it's all stop on the extension.

Thomas was here just over two weeks ago glazing the doors. Then he discovered a scratch in the glass of one of them and stopped. A replacement would need to be ordered.

Since then nothing, zilch, bugger all etc.

We had an email from Alan last week. He had a slipped disc and has been flat on his back. Apparently he should be fit after the Easter break. 

We have, however, sorted out the painter/decorator. The first quote we got was over twice the price of the other two. We have decided to go with our contractor's painter, Roddy, as the other two quotes were almost identical and Roddy will be doing the ceiling. But on Paul's suggestion to Tom that the ceiling could be done now while we are waiting for the floor we have heard nothing.

I think it is odds on now that it will be over a year from when the building work started. One month to go. Today is the anniversary of the roof being taken off the cowshed...

10 Things About VPTB

Paul has said that my posts on the veggie patch could become extremely boring: more digging, more stones, more rocks...

So something different...

1) Don't spend money on going to the gym - start a veggie plot from scratch!
2) It is more efficient to only two-thirds fill your bucket with stones before emptying it than to fill it to the top - when I can hardly lift it and end up waddling like a duck to the planters to empty it
3) Have a hot bath every evening to ease the aching muscles. I have rediscovered the delights of bubble-bath, and having a water meter is still cheaper than having a gardener
4) Rejoice in the moment the sun comes out
5) Don't worry about reverting to childhood and wiping your nose on your sleeve. Tissues are impractical when your hands are covered in mud...but remember to put your top into the wash...
6) Don't think about how much there is still to do - every forkful done is one less to do. Corollary - no matter how many times you dig an area there are always more stones that you missed :(
7) Don't think about the fact that you don't actually like vegetables that much - like children (so I'm told) it will be different when they're your own. And I will only grow what I like...
8) Don't think about the fact that it will take many years to break-even due to the four tonnes of compost/topsoil that is needed
9) When you need a break take one. Five minutes out is normally enough before I am itching to get back to it
10) Taking coffee out to the worker is more strenuous than the hard labour - Paul's foot hurts :)

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Veggie Patch To Be - Eventually

Well, metcheck got it wrong. The weekend has been glorious here. It is meant to continue for another couple of days so no doubt it will be wet and windy tomorrow...

Six hours digging on Saturday and I completed the side of the steps to nowhere and then back up to the wall again. Paul brought me out a coffee at about 6 p.m. I had obviously overdone it with the heat and having not eaten - a sudden bout of nausea as I was sitting drinking my coffee...

Back out there today at around 11.15 a.m., but I took more breaks today. And when I wanted a coffee I drank it in the house out of the sun.

I decided I would work my way across the front today - the muck heap is a bit in the way to keep working my way from front to back and vice versa. So, six and a half hours out there today and I didn't even make it all the way across.

The problem is that the majority of the new back garden used to be a barn. And I am guessing that when it got muddy stones got laid down...and now I am having to undo years of damage.

Ten bucket loads of stones today from that tiny strip.

And that is not including the rocks and cobble stones...

<--Rock pile start and end of Day 3-->

Friday, April 10, 2009

Cardbox 37575

Despite the time I have spent gardening I have also been keeping up with and adding to my cardbox.

I reached the milestone of 20000+ questions in cardbox 10 today. 

My next tourney will be my defence of the Scottish Open over the weekend of 16/17 May. Should easily have got the top 18000 7s and 8s in by then if not the end of this month.

Thursday, April 09, 2009

Rain Stops Play

Jean phoned on Monday - she had forgotten in the autumn to divide the plants I had expressed an interest in but if I wanted to go over she could do it now. She still had the list we had made last year. So I took over the two geranium divisions in the afternoon. After a walk with the dogs and grandchildren - stopping off to see the 'pet' lambs (very cute) - we did the garden raid. I am very pleased to have taught Jean a country fact - that a pheasant's nest is called a nide. She did have to double-check in the dictionary when we got back indoors...

I got everything planted when I got home. All look fine except for one, but it may still pull through.

I got some bedding plants from Aldi on Tuesday but they are still waiting to be homed. I did start tidying up my pots on Wednesday. Quite a few are cracked/broken - I need to salvage the plants and throw the worst pots out. I have spares now that I have been populating LB12.

Margaret phoned this morning - Paul had mentioned our need for topsoil to her again and she may be able to get some - should find out next Wednesday. This spurred me on to make a start on the veggie patch. So the best part of five hours digging out stones/weeds from mainly clay. The stones are being dumped in the raised beds, but there is a limit to how many are needed for drainage. I have completed the small area that I have earmarked for rhubarb at the back of the steps to nowhere and forked on some of the muck from the large heap up there. Then I continued down the side of the steps. I had just encountered a large rock when it started to rain. I managed to excavate it out of the ground before I made a run for shelter. The current weather forecast for the next seven days does not look hopeful...maybe just as well as I already have a blister/callus on my left thumb :(

Monday, April 06, 2009

It's That Time of Year Again...

And Paul has already submitted both our tax returns online and we await our rebates.

I have also sorted out this year's ISA. Lloyds 1 year fixed rate ISA has won my business. It is not the highest rate available at 3.0% (becoming 3.2% if over 30K) but it is fixed, which may or may not be a good thing. I am all in favour of fixed rates, at least for shortish periods, at the moment...

I could set it up over the phone and also set in motion switching my others into it. It is certainly worth checking the rates of any existing ones you have lying around - the rates had plummeted with the Bank of England base rate cuts. Apathy costs money...

Sunday, April 05, 2009

Gardening Blues

I felt a little deflated when I decided at about half past four that I had had enough. I was cold, the sun never breaking through enough to compensate for a cold wind. And looking at the forecast I cannot see when I will get out there next.

I hadn't made as much progress as I had hoped - certainly no ticks in boxes for jobs completed.

However, on reflection I had done a few things that had been on the radar. 

I dug out and divided the geranium from the raised bed at the top of the drive. I replanted two large pieces and potted up a third for Jean. I found a fourth small piece with a decent root and new buds which may or may not survive the shock.

I then did the same for two heucheras in LB5 which had become quite woody. I managed to get four 'new' plants from each, planting two of each back into the original bed and the others into the left hand end/top of LB12. 

Then I dug up three of the pulmonarias that I had split last autumn and planted them at the right-hand end of LB12.

I also planted one of my new plants, the cardamine.

The rest of the time was spent on more weeding and de-stoning of LB11.

It actually looks quite nice out there now...

Saturday, April 04, 2009

Afternoon Out at Edrom Nursery

Today is not a gardening day - dull, windy, cold, drizzle turning to occasional rain. So I did the next best thing - I went to Edrom nursery. Jean declined the offer to accompany me and there was no answer when I phoned Anne. Oh well, I coped just fine on my own. I had a list...

I got the two daphnes (retusa and cheriton) and the juniper squamata blue star from the list. I also wanted a dwarf rhodo collection and a roscoea collection but the owners of the nursery were away at a show so I left a note with my phone number.

And then I went off-piste...

Three more pulmonarias:
Blue ensign (plain green leaves with the bluest of blue flowers), Diana Clare (silvery green leaves with dark blue flowers) and
Opal (silver blotched leaves with pale blue/lilac flowers)
I am hoping that I will be able to divide these in the autumn to increase my stock.

Two primulas:
Dark Rosaleen (dark green/purplish leaves red/pink flowers) and
David Valentine (mauve flowers)

Dryas suendermanii (cream flowers)

Fritillaria acmopetala (yellow flowers with maroon markings)

Aruncus aethusifolius (creamy white flowers)

Cassiope martensiana (small strange looking foliage with lots of small creamy white bell-shaped flowers)

Arisarum proboscideum (dark brown/purple spathes)

Andromeda polifolia compacta (pink flowers)

Cardamine waldsteinii (white flowers)

Dicentra cuccularia (white)

Aquilegia saximantana (blue flowers)

and something unlabelled that the lady on the till thinks begins with a P and was £2.50 - sold! If anyone knows what this is please leave a comment telling me :)

I had just relocated them to top of LB8A when a car came by slowly. A lady got out - I assumed it was someone who was lost, but no, she introduced herself as an avid reader of my blog and had come past to see my garden!

Note to Judy: Sorry but it was blowing a gale and raining and you took me by surprise, else I would have shown you around. If you want to come by in better weather I will give you a tour :)

Friday, April 03, 2009

Stones 'R' Us


Didn't think I was going to get out there today with the haar, but decided it wasn't too cold and there was no wind so ventured out at 1.30 pm. Within half an hour the sun broke through and the day was transformed.

Stone clearing duty again today. Had hoped to get some planting done but in the end decided it would be better to get the whole of the back of LB12 completed and then just sort of carried on with LB11. I have still got to do the area where the daffodils are, but I will wait until they have died back as they are only temporarily homed there.

It is still a bit of a mystery to me how I can remove so many stones - I have lost track of how many bucket loads - and the soil level goes up...

Completely lost track of time and it was only when I spotted David and Bracken walking up the path from the river that I looked at my watch - 7 p.m. Time to call it a day -
the best part of five hours allowing for a couple of coffee breaks during the afternoon to give my knees a rest - enjoyed sitting on the new patio for the first time looking at the view to the river. The excavated path is a lot better defined now that I have removed the extraneous stones and crud from the back of the rocks.

It is a little daunting when I see how much there is still to do...and then there are the new beds inside the walls...and all the rest...

Thursday, April 02, 2009

Gardening, Gardening and Yet More Gardening

I had been looking forward to this predicted good weather.

Tuesday I continued digging the path at L11. It is more like geology than gardening. I rediscovered the buried stepping stones/path and have been excavating them. I had to dig out two as they were too far down in the soil at a place where I need to get the soil level up, but hopefully I will be able to relocate them further along. I had to come in about 5.30 pm as we were playing bridge in the evening. Probably a good thing as four hours of digging and squatting to remove stones was not doing my back/legs any favours. Didn't quite get to LB10...

Wednesday and I had an easier day pruning some of the shrubs in the long bank. No idea if I should be doing them now but it is a lot easier to get to them at the moment. 

Today was a treat day - more planting in LB12. But before I could really get going it needed to be re-weeded and de-stoned with my hand trowel. I decided to clear/plant small areas at a time so at least I did have some fun. Twelve heathers from Aldi. Some ajugas that I potted up last autumn from the plants in LB1 right at the road edge - they can fight with the weeds. I then divided the hosta I had brought up in a pot into three. Next the polemonium I had bought at a plant sale last year. Then I dug out the geranium Johnson's blue that was in the raised bed at the top of the drive. I split it into eight and have planted two and potted up the others for later. Then I dug up/relocated two other self-seeded geraniums from the rose bed. I also have a quite healthy looking spiraea growing there but it doesn't fit with my plans for LB12.

Tomorrow and I may continue with destoning/planting the back. I have quite a few heucheras and pulmonarias that need new homes and I am probably still in time to get some snowdrops relocated.

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