Friday, 30 March 2012

Ten thousand saw I, at a glance...

Ten thousand saw I, at a glance...tasks, that is. So much to do, so little time to blog!

I am overwhelmed by the sheer amount of things I need to do. I have really had to stop myself stopping halfway though one thing to start another. It was only today that I cleared up the last of the brash and twigs from the fencing:    

Part of the reason is that I started turning this:

Into this: (work in progress).
It's my new rockery, created using rocks from the garden. This is a millstone grit area, and I have quite a few big old rocks from some defunct drystone walls in the garden, and what the last residents probably brought in from somewhere.

I'm getting soil by leveling out the spoil heap from when they built the garage.
Please ignore the piles of stuff we haven't managed to get to the tip yet hanging around in the background...

Of course, there is weeding and sorting and tidying to be done all over the garden, and while I'm so easily distracted, I'm doomed to struggling with it forever.

So enjoy these more charming scenes:

The daffs are out, of course. More than ever this year because I've cut back so much shrubbery. There'll be more (evil Spanish) bluebells this year, too. And some new bulbs I haven't identified. yet. Plus this tree, whatever it is, has finally decided to flower for the first time ever (see above). I don't know why, but it seems to like us and has improved the last two years from nearly dead to blossoming, which is heartening. Perhaps the garden approves of us...

My orchard is also going strong, and I even have blossoms on one of the trees!

 This is the orchard.
Eventually that brash heap in the background will go up in a huge bonfire, perhaps even giving me room for one or two more trees...
Don't worry, there's loads of dead wood and log piles left for the wildlife.
I'm thinking of entering my garden in the Big Wildlife Garden competition run by the Wildlife Trusts and the Horticultural Society. If you have a garden of any size, you should take a look. There are loads of useful tips, and it's for gardeners of all persuasions, from bumbling amateurs like me to people who actually know what they're doing.

Wednesday, 21 March 2012

A season of mist and fruitful springiness

Such a long absence, I do feel apologetic; however, it has been filled with a birthday and Mother's day (UK) and a posh night away and parental visitings and so much else, that I don't feel too bad about it.
A couple of major things have happened in the garden in the intervening days. My lovely husband finished the rustic retaining log 'fencing' along the back boundary, and now all we have to do is fill in a couple of gaps and get rid of the piles of junk the work created. Here is the finished product:

 Don't ask about the white barrels, I have no idea. I think they must have had some bizarre idea that they would keep the posts from rotting, but really they're just as open to the elements. Think they may have to go...

Been having a few discussions about what to grow up against this huge fence. Bamboo? Clematis? Ivy? It has to love shade and not pull the fence down. Hmmm...

In other news, I planted two more trees in my orchard, (sorry, no pics) taking us up to 8. We have 3 standards - one conference pear, one Braeburn apple and one James Grieve apple. The other 5 are dwarf trees - another 2 Conference pears, a James Grieve crossed with something else, a black cherry (I can dream), and a Cox's orange pippin apple.

If you're looking at growing fruit trees, it's a good idea to get some advice on what grows best in your area from friends, neighbours and local suppliers. If you live near Sheffield, you can't go wrong speaking to Julian Brandram, and he sells all manner of marvellous, well-loved varieties. Here in Sheffield, it can get a bit breezy and a bit frosty. Now, I was told by a seller (not Julian) that conference pears wouldn't cope, but friends nearby have managed fine, so I've taken the risk - experience versus professional advice, and we'll see who wins. The black cherry is a long shot, and no-one I know has one, but I thought I'd be a rebel and give it a go. And I think Braeburns prefer more sunshine and warmth, but I will mollycoddle it.

My mother has supplied the standards - thanks, Mum! I bought and planted the others early last year because once upon a time, before we bought the house, I was working with some children in my Wildlife Watch group, and I asked them to draw their green wishes for the new year. This was mine:

Wish fulfilled! It will help us keep our fruit monster kids satisfied, as well - they cost us a bomb in fruit. 

I have two new projects: a rockery and a new flower bed, which I hope to get on with this weekend. Photos to follow. And the least beautiful but most happiness-bringing thing I've done to the garden over the last week? Provided the kids with a huge(ly unattractive) trampoline, to add bounciness to the springiness. Now that is all I see when I look out the kitchen window - but, hey, their faces make it all worth while, and this is a family garden, after all.

Monday, 12 March 2012

Sunlight, bees and fun size trees

I've been gardening again. I have to say, my house is suffering a little - the stairs haven't been hoovered in, er, a while. But there's so much to do outside, and when the sun is shining, outdoor chores seem so much more inviting.

Before I show off today's work, though, I saw these two links on my Twitter feed and thought I might share.
This one is about attracting bees to your garden: bees are still in big trouble (and so are we, without them), so have a look and find out how to pamper your bees.

This one:  is about training your shrubs into fun size trees if you have a small garden without room for traditional small trees. I have 18 - oops, 17 now - grown trees in my garden, and I want to try it, anyway. I love the idea of a fuschia tree and a buddleia tree...Plus, butterflies will love you for it.

So today I finished wrestling the last of the rose bushes into burnable piles of twigs. There may have been a lot of very quiet swearing (so as not to upset the people in the sheltered housing behind us - they watch, like Celebrity Squares) and a lot of twisting myself around trying to de-thorn myself (I'm sure my audience appreciated the comedy.)
I'm going to enjoy burning the prickly, evil stuff into oblivion. It's going to be a big fire:

Apologies for the dark photos - I suddenly remembered after tea that I hadn't taken photos, and ran out with my camera into the dark...

I then did for that rhododendron whose life I've been threatening ever since we moved in. I'm going to take the bigger rocks and move them down to make a rockery next to the garage. I'm thinking this new space might be perfect for a living willow dome.

Sunday I brashed this tree, and now it's just waiting for Mark to chainsaw off the larger branches, and then we'll use the trunk to retain the soil  under the fence, and this particular part of the odyssey will be DONE!


Friday, 9 March 2012

A battle lost, the war won.

Today we started in a fairly half-arsed, 'I suppose we should do something' kind of way, and then actually got a lot done. We cleared the top stretch of fencing and cut down a fair sized tree. I got in a fight with a rose tree and lost. And we found some very bizarre things hiding in the junk behind the fencing. I'm shattered.
First, the battle I lost was with this:

some came down and got tangled in my face. there was blood and drama, and I now look like I got in a fight with a small kitten. Hey ho.

But the good thing is, we went from this:

To this:

And then we cut down this, to retain the soil:

On the way we found these bizarre things:

And this is the pile of junk made elsewhere by the stuff coming out of the boundary...*sigh*

I'm looking forward to finishing off and tidying up, I have to say.
Of course, there's plenty to be getting on with after that...

Monday, 5 March 2012

Well, they say a picture paints a thousand words, so...

Well, they say a picture paints a thousand words, so I'm going to keep the text down today and just show off my husband's hard work, as I wimped out again on Saturday. The snow/sleet/rain on Sunday and visiting family put paid to Sunday. Success! He got to the top of the lower terrace. 

Now we just need to do to the end of the top terrace:

That isn't just any shrubbery, however. That is Grade A, Premium Prickly Stuff. These photos don't do it justice. Some of it is as thick as my wrist, with the kind and size of thorns that makes it resemble some kind of medieval war weapon or torture device. There are three shrubs worth of these beauties. Yay.

Friday, 2 March 2012

Spring always brings goodies

Spring always brings goodies besides March winds, April showers, and fresh faced this case, illness. Our entire household has been, and mostly still is, poorly. Unfortunately that means the garden has taken a bit of a back seat amidst fevers and sore throats and misery. My poor husband, who was so desperate to get the boundary fence sorted, couldn't bear it anymore today, and finally ventured back out to get some work done. I watched, uselessly, took a few photos, and then buggered off back inside to feel ill while being tortured by a bored, sick 3 year old. *Sigh*

Here are my springy photos of today's work:
Not sure what these are going to be. So far the only spring bulbs I've noticed are daffodils and evil Spanish bluebells. These are probably the latter, but I'd love to find something different.
Whatever they are, they've appeared in the old shrub bed, where they must have been waiting for years for a bit of light.

So he did another stretch of fencing, taking us well over halfway through this bit. It's a good thing we have so much in the way of raw materials in the garden - getting the branches for the fencing is a matter of wandering about with a chainsaw or loppers, removing this and that. Great, as it's tidying as we go along.

Another benefit of this fencing is that it's wonderful for wildlife - it makes a great haven for insects and small furry critters. It also won't actually hinder any hedgehogs, as there are gaps in the fence behind.

This is the next stretch to do. We really are getting somewhere!

And then I'm going to sort this bizarre collection of rockery/junk/rhododendron...