Saturday, 31 March 2018

Crazy Rains

Flooded stepping stone.

We're at it again, that impossible Six on Saturday challenge to share six & only six things of interest in the garden.

When last we met, I'd nearly completed my potting shed, & the missing parts to my storage shed had finally arrived.

I'd hoped my shed adventures would be behind me by now.

Instead, we had a week of crazy rain.

1.  Inside job.

The potting shed roof got brought inside to dry out before felting on it.

It's just a tiny thing.  Not at all in the way.

While construction of the storage shed began in the living room.

Which bag of screws do we use?

2.  Cabin fever.

We've an ancient mattress turned down by every charity, & impervious to Freecycle.  All these rainy days, there's me nurturing a convert's belief that inside this mattress lives the perfect trellis for my berry wands.

During surgery.

I'll half the springs (like making a sandwich) to make 2 trellises.  The padding includes a quilted outer cover, an inner coir-like material, & a bit of foam.  Folded together, they make a nice cushion I hope to cover with outdoor fabric to use as a deck pillow for the dogs.

3.   Cutting update.

This is the current state of the cuttings I took a little over a month ago just before we moved - about a 2 thirds death rate.  As hard as it is to believe, that's an improvement for me.

Hardy little curries.

The discussions I'd had with some other SoSers prior to this attempt, suggested that I'd kept my cuttings too wet.  You may notice it's the drought resistant curry plants that've lived.

The pendulum has swung, me thinks.

4.  Into the storm.

Although all of the above are garden things, none of them are photographed in the garden.  So for you, I braved the elements to check on the newly planted woodwardia.

Woodwardia unigemmata.

It's promised that this fern's new growth will come in bright red, then the whole thing'll go a bit bronzy in the autumn.  Considering this thing can grow 2 metres in all directions, can you even imagine?

5.  A shady character.

I got this little guy because I thought his leaves would brighten up my shady border.  A day or 2 inside the warm house & buds appeared.  It bloomed soon after being planted.

Brunnera macrophylla Silver Spear

My photos really disappoint me, but this one in particular fails its subject.  Like forget-me-nots, the brunnera's little blue flowers glow in the shade.  This is a plant I already love.  Can't wait to see it reach full size.

6.  Long awaited daffs.

Where I'm from, the old mountain folk might call someone dumb as a daffodil, because daffs bloom in the snow.  My daffs haven't been at all dumb this year.  I got my first bloom only yesterday.  These were the ones twice rescued from the fox.

Highly intelligent daffs.

Although there's lots of buds, there's also lots of foliage, most of which have little brown tips.  Not sure if the snow butched them all up or the rain gave them some really good hair days, but the arcs of the foliage & tapered buds are stunning.  Never saw daffs look so good.

And there you have it, my Six.

Do I see tulips in my future?
Considering the week that's been in it, don't think I'll make any predictions for next Saturday's Six.

                (wink wink nudge nudge => => => =>)

For the moment, I'm headed over to our meme's host, The Propagator to see what his week's been like.  He'll have links to all the other SoSers in his comment section, so I can catch up with them as well.

Have a garden?  We'd love a snoop in it.  The Propagator's written some guidelines, so why not join us?

Saturday, 24 March 2018

Pedal to the Metal

Out of the gates & running like the wind.

It's #SixonSaturday time, guys.  Six things happening this week in my still-new garden.

Last week, it was all wait wait wait for the stars to find their proper alignment before big things could happen.

This week, everything's slipped into gear.  I do believe we took advantage of it.

1.  Shed update.

The potting shed arrived without instructions.  Several phone calls & a few emails later, they sent us a list written in what quite possibly was Middle English.  Ultimately, my budding relationship with the shed provider broke down & we were on our own.

Despite this, by Day 1, we got the floor in place.  As we stood admiring our work, I heard a noise & turned to find myself eye-to-eye with a DoodleFace on top of the wall.  Our Artful Dodger dog had unlatched 2 doors in the house & climbed the wall to share in our joy.

End of Day 2.

The end of Day 2 coincided with the end of the week & all 4 walls in place.  Just before dinner, the missing parts to our storage shed arrived, so next week it'll be duelling sheds for my Six.

2.  Securing the perimeter.

Our back garden has six levels to it.  We took the property on the condition that a 5' fence be erected around the first 3 levels to prevent the continued adventures of Mlle DoodleFace.

This wasn't done (thus the Doodle escape in #1), prompting a 3 week discussion about what constitutes 5'.  That disagreement ended with the consensus that 5' is in fact, 60".

New discussions have commenced over who owns the 4' fence between our property & our neighbours.  The neighbours have several shrubs & small trees along that fence, but there are places where a well oiled Doodle can slip through.

The first breach is next to a small, shady raised bed to the left of the back door, previously loaded down with BioBizz.  Shifting the bags uncovered debris from some long forgotten re-roofing.

Fern bed

Once the area's cleared, a woodwardia unigemmata fern will go in the far corner, & a gillenia trifoliata on the other side, with some smaller plants at the front of the bed.  As a temporary measure, I'll stab a few bamboo sticks next to the fence to fool Mlle DoodleFace into thinking it's 5' tall.

Yes, I'm a dreamer.

3.  Herb garden.

The bed on the other side of the steps gets plenty of sun.  Since the back door leads into the kitchen, this little bed's a great place for the herb garden.

Future herb garden.

Excavating the coping here initially caused a fright.  No bones, but the unveiling gave an impression that under the grass, the whole area'd been paved.  However, eventually the fork sunk up to its armpits in the soil, so herb garden, here we come.

4.  Keep your enemies closer.

When the Beast's snow melted, it showed the prevalence of ground elder in our new neighbourhood.  For such a neglected garden, ours has surprisingly very little.  The bit we do have seems to've originated from under the contested boundary fence.

My first experience with ground elder was 4 gardens ago when we lived in the 17th century priest's house. 

In spring, a triangular bed between a gravel path & an apple store turned yellow with aconite.  Once that died back, the ground elder came along, bloomed a white carpet, then got mowed down by the landlord's gardener.

Sounds very civilised except the ground elder, not content with its triangle, colonised all the beds in that garden.

The Doodle, the kerria, & the ground elder.

Considering the relatively short time we'll be here, I've decided to conserve energy by embracing our ground elder.  Or at least, maintaining a truce with it.

As luck would have it, the ground elder grows at a gap in the neighbours' side.  I dropped in a couple of kerria that I brought with me, thinking they're big & ugly enough to take on ground elder.  Even though they can be thugs, I'll probably stick in a few more to give the impression they're a hedge.

Hopefully, adding some bad tempered bamboo stakes here will deter a certain canine from absconding.

5.  The Pile.

If you remember, the site of our potting shed was previously occupied by a survivalist's shed.  I didn't mention at the time that The Pile occupied another part of that level.

The Pile.

The person who removed the survivalist shed wouldn't take The Pile because it consisted mostly of garden waste.  That undoubtedly makes sense to more knowledgeable persons that myself.  People who also understand badly written Middle English.

Because of this arcane rule, my pots've spent 3 weeks sitting on the lawn.  This week, a certified Pile Remover came, so the Great Pot Migration has begun.

Potted forest, garlic, & weight reduction.

All the garlic, Bast's weight reduction chamber, & about half the potted forest've been moved.  If I want my pears to cross pollinate this year, I better shake a leg & reunite them.

6.  Front garden.

I do have a front garden, but until this week it's been filled with pots, & latterly, shed parts.  This state of affairs causes anxiety in the tiny OAP fairy woman next door (who shouldn't be confused with the RtHL BossyBoots).  OAP fairy woman periodically emerges for updates & offers of tea.  She's relieved that work's begun to expand a bed.

At present, my plan incorporates This Thang growing under the window.  It looks like a passion flower to me, which is strange because it survived the Beast.  Could there be hardy passions at our new house?  Do hardy passions even exist outside works of fiction?

We shall see.

This Thang. 

The proposed occupants of the expanded bed include a spirea & some roses, all languishing in their pots.  The roses were grown from seeds found in a graveyard in Paris.  Hopefully I can propagate them, because it'll take nerves of steel to leave those babies behind.

There's also a peony that, with 2 of its mates, I dragged from the Angry Village (3 gardens ago).  The 2 mates grew happily in the very next garden, so were left there.  The last of the trio - wherever I've planted it, however much I've cossetted it - rewards me with peony pouts.  Maybe this bed'll put a blush in its blossom.

In the space beween the plants I brought with me & This Thang, I'll plant some of my colourful veg in lieu of garden flowers.  I'll let you know how the OAP fairy takes to them.

Well earned rest.
And that's our busy week.  It's felt good to make progress, limited though it may be.

Now that you & I've caught up, be sure to head over to The Propagator to see what he's been up to.  In his comments, you'll find links to all sorts of Six-on-Saturday folk hailing from 4 continents (at my last count).

Thanks for stopping by.  Hope to see you next week.

Saturday, 17 March 2018


A single cyclamen.

Here it is, our weekly #SixonSaturday happening, that day when bloggers around the world share six things from their garden - a job, a new bud, a pest, a plan.

A few weeks ago, we moved house.  Last time you saw me, I'd just climbed out of a snow bank & was busy clearing an area in the new garden for a potting shed.

The simple task of levelling ground has developed into a shed saga.  We're also under another snow attack.

Best of all, I've begun a proper explore of my new territory.

1.  Another base, new skill set.

Last week, it was nose to the grindstone getting the base ready before the potting shed was delivered.  My dedication to duty, all that delay of garden gratification, & then the shed's arrival was postponed.

However, the 2nd shed (our storage shed) came early.  While I'd rather've been peering intently into the nooks & crannies of the garden, all of my shed contents were still inside the house, annoying the non-gardeners.

Ground Levelling, Episode 2.

A certain SoSer convinced me to get a metal shed.  That necessitated a cement or paver base, instead of the so-easy-to-assemble-even-I-could-do-it plastic grid base.

We have a hoard of pavers (which you'll read more about in #4 below) so pavers it is.  I watched a YouTube video, rounded up the resident muscle brigade & boldly went where we highly educated, unceasingly impractical folk have never gone before.

Devil's work.

We laid pavers, laughing & swearing, me shouting down cries to hire a builder, all of us trying to outrun an unpredicted rain storm, hampered by not only total ignorance, but my CFS . . . I'm a bit of an optimistic eejit, if you've not picked that up over these many long months.

After 2 hours, we only got a third of the area covered before the rain.  And because we're who we are, we're proud of our one-third paver base.

2.  Stepping stones.

The rain came, so we go up the smooshed-grass trail from paver base to house, & I mutter that I'm going to have to dig out a path here.

My son, El Punko stops & taps the ground with the shovel he's carrying, making a metal-against-stone sound.  Then he looks at me with his, I-see-things-you-don't-see grin.  It's a game he's played his whole life, using his incredible visual acuity against me.

After I scraped the grass off.

One of the things that makes his vision so acute is that he sees extra shades of green that most people don't - the grass over the stones was a different shade to him, hinting at something underneath. 

With eyes like that, seems a waste he's not interested in gardening.

The stones look a bit far apart.  Can't wait to uncover them all, see what the plan there was.

3.  No plants.

So we go inside, spread an old blanket on the living room floor, set out our tools, & gleefully unbox the metal shed.  Five shed parts are missing.

The universe has spoken.  Feck delayed gratification.

On with the rain gear & outside to explore.  Besides the hither & yon of a few bluebells, there's little that didn't get here on the wind or by thwarting the fence between us & the neighbour's garden - the fennel from last week, a couple of valerian, some vinca, ivy & creeping Rose of Sharon.

So far, I've found 2 inherited plants - the lone cyclamen pictured above & this mystery plant below:

Little red-capped strangers.

It looks rather peony-y, doesn't it?  Last year's dead stems don't look peony-y at all, & it does seem a bit posh for this garden, but I'm still betting it's a peony.

4.  The terrace.

It surprised me that the horizontal section of the terrace had pavers over it.  You can see they're simply laid in place without mortar.

The terrace lid.

I'd expected builder's rubble underneath, but no, just compacted dirt.  So, original design or someone in the history of the place not wanting more garden to look after?

Inside the box.

Whatever the story, that stuff's going to need some food.  Have been reading about bio-char, which various sources claim to be plant manna.  Has anyone had first, second or third hand experience with it?

5.  Not-crooked cherry tree.

While the garden had little to offer of plant interest, in my potted forest, the Not-Crooked Cherry tree is in bloom.

Think I'll name her Hillary.

I bought this at the Angry Village Plant Sale (3 gardens ago).  They said it was a wild cherry someone'd found in the woods & dug up.  Whatever its pedigree, it blooms a lot earlier than my Crooked Cherry &'s a lovely sight on a snowy day like today.

6.  Like Santa, your kids know everything about you.

El Punko gave me a book this week.

.Some book larning

He said it was so I could keep up with the other SoSers.  And he called the other bloggers that - SoSers.  All this time, I thought he wasn't listening.

My education begins.  And I don't mean Latin names.

Here be new plants.
This week, events conspired to remind me that gardening isn't working til you drop in the hammock with a glass of wine & a book you're too tired to read.

A gardener is as much a part of the garden as the plants, the bugs, the rapacious frogs, the fox & birds & marauding cats.  It takes a dialogue  amongst the lot of us to know what's needed next.

Sometimes what's needed is a little less levelling of the ground, a little more joy in discovering my garden.

Or other folks' gardens.  For a lot more of that, run over to our meme host, The Propagator to see what he's been up to this week.  There'll be lots more links to SoS garden bloggers in his comment section.

Saturday, 10 March 2018

Little Boxes Made of Ticky Tacky

Dignity restored.

It's been a fortnight since the Beast from the East swept in during our Great Migration.

As with every move, something vital isn't in the box I thought it was, my favourite (insert household item) doesn't fit, & there's a list of niggling repairs to compile for the agent.

But with the snow gone, every afternoon, you'll find me in the garden.

1.  Potting shed.

Our previous houses've had multiple outbuildings - sheds, garages, sometimes even an apple store or outdoor flush toilet.  Our new place had this:

A bit of fencing propped on top of a slide.

But alas, this fine structure wasn't for us - the landlord hauled it away.  (The proper shed in the photo belongs to my neighbour.  Note the terraces for later.)

Levelling the base area.

Our potting shed'll go in the same place.  I chose plastic over a cement or stone base so we can take it with us when we move (hopefully to our forever home, this time). 

There's about 4" of loose, dry topsoil, then paving stones underneath.  Might've saved a quid or two if I'd poke around a bit first.  On the other hand, not sure how even the pavers are.  Once I realised they were there, I worked on smoothing the topsoil rather than digging them out.

A weed barrier goes under this grid, but for now, it's easier to put it in place & get it level, rather than measuring & remembering the math.

2.  Abscondment explained.

Besides abandoning their survivalist's shed, the amount of stuff left in the house suggests the previous tenants did a runner.  When levelling the shed space, I found critical evidence to explain this dead-of-night departure.

The murder weapon.

My family remains unimpressed.  One callous soul even reminded me of the bones I dug up in a previous garden, how they also set my mind to murder.  Turned out, I'd unearthed someone's dead dog. 

Imagination's like a muscle, you know.  Gotta exercise it.

3.  Fennel

We've never had a terraced garden before.  It'll probably become our veg patch, but for the moment, I keep staring at it like a love sick puppy, taking in the details.  Here's a little beauty growing in the masonry.  It smells of anise so I reckon it's fennel.

Growing in the cracks.

4.  Hollyhock

Under one of the trees at the top of the terrace, I found a hollyhock that looked as if someone had yanked it out of the ground & flung it there.  It was still alive, so I tossed it in a trug that had melted snow in the bottom to rehydrate the thing, then forgot about it.

The next day it was still alive, so I stuck it in a nearly empty bag of compost, splinted its broken stem with a Magnum stick & some packing tape, then propped it against the fence. We'll see how it goes.

Patient's recovering well.

5.  Rt Hon Lady BossyBoots

Your one appeared in our back garden unannounced.  A bit forward for a Brit, but not for an Appalachian, so no offense taken.  She asked what trees were in my potted forest.


Before I can open my mouth, she spews a list of her own trees, & why's that fig back here - move it to the front garden, do you feed it there's your mistake, neverfeedafigit'llneverfruit, they love to suffer & that hollyhock's just a wild (dismissive flick of the hand), tiny (grimace) green flower, you won't like it, I have purple hollyhocks I'll give you, granny's bonnets, that's what you need, did you know your house was a cannabis factory?

I'd hoped for murder, but a grow house.  That'll do.

And she was IN my back garden, Mr Propagator, so she counts as one of my Six.

6.  Kickass Compost

Thus explained, the 10 bags of this stuff the last occupants left beside the back door.  Rumour has it the entire crawl space under the house is full of it.  I've not found access to the crawl space yet, but if I do, I'm going in.   


Apparently, it's an hydroponic mix.  I've been researching how to use it in the veg patch.  My initial searches included the word 'cannabis' which led me to blocked sites.  Might have to have a word with our resident hacker.

Until then, does anyone know whether this stuff needs cut to work in the garden or can it be used full test?

Cuttings still hanging in there.

It's been an interesting move.

Best of all, the garden feels good.  A few weeks ago in this very blog, I let loose on hating my garden .  I was only able to do that because we were leaving the damnable place.

Now this week . . . well, during one of my rests, I sat looking at the witch hazel, the last of its crinkly red flowers drying out for seed.  I thought, move that to 11:00 & it'll be perfect.

So I did.  And it was.  This garden feels good.

I'm not alone in this feeling.  If you want to read more gardeners in love with their patch, head over to The Propagator for his & other stories by the half dozen.

See you next week.

Saturday, 3 March 2018


Mulch underlay or recycling . . . 

Ah, the sound of packing tape ripped from cardboard.  The essential trawl of local take-away options.  Mlle DoodleFace doing zoomies with a gigantic poster tube in her mouth while Mizzy BunnyButt climbs a Seuss-ian stack of clothes.  Mr BigNose sighs from a safe place on the couch.

Yes, it's done.  My worldly possessions, the critturs & family've been shifted to our new locale.

I desperately want to explore the garden.

Alas . . . moving coincided with the Beast from the East.  The new garden hides its secrets under snow, so your first tour will be to see how the travelling plant show survived.

1.  First order of business, feed the birds.

Dinner's ready!

In addition to the feeder, we've sprinkled raisins outside the dog area, & piked some fine apple halves.  Our water dish still hides in some unknown box.  Prayers've been offered for its resurrection.

2.  The Little House

On the day, the movers gave me untold grief about what they referred to as my Little House.  Any advice I offered on how to manhandle it  - something I'd done myself, I might add - they immediately disregarded.  Only an idiot would own such a stupid thing, & they certainly weren't listening to an idiot.

Ill treated composter.

It didn't surprise me to see how unceremoniously they dumped it in the new garden.

3.  A new dearly departed.

Not a pet this time.  For all the movers' dyspepsia with me, initial inspection of the potted forest reveals only one fatality - an Asian pear (in this photo, the horizontal stem).  The tall vertical sticks are bamboo cane to ward off bulb-eating fox.  The short stub of a twig near the label (about the same height as the daffs in the pot), that's what's left of the trunk.

Formerly known as an Asian pear.

This particular tree failed to thrive last year.  On calling the nursery for advice, it was determined that the tree, not myself, was at fault.  A free replacement arrived at my door in November.

Prior to the move, I'd thought the original still had life in it, but seeing how easily it snapped, perhaps a bit optimistic.

4.  Frozen Fatsia

On moving day, our last plant load happened close to midnight.  My thoughts were on duvets rather than dahlias, so it wasn't until the next morning I saw the spider fatsia.

This poor fella needs a fainting couch.

I've wrapped the pot in fleece & cover the plant itself at night.  Hopefully it'll perk up when the weather changes.

5.  Optimistic future.

For all the drawbacks to snow, it does give the garden a surreal, exotic feel.  The ordinary looks familiarly unfamiliar, maybe like we do in fancy dress.

Snow-improved lavender. 

The day before the move, I lifted a failing lavender & stuck it in a pot, rather than leave it behind to some unknown fate.  With the bare stems coated it snow, it suddenly looks like it has its whole future ahead of it.  Which I suppose is what even dying things have.  What else would be ahead except the future?

6.  Lovely in death (or dormancy).

And just look at dear creeping Jenny, herself tucked in for winter, worthy of a Victorian death portrait under her bonnet of snow.

Sleeping Jenny waiting to creep again.

So there it is, a week of delaying gratification.

Apple delights.

Next Saturday, the landlord comes to discuss the garden.  There's rumours of weed barrier & pea gravel, so I'll use the week to fortify my alternate plan.

Until then, there's a community of wonderful gardeners featured at The Propagator whose own Six on Saturday haven't a speck of snow on them.  Run over & find out why.

See you next week!