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TheH (Hazel)'s Journal

TheH (Hazel)'s Journal April 2013

Last Post 1661 days 21 hours ago

The other side of the picture

30 April 2013 23:12:49
Oak bed

Oak bed

Having just posted a journal showing Celandine in a good light I have to admit that my efforts to contain this pretty thug continue unabated!

I had a very productive day yesterdsy - first cut the grass (now takes a total of half an hour) and then shredded the buddliea trimmings and some other branches of stuff. Next step was to mix the grass cuttings and the shreddings and make another layer on the compost heap that was turned the other day. 

After that I took a break and after lunch I tackled the Oak Bed - that area in front of the house where the Cornus Controversa is - which was pretty covered with Celandine. I suppose I could be grateful that the Celandine is so successful that few other weeds dare show their faces!

The big surprise was just how much is planted in that bed - these plants and bulbs were completely overshadowed by the Celandine - so another barrow full of them was removed :-)

I have now discovered where I planted those woodland bulbs I got last autumn LOL! The Chinodoxa and Scillas are looking like they want to spread, as do the snowdrops! I got some Anemone Nervosa in johnstown this year and it is really looking good!

Mind you, there is still an awful lot of bare ground in this bed so thats my cue to plant out some of those seedlings that are outgrowing their pots in the coldframe!

In defence of Celandine

30 April 2013 22:57:12
Celandine Corner

Celandine Corner

After all the bad press I've given Celandine over the past while I just have to post this photo of a corner of my garden where Celandine is the star of the show! This corner also contains the first bit of the native Bugle ( the little blue flowers at the bottom) 

I'm experimenting with this corner this year - just removing the "thugs" such as thistles, nettlers etc. ANd letting the other wild flowers have their way! It it doesn't work out there's always Roundup LOL

Sumjak's open day

28 April 2013 22:45:26

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This morning wasn't promising but we checked the forecast for Hacketstown and since it was saying that the chance of rain was less than 10% so we took a punt and off we went!

Well, were we glad! Sumjak's garden is truly wonderful! I am lost for words! There were beds full of dark helebores, beds of tulips, Long walkways under pergolas, and enchanting Tropical Corner carefully sheltered from the ever-present wind! 

I lost myself in the tranquility of the Japanese Garden and I could hear gentle wind-chimes but couldn;t see them anywhere - they were located in a lovely Gazebo - how did they manage to keep the wind-chimes in one piece on such a windy site? The answer was simple - some very discreet glass panes in the Gazebo broke the strength of the wind enough! I was entranced!

There is also a huge pond recently added to the garden which has load os promise. 

This garden is not small - so since it would have been too far for Brendan to walk, Sumjak's hubby was at hand with a golf-cart to ferry him around so he could enjoy the whole garden!

I also loved the Tropical corner - more innovative use of glazing - an unusually shaped area glazed to form a shelter for her non-hardy plants over the winter and partially opened up to let them enjoy the summer!

I could go on and on - but the best thing is to let you see for yourselves ....

Two steps forward, one step back ....

27 April 2013 01:35:33

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Got my domestic stuff out of the way as quickly as possible this morning as it was lovely and sunny and there was rain promised for later.

Climbed into all the gardening gear and opened the door - and the rain came down! Grr! Sat down (in the gardening gear) and started reading the Irish Garden that had arrived this morning - only got to page 15 when the sun came out again! Out I went without further ado and got stuck in to weeding the second side of the driveway.

That was the story for the rest of the day - Sun, rain, and all the time a nasty north wind! 

Eventually had to give in and go put on the Ski-gear again as it was perishing! I really thought I was finished with them for this year, but as I said, two steps forward (starting to harden off seedlings and dahlias) one step back (back to the Ski-gear in April!)

While the sun was out I spotted the pretty flowers on the Comfrey (thank you Scrubber) and also that little violet that has been blooming all winter long and seems to have gotten its second wind the last few days!

Well, with all the ins and outs of the weather, I was really pleased to get the second side of the drive all nice and respectable. Of course it did result in an overflowing wheelbarrow of 99.9% celandine LOL

Sister time

25 April 2013 22:42:46

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Today it was my turn to visit my sister Elizabeth's garden. She is so good at helping me with my garden that it's about time I returned the favour. So leaving home it was quie overcast but as the day progressed the weather improved too.  

I arrived as the sun was coming out and a lovely Candytuft tumbling over a wall was my first greeting but without delay we headed to the back garden where Elizabeth showed me her various treasures carefully protected with polythene and fleece on some newly constructed shelving on her deck. 

Then we got down to the business in hand - Elizabeth needed encouragement to get going on some seed-planting. The seeds unfortunately had got "tidied away" in her shed so in preparation for my visit she had removed everything from the shed until the elusive seeds were located. I will not attempt to describe what she manages to pack into her tiny shed but suffice it to say that packing it up again was a highly skilled task!

The idea of me giving anyone advice on seed sowing with my very variable track record, but thanks to my avid watching of TV gardening programmes at least I have the theory!  Elizabeth got a pack of 10 different vegetables so we started with them and planted them up in divisions in a tray.

We also planted some Canary Vine in her Yellow bed, and some old-fashioned sweet peas in her Purple bed (she is very organised in planning her planting!) and then we tidied up the rest of the Purple Bed - Elizabeth had done a great job on that bed earlier in the year, but several plants in pots were spoiling the effect of her work so we planted up all the pots that were for that bed and it now looks great!

Final task was to plant up some Physalis seeds in a large pot - she wants them to brighten up one of the beds - if all those seeds germinate she will be able to fill the whole garden with them!

Lovely day, lovely company and a sense of satisfaction for a job well done!

 

Mixed day!

24 April 2013 22:54:28

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Started out well this morning - gave the Dahlias their first day out! The morning was very pleasant so I got stuck in to some more weeding - this time it was the Fernery and the Drive border. The birds have been making a terrible mess of the drive - scattering the clay and peat all over the drive. I have planted some Ajuga along the edge and in time it will solve the problem but in the meantime it is a mess! So as i weeded down this edge I made a kind of channel to catch the debris - time will tell if this is the solution.

In the process of creating this little channel I found that the guys who set in the kerb left all the builders rubble in the bed so I dug out three full buckets of junk just at the edges! I dread to think what I would uncover if I dug over the whole bed :-)

The afternoon was a bit of a change - light drizzle - so transferred my activities to the greenhouse where I potted on the Brachysome seedlings  and moved out some seedlings to the coldframe. Potted on the Ricinus too as they were coming out the bottom of their pots and now have a few more leaves .....

I really need to start planting out some of this stuff before the "plants in waiting" take over the whole garden!

After a while I got bored with the planting out and as it was still drizzling I resorted to Elizabeth's solution from last year and took out the golf umbrella - it makes a perfect tent even it it looks a might eccentric!  Glad I live in the country where there are less passers-by - although today there was a constant procession of tractors up and down the road as the farmers were busy spreading slurry!!!!

Anyway, I am happy to report that the Fernery and adjacent beds are now a celandind-free zone - well - except for the very bottom corner in photo 3  - Ha Ha!

Better late than never!

24 April 2013 10:46:54

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These beautiful daffodils hide away at the back of the woodland area and only come in to flower when nearly all the more flamboyant yellow ones are on the wane! Of course, as usual, no idea of the name but I've made a note to move a few of them into more prominance for next year :-)

Did I find a Vine Weevil grub?

23 April 2013 22:18:07

I think its alive ....

22 April 2013 23:20:02

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Went for a walkabout in the garden this morning before Elizabeth headed back to Dublin. I had the camera in one hand and a notebook to make notes of things to do in the other - suffice it to say that we only got around about a third of the garden before she had to leave - and my list of things to do is pretty daunting!!!!

However, in our progress round the garden I was delighted to see that at least one of my Tetrapanax is showing some timid signs of life ... I really thought it was a goner after the late frosts!

Solomon's Seal has come on very well over the past few days - its amazing how quickly it comes up once it gets started!

And the first batch of seedlings are hardening up despite the horrible wind!

Goodies from Fota ... and Elizabeth!

22 April 2013 22:45:35
Goodies from Fota

Goodies from Fota

Sunday was a great day out for me and for my sister Elizabeth (AKA Elizabeth II to distinguish her from Elizabeth7).

The morning was fine and sunny - not like the forecast at all - so we set off for Fota Plant Fair. I was pleasantly surprised at how quickly we got there - only about an hour and a half! 

This was our first visit to this fair and we were amazed at the size of it! We were like kids in a candy store - spoiled for choice! the very first stand we stopped at was the Mount Venus stand where we renewed acquaintance and of course found some treasures there - then we spotted Deborah in the distance so off we went for another nice chat and a few more goodies! 

However, we found that there were just too many stands to visit so after browsing a few more it was time to leave - and as we let the rain came down so obviously our timing was perfect!

That would have been a really good day, but it got even better - Elizabeth7 had kindly invited us to call by for a cuppa so off we went to her delightful cottage not far from Fota. We got the full treatment there - best China, lovely tea, hot scones and great carrot cake! Even Meg did her best to entertain us while we ate. The chat was great as the two Elizabeths seem to be kindred spirits especially on the garden front! Then out we went for a tour of the Primrose Heaven! They are so spectacular in Elizabeths garden at this time of year that one could easily overlook the many interesting plants that Elizabeth has incorporated in her delightful garden. It is full of interesting areas, with different themes - a dramatic and beautifully planted stone wall has really matured since I was there last year, and the sheltered and sunny nook behind the house is truly delightful!

I admired some Horsetails so without further ado Elizabeth grabbed some self-seeders for me - then she got going with the fork and gave us a positive mountain of the beautiful primroses that we have shared out between us!

So full of tea and cake, and the car laden with goodies we headed home!

Thank you Elizabeth for a delightful time!

Garden in a Gale

17 April 2013 20:50:40

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So after that great day yesterday (so glad those curtains are sorted!) today there was a gale blowing all day long! It wasn't too bad when I got up, so I propped the greenhouse window open in anticipation of an improvement, and took the lid off the coldframe and then scurried back indoors.

It didn't improve all day long, so finally I had to get togged up and go out to batten down the hatches for the night!

So what to do on a day that is definitely not for outdoors ? I settled down for the day with some great gardening books (thanks Clare!) and am reading them from cover to cover!

I'm pleasantly surprised at how many of the plants in the "1001 Best Plants" I recognise - and I just might start another wish list! That book gives little bits of information on cultivation etc. that i found very helpful. It was also lovely to imagine places where I could put the many plants that took my fancy!

Now I'm reading "The Complete Garden Makeover Book". This may be dangerous with my tendency to take on new projects .... but at least tomorrow is forecast to be better!

Domestic Bliss

16 April 2013 22:34:48

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Those of you who have read my journals over the past few years may have noticed a distinct lack of references to domestic chores. This is mainly because I do everything I can to avoid these said chores.

However today was a bit different. I put it down to finding my Christmas Rose in flower when I came for breakfast - rare events cause unusual reactions!

On top of that, the sun was brilliant and even though the wind was pretty spectacular  it was still possible to dry line after line of clothes!

The great day tempted me to do a task that hasn't been done since we moved here - the curtains in the living room got a long overdue wash! If you visited our home you may remember that a feature of the house is the south aspect with lots of solar gain - to anyone designing a home, bear in mind that more windows means more curtains! I'll say no more!

Ten large curtains are now reposing on the spare bed, washed dried and NOT NEEDING IRONING!!! Result!!!

Finally got out to the garden about 5 pm and was well stuck in to filling up the beds in the Wind Plaza with half-digested compost from a much neglected compost bin when Domestic Event number two happened - the replacement dishwasher arrived! So in out of the garden and supervised the changeover - its not quite up and running but I should be freed from dishwashing duties in the next day or so!

And Jacinta - yes, the Deadly Nightshade is in the topmost bed - at least four feet off the ground so relatively safe :-)

 

On a roll

16 April 2013 01:28:06

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Was on a roll today - reorganised the Heuchera bed - moved the Heucheras into a group and filled in some more bits and pieces but still leaving room for some of those seedlings in the greenhouse!

Photo of the Bamboos doesn't really show the new planting very well, and the reddish grass carex testacea needs to be divided up and spread along that wall. Should look well when those tiny grasses mature!

Found the perfect place for the Deadly Nightshade (thanks Jas) in the top level of the stepped beds. 

And finally a view along the Gardniiere - as you can see the anemones are already filling most of the bed so will have to try and get some seedlings into plugs. Had a look as one or two but they still have no recogniseable roots.

Much more fun than weeding!!!!!

Oh, and Jas - I put that conifer out of its misery - the pot came away in about eight pieces and you could hear the poor tree sighing with relief! It has a new home near the Buddha Garden.

Now for Round Two ....

14 April 2013 23:37:07

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All the journals today make mention of the terrible gale force winds we enjoyed today and Laois was as bad as everywhere else - that is, until about 6pm. Then the wind eased and the sun came out for a while. Since I was definitely suffering from cabin fever I wasted no time getting kitted out for the garden, then I moved some of the Dahlias out to the greenhouse, first moving the Oriental Lilies into the coldframe.

Then it was back to the Bamboo Garden that needed finishing off. I'm trying a new approach to the problem of camouflaging the septic tank in this area. The Bamboos are really thickening up nicely, and some of the Buddlieas I added last year are starting to sprout. However, I was disappointed with the Nasturtiums last year and I'm a bit tired of them too. So after removing the dead remains of last year's nasturtiums (they will probably come up again but I'll just weed them out or transplant them somewhere else if they do) and doing the normal weeding I realised that the pretty Stipa tenuissima 'Pony Tails' has self-seeded quite a bit here so i lifted the new plants and relocated them where the Nasturtiums were last year. Over time they should make a very effective camouflage but not preventing maintenance to the tank when needed.

I'm also planning to divide up another grass I have in that area carex testacea which has nice red leaves but I think its probably a bit late for this year.

I hope all my little transplanted Stipas survive. If they do it will give a bit of movement to the rest of that area. The Bamboos already whisper in the wind so it will be complemented by the gentle swaying of the Stipa and the Carex. 

So now its official - I've been right around the whole garden weeding and tidying but as you can see from these photos its more than time for Round Two LOL

 

 

All they needed was a bit of heat!

14 April 2013 22:01:06

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All of the Dahlias except one have sprouted now in the lounge - some have a good few shoots and some are just barely emerging. 

The temperature in the lounge is way too hot to keep them in so I've put the ones with decent sprouts out into the greenhouse. The frost heater will take care of them until they are ready for planting out.

The ones that are only barely appearing will stay in the house for a few more days, and maybe the final one will even oblige too :-)

I have their new location all ready for them .... but I just have to be patient ... Oh Dear! Hate having to wait :-(

 

Self-seeders

13 April 2013 21:53:20

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I seem to be totally seed-obsessed at the moment. The greenhouse is bursting at the seams and I'm nursing the seedlings along as best I can ....

Then I was going to tidy up the Gardiniere but was stopped in my tracks. The past couple of years there was a profusion of little seedlings appearing at this time of year and I couldn't figure out what they were. I never left them long enough to see what they actually were. My best guess was that they were Helebores because that is where my most successful Helebore lives but no - they were nothing like the seedling under the other helebores which quite quickly get to look like their parent!

Then I thought they must be some very prolific weed that i didn't recognise - so I ruthlessly weeded them out!

Imagine my delight this year to have the mystery solved - they are Anemone Blanda and they are doing their best to colonise the whole of that planter!

Now for the question - I can see that some of them have their "true leaves" so should be fit to transplant before long but there is such a profusion of seedlings that I'd love to get them spread out all over the woodland area. There are several Anemone Blanda in the woodland already but they are not showing this kind of prolific seeding probably because there is too much bark on that part of the garden. Has anyone propagated these pretty plants from seed before? I'd love some hints .....

 

Balmy evening

12 April 2013 23:23:35

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Got home from Dublin about 4.30 and since it was such a lovely balmy evening I couldn't resist going out to the garden - nothing like it to get rid of the city tensions! I find that when i have only a short time in the garden I seem to manage much better - even manage to keep going at a task and get it finished!

I had made a start on the shrubbery the other day but didn't get it finished so today when I ventured out I was all set to get that bed finished - I'm feeling good because I've almost got to the end of the first Spring round of all the beds - only a little bit of weeding in the Potentilla Bed and a tidy-up of the Bamboo Garden and it will be time to get cracking on some plants that really need moving before they get growing on me!

This bed is still quite waterlogged most of the time so last year I transplanted some Hostas here. They haven't shown any sign of sprouts yet, and the blackbirds seem to have stripped off the soil - or maybe it was the rooks in search of their roots - so I dug around them and earthed them up a bit. Having weeded the rest of the shrubbery I gave all the shrubs a bit of a feed of chicken manure and loosened  up the soil so the whole thing looks pretty good now. Of course, the daffs really liven up the bed this time of year!

Not quite like Jacinta's

12 April 2013 22:40:24
Signs of life

Signs of life

Brought the dahlias in from the greenhouse after reading journals about other people's starting to sprout. I had them watched away for the past week, but today I had to be away all day and guess what I found when I came back? Yes, some very tiny shoots! Out of about a dozen plants eight have signs of life! Am I chuffed or what!

However as you can see from the photo - not quite ready to compete with Jacinta yet LOL

And when the rain stopped ....

11 April 2013 21:29:21

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Ventured out to the greenhouse this afternoon for a bit but it was only spilling out of the heavens and even in the greenhouse it was chilly and damp so after about half an hour I had to admit defeat and come indoors. All that actually got done was to water the seedlings which are still showing signs of promise. I have no real belief that they will actually grow up and be REAL plants - maybe if they succeed I'll be more confident next year!

So I spent the afternoon indoors doing much neglected household chores, even cooked up a nice meal - must have been bored :-) Then about 6.30 in the evening out came the sun! Without delay I headed out with the camera and was really pleased to see how the rain ahd freshened up the whole garden. 

Had a bad moment the other day when I saw that the stream pond was very low in water, of course, suspecting a major leak however my fears don;t seem to be realised - I had let the pump running overnight by mistake so I reckon that some the the "redesign" of the stream by my recent little visitors may well be the cause! Will investigate later!

 

Going Potty

09 April 2013 23:09:18
Bulging at the seams

Bulging at the seams

Have you ever noticed how we seem to be taken over by a mad frenzy of seed planting as soon as the sun appears in february? The inevitable result of all this frenzy (unless none of your seeds germinate) is that about now you are faced with the daunting chore of moving all these hopeful little seedlings on. 

So when Brendan's granddaughters were here one of them made a good start by potting on the Cosmos "Purity" so yesterday I took up the challenge!

I'm taking a new approach this year - actually read the instructions on one of the seed packets properly - and they advise pricking out as soon as the seedlings are bit enough to handle - in previous years I waited until the true leaves had appeared and ended up with leggy plants that were very slow to mature.

The Schizanthus & Cerinthe i moved on a few weeks ago are all looking promising so I'm repeating the process!

Latest were Brachsycome Iberidifolia (Swan river Daisy), Mecanopsis Paninculata, Papaver Orientalis, Nicotiana Alata, and last but not least, Solanum Lactinatum. I'm particularly pleased about the Solanum because these were my first ever saved seeds!

Net result is a greenhouse bursting at the seams - and I haven't gone near the ones in the propagator yet!

Once the weather improves I'll be able to move some of them out to the coldframe but until the frost is gone I'm afraid to risk it.

I also potted up some Oriental Lilies - they are all up. Do they need to go outside soon? I thought I might keep them in the pots and bury the pots where they will flower.  

Parent and children

09 April 2013 22:23:09

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Taking a stroll around the garden I was struck by these Helebores - the Parent one is in its fifth year - it is in the Gardiniere so hasn't much scope to spread but it flowers at least twice and sometimes three times a year. Two years ago I potted up a few seedlings and two of them were planted in a planter that autumn (really just to fill it up a bit) and to my great delight they produced a few rather small flowers! Last year they were given a permanent home in the woodland area and boy did they like their new home! They thrived! Look at them now - they have been in flower for months and show no signs of stopping! Still some buds to open!

Maybe this prolonged "February" weather has some benefits !!!!!

Sedums sorted

07 April 2013 23:28:38

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I created a Sedum Garden last year, from cuttings and seedlings from my own garden and a great selection of diferent ones from kind .ier friends. It came on very well over the summer and I was very happy with it. 

I have been working my way around the garden tidying and weeding and today I finally got to the Sedum Garden. I love this area of my garden and I really enjoy weeding it (yes, I know, that's really sad!) because I get to be up close and personal with these intrigueing little plants and the weeding is really easy because they are planted in builders gravel - thanks for the tip, Bruno, not to mention the great selection of plants!

I left the flowerheads on the plants over the winter so a major tidy-up was required. I have to say that today was perishing here in Laois - the wind was back to the East again so I was very glad of the skiing gear!

Finished it before teatime so was very happy with the day's work but boy was I cold!!!

It looks all neat and tidy - and there are lots of baby sedums showing already! Of course the sedums are present in other parts of my garden too - I've  used them as edging in the woodland area, and they self-seeded prolifically in the bed below the stream that I call the Inspiration Bed because it is full of inspirations given me by friends from this site so I've just moved them about a bit to make a better display.

Now Spring - would you ever hurry up and get going - I'm tired of waiting to see things growing properly in my garden .... :-(

Happy Hazel!

06 April 2013 22:44:33

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True to my word, first thing this morning the dahlias came indoors!

Had an absolutely smashing day in the garden today! As Dick said, a real spring day with no east wind.  Started off taking a stroll around the front woodlands taking a couple of photos.

Got back to the weeding and clearing again after the excitement of sorting out the Rose Garden last week! And for once, the soil was actually easy to work - my soil is heavy clay so it goes from absolute muck that adds half a ton to your boots to dried-out concrete with cracks and chasms but in between there is a short window of opportunity when it is easy to work and the window is NOW!

I started at the beginning of the year working steadily round the garden, one bed at a time, and had got as far as the Stream Beds when the Rose Garden project took over - so today it was back to that stream area again and it was a real voyage of discovery. This is a new bed which I planted up with gifts from kind .ier friends so the weeding meant that I was getting up close and personal with lots of new plants. Fortunately most of the plants still have their labels, and there were remarkably few failures despite the really hard frosts we've been having lately. However there is one little mystery plant with its own lovely white label - totally white - all the writing has disappeared! I'll post a photo later and maybe someone will recognise it :-)

So the whole stream area is now spic and span - weeded, forked over, fed with chicken pellets and watered! Yes, decided it would be a good idea to water in the chicken pellets. This is my first time to use this fertiliser so anyone who has any words of wisdom on its use please pass them on!

Puss was waiting patiently for her supper as it was nearly 7.30 by the time I went  I went in.

Tidy up time

06 April 2013 00:54:17

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My little helpers went home yesterday - but not before we put the finishing touches to the new willow fence! We were short of time at the end so it was a race against the clock! I hope you'll agree that the end result was worth it!

Today I got stuck in and tidied up the compost area so that it doesn't show up the new rose garden when it eventuallly gets going!

First job was to shred up the heap of stuff in front of this year's heap, and then it was the turn of the left-over willow. My two shredders are now living in this area with a waterproof cover - the theory is that it will encourage me to keep on top of the shredding! Watch this space ..... LOL

Then I tried to hammer in a few stakes to keep the pallets in place a bit better - as you might see by the varying heights of the stakes my success was a bit hit-and-miss so next time a more able-bodied visitor arrives they might find themselves handed a sledgehammer :-)

I have some boards that will make fronts for the bays so that the compost can be piled up a bit better. The shreddings were so dry that I had to give the heap a good watering!

O course the roses also needed watering as they are all newly planted, as did the willow fence. When I tried to use the hose located near this area it just fell into about three pieces! Next time I'll buy better quality hose, and take it into the shed for the winter :-(

The Rooks have been trying to dig up the roses so I've put some stones around them to see if that deters them. I did this with some shrubs in the front a couple of years ago - I hope the roses don't object to the weight of the stones!

Oh - and while I was doing this tidying - yes, there was that handy little secateurs under the boardwalk .... and my favourite trowel stuck in a flowerbed .... all safely back in their place in the shed now!

work in progress ....

04 April 2013 09:43:08

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I have some young helpers visiting this week - two of Brendan's granddaughters - so we have been having fun in the garden. They helped me plant somemore of the roses andyesterday we cut back the willows in the woodland areas - so the obvious thing to do was to make a new Willow Hedge - the willow wands were not quite as long as I'd hoped but they will be very pretty when there is new growth as they are that nice reddish orange colour.

Photo 2 shows the purpose of the new hedge - to take the eye away from the compost heaps :-)

Hope to get it completed today before the girls leave!

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