Helen's Garden Renovation Project

Wednesday 20 February 2008


Filed under: Progress — Helen @ 9:17 pm

We have had a spate of extremely cold weather recently, although it is now gradually getting warmer again. Saturday night was the coldest of the year, and on Sunday morning I noticed that there was steam coming from my compost bins! I know compost heaps are meant to generate heat when they decompose, but I thought that was just for proper gardeners, not me. It does seem unlikely that the compost heaps were able to sustain any sort of chemical reaction in such cold temperatures, so I am not sure why this happened. Still, it was quite interesting. I took some photographs to see if the steam would show, but it didn’t.

It is half term this week, which has given me some time to do things to the garden. I have cleared away a good number of dead leaves and pulled up some weeds. The place is looking very much better now. My fingers do get cold, though, even with good thick gardening gloves. Today I did some warming work – digging up the grass in the area where the greenhouse will go. At some stage I will have to take up the path, but I am not sure how to do that. I think I may need a new toy called an angle grinder. But I will try my crowbar and hammer first.

There has been a surprising absence – or near-absence – from my garden this year. I seem to have very few celandines. In fact, I only found three, which I squirted with glyphosate today. Perhaps I am a bit early to be looking for them. I have never yet succeeded in eradicating anything from my garden that I didn’t want, so I don’t think I have managed to commit total genocide against them, but I am hopeful that I have reduced their numbers.

Here are some pictures of my lovely hellebores (Orientalis). It is quite hard to take pictures of hellebores because they are so droopy and close to the ground, but I did my best.
Pink Hellebore

Purple Hellebore/


Saturday 9 February 2008

A victim of my success

Filed under: Progress — Helen @ 4:28 pm

It has been quite a rainy January, so I could blame the weather for my lack of progress, but the real reason is that there has been an enormous demand for my services as a maths tutor. I have hardly had a spare moment. This is excellent news for the greenhouse and new pond fund, but not good news for the progress of the Garden Renovation Project.

However, I did go out into the garden at last this afternoon. I removed some dead leaves, pulled up the bittercress, and checked to see if everything was still alive. The osteospermum has produced a flower, and my primulas are still going strong. The yellow crocuses are out but not the purple ones yet. My snowdrops, which I bought cheaply last year after they had finished flowering, have not really done very much. One of them has put out shoots, but the others are still hiding. Maybe they don’t like being in pots. The soil is extremely soggy, so maybe they are too wet. Or maybe it is just that I am about as good at growing snowdrops as I am at growing large-flowered clematis.

Usually the demand for maths tuition increases steadily from now on until June. I don’t want to turn people away unless I have to for lack of space, so I am going to have to formulate a Garden Maintenance Plan until I can do some more Renovating in July after the exams. I am thinking of planting some half-hardy annuals in the place where I grew annuals last year. The reasoning is that I can keep squirting the area with glyphosate until the end of May, thus removing the need to weed it, and when I plant the half-hardy annuals, they will be relatively big and therefore will compete with the weeds on more than equal terms. Well, we shall see.