Helen's Garden Renovation Project

Monday 25 August 2008

Locating the greenhouse

Filed under: Greenhouse,Magnolia,Progress — Helen @ 7:49 pm

I keep reading that this summer is very wet, but after last summer, my idea of what a wet summer means has been radically recalibrated. Yes, it has rained a bit, but I have made a much better job of keeping on top of the weeds than I did last year, because I have sometimes had a chance to go out and pull them up. And I haven’t had to do much watering of pots or of the new planting in the communal areas outside my house, so I am not complaining. I have bought a Vulkan Tennis Elbow Brace from Amazon (is there anything they don’t sell?) and that has allowed me to carry on weeding and pruning in reasonable comfort.

Not only are the weeds being pulled up, but progress, although very slow, is being made. Here was my plan of February 2007:

(1) Get the air conditioning unit moved. DONE.

(2) Get the side passage paved over and remove posts in far corner where greenhouse will go. DONE

(3) Install water butts. DONE.

(4) Buy and assemble tool store. DONE apart from needing a shelf.

(5) Put tools in tool store and tidy up garage. NOT DONE YET.

(6) Order greenhouse and get it installed. NOT DONE YET.

I can now refine the plan as follows (the tasks do not necessarily have to be executed in the given order):

(1) Remove the four Leylandii trees at the right-hand end of the hedge and replace with Thuja plicata. This is part of my plan to renew the whole hedge in three stages.

(2) Work out where greenhouse is going to go.

(3) Tidy up garage to make room for greenhouse. This may involve getting another tool store and putting a shelf in the existing tool store.

(4) Order greenhouse.

(5) Dig trench for cable.

(6) Get quote for work to lay base for greenhouse, put it up and wire it up to the mains.

(7) Get work done.

Today I trimmed some branches off the Leylandii that are going to get dug up, and worked out where the greenhouse is supposed to go. To avoid copyright problems, I have redrawn the part of the plan that deals with the right-hand back corner of the garden and here it is:

Plan of garden showing where the greenhouse will go

I stuck four bamboo canes into the ground at the corners of the square enclosing the octagonal greenhouse, where the four pairs of dotted lines meet in the plan. Here are two photographs. The first is taken looking towards the back fence, at a slight angle so you can see behind the bay tree (the big green shrub at the right of the picture).

Greenhouse location looking towards the back fence

Greenhouse location looking towards the back fence

And this one is taken looking from the side.

Greenhouse location from side

Greenhouse location from side

You may not be able to see it from these photographs, but there is a slight hitch in the plan. The bay tree is growing where the arch is supposed to go. The greenhouse cannot go any closer to the back fence because I need access to the compost bin in the corner, and because there needs to be access to the hedge to keep it trimmed. I have been thinking about my options.

(1) Murder the bay tree and put the greenhouse and arch where the plan says.

(2) Keep the bay tree and move the greenhouse further away from the side wall so there is room for the arch.

(3) Keep the bay tree and don’t move the greenhouse, but put the arch somewhere else, or don’t have it.

I don’t want to move the greenhouse, as that will reduce the space I have for growing vegetables and will result in wasted space between the fence and the greenhouse where nothing will grow. So I have to decide whether I want an arch or a bay tree next to the greenhouse. The bay tree is one of the few mature shrubs still remaining in the garden, and I am inclined to leave it where it is, and then see how it looks next to the greenhouse. On the other hand, if I am definitely going to get rid of it, it would be a lot easier to dig it up before digging the trench for the cable. And it is rather big. Although I definitely want a bay tree (I use its leaves in cooking) I could manage perfectly well with a smaller one grown in a pot or restricted space. I don’t actually have to murder it: I could cut it right back and prune its roots and stick it in a pot, just like the magnolia (which still seems perfectly happy – see the first of the two photographs in this post) or I could dig up one of the small offshoots near its base and plant that in a pot instead. One thing is for sure – despite my guilt at dispatching a healthy and beautiful plant, it will be heaven to chop it up, with that gorgeous aromatic scent from its leaves.


Wednesday 13 August 2008

The wanderer returns

Filed under: Progress — Helen @ 8:46 pm

All right, I’m not exactly a wanderer, although I have been on a week’s holiday since the last post. It’s just that the longer I left it, the less I felt like writing a post. Also, I wanted to move the blog from its original home in hmptuition.com because that domain is meant to be for work (maths tuition), and I didn’t want to write any new posts until I had completed the move. And so on, etc.

Anyway, I have achieved some small but noticeable progress this summer. I have at last got myself a shed. This shed was delivered in March, but then I had to paint it before assembling it, according to the instructions. And I did! Really. I painted each side of everything with two coats of Ducksback in red cedar and it took ages. Then I looked at the feasibility of putting it together, and decided that I needed some help, so I rang up a nice man who lectures in carpentry at a local college and got him to come round with his bag of tools. The job took three hours, which is surprising when my neighbour said that two men who came to erect her big shed did it in twenty minutes. Well, I suppose they were specialists. The result is rather nice-looking.


My new tool store

I now have the pleasant job of deciding what to put in it, and whether I want to buy another tool store: a taller one that will be able to house longer things like a rake. I also have to think about security. The new shed has a padbolt, but it is not very secure because the burglar just has to unscrew the screws to get in. In a few years’ time this won’t matter because the screws will be so rusty that no one will be able to shift them, but that doesn’t solve the problem now. I may take the padbolt off and fit it with something with concealed screws, like a hasp. For now, I won’t put anything remotely valuable in there. I am also wondering about whether I should put chemicals in there. The temperatures are likely to be more extreme in both summer and winter than they are in the garage.

One reason I needed help with the shed is that I have tennis elbow. I had thought this was not a particularly common injury, but so many people I have spoken to have said that they or their husbands have had it. It’s always men. So far I am the only woman I know who has had this injury. I think I got it through weight training, which I think is unfair because I haven’t increased the intensity of my training for many years. My neighbour (not the one who employed the jet-propelled shed erectors) is a pharmacist and when her husband got tennis elbow she looked at the evidence-based research and found that the only thing that works is rest. So I am resigned to not doing too much pruning and weeding, but I have been rubbing some voltarol gel into my elbow in the hope of benefitting from a placebo effect.