Helen's Garden Renovation Project

Thursday 28 October 2010

Nearly ready

Filed under: Progress — Helen @ 4:11 pm

I have had a busy week and not much time for gardening, but today I attached some wire netting to the fence.

Netting placed in front of damaged fence panel

I realise this is probably the most boring picture in the whole blog, but I do like to have pictures in my writing, since there is not much conversation to be had with plants. The netting is very tough, and I have attached it with screw-eyes and wire to the fence panels either side (that way, I don’t have to screw in more eyes when the fence panel is replaced). It is possible that the foxes will damage another fence panel to get in and out of the garden, but I hope that they will jump on top of the compost bins and make their exit that way, thus not causing any damage.

After I had drawn my chalk lines, it rained, quite heavily. All the Tesco chalk was washed away, but the lines made with my tailor’s chalk remain. It must be different chalk.


Thursday 21 October 2010

Measure seventeen times, cut once

Filed under: Progress — Helen @ 3:54 pm

The weather has got a lot colder – it was below zero at eight o’clock this morning – but still very dry. I got fed up with my dressmaker’s pencil because it kept breaking, so I bought a box of 10 sticks of chalk from Tesco for 45p. They break too, but not into such tiny bits. I have been drawing lines on the patio to work out where it should be cut. I think I have nearly decided what should be done.

Patio cutting at the centre where it meets the lawn

This is where the bottom left hand corner of the lawn will extend into the patio.

The line going through the right-angle of the triangle is just a construction line and not to be cut through. I will rub it out before my landscapers start up their angle grinder.

Patio cutting at the right hand side of the patio

This is where the patio will be cut to make the right hand border

A mystery has been solved. The hole in my fence, which I first noticed in January 2009 (see Fence damage), was almost certainly made by a fox. I saw a couple of foxes yesterday, running backwards and forwards across the back of my garden, and one of them dived through the hole into next door’s garden. I am going to have the panel replaced when I get the pond and lawn edging built, but I think it would be a good idea if I put some netting across the panel now to try and discourage the foxes from using that route. Otherwise they may just make a hole in the new fence panel. Ultimately I am going to grow some pyracantha up the panel, but that will take a few years.

My pelargoniums don’t seem to have noticed this morning’s frost. I am quite happy for them to continue in blissful ignorance. In September I took cuttings as usual, but only three. I didn’t take them as badly as I usually do, and they seem to have all survived so far.


Friday 15 October 2010

I feel it coming together

Filed under: Progress — Helen @ 4:52 pm

We are now having a dry spell, so I have had a couple of long stints in the garden. Yesterday I moved most of the plants off the patio and tarpaulin. Some are standing around the pond.

Plants around the pond

Some are standing around the greenhouse.

Plants by greenhouse

Some are standing on the old path by the side fence.

Plants by side fence

And there is now hardly anything left on the patio.

Hardly anything left on the patio

The plants in front are the pelargoniums, which I will keep until the first frost. The other plants are six thuja, the buddleia, the magnolia, the pieris, and the largest of my rhododendrons. They would be very heavy to move elsewhere, and I think they can be slid out of the way when the works start.

So that was what I did yesterday. Today I did some more surveying. I checked the measurements I made this time last year, and was pleasantly surprised to find that they weren’t bad. Last year I used a large folding 45 degree triangle. This year I used Pythagoras and the Cosine Rule. The triangle obviously did a good job. I also used masking tape on the patio. I am not sure whether this was a good idea or not, so I also used a dressmaker’s pencil which I bought from Allders for 75p before it went bust. I started working out where the pond was going to go. The plan says the pond has to be most of a 3m square, which I thought was scarily big, so I thought about having a 2.5m square instead. But when I marked out the pond using the raspberry frame struts which I had saved in case they came in useful, and reminded myself that the walls have to be 30cm thick so that they can be sat on, 3m didn’t seem so out of proportion after all. And I will have big shrubs near it, like the eleagnus and rhododendron. I will put my measurements into my carefully drawn plan on graph paper using Excel, and see how it looks there. And if it wants to rain tomorrow, that’s fine – I am too stiff and achey from all that plant and tape measure moving to be up to any more practical work at the moment.

Where the pond will go


Friday 8 October 2010

Hedges are still hard work

Filed under: Conifers,Progress — Helen @ 4:03 pm

We had lots and lots of rain but now it’s time for a dry spell, so I finished off planting the hedge.

Hedge Part 2

The second row of four thuja plicata, all planted

I am now much better at planting big trees than I was last week. It was still hard work, but much less effort than last time. Yesterday I planted one tree in the morning, and the other two in the afternoon. I gave them a bag of compost each, and borrowed some soil from elsewhere to fill the hole. It is now apparent that I am going to need a lot of soil to get the level back up in this area. I need to take it from some area of the garden that isn’t relevant to the next phase of the work.

The Hedge Part 1 has grown well.

Hedge Part 1

The first four thuja that I planted two years ago

As you can see, both hedges are just beginning to reach beyond the top of the fence. I found it strange that the trees kept in pots should grow just as fast as the trees planted in open ground. However, the trees in the pots are not yet pot-bound, so perhaps the restriction of the roots hasn’t had any effect yet. Also, the trees in pots probably got more light than the ones behind the greenhouse, which are hemmed in by the fences and the bay tree. And the trees in pots may have got more water, although I was careful to water the hedge whenever it was hot and dry for a few days at a time. I fed the trees in pots more than the hedge too.

These thoughts about the growth rate are not just of academic interest; I have to decide what to do about the middle section of the hedge. Although I would like to let the replacement trees grow a little bigger before I remove the middle four Leylandii, I am afraid I will not be able to plant them if they are 7 ft tall. I am thinking that the best thing to do would be to remove the Leylandii in March and then plant the six replacement thuja as soon as the ground is warm enough, before they have had a chance to grow any more.

I also now have to face my miscalculation about the number of thuja needed. You can see from the picture below that there is a big gap between the left-hand edge of the hedge and the blue conifer.

Hedge Part 2 in context
The second part of the hedge with the gap to the left

I think I need another thuja to the left of the hedge. I thought about using one of my mature specimens and buying a small replacement to go in the middle section, but I think a tree that is much smaller than the rest would stand a better chance if placed at the end of a hedge rather than in the middle. So I think I will buy a replacement and put it in this autumn if I can get it soon enough.

 The heavy rain and winds have not been good for my sedums. Poor things.

Sedums flopping

My sedums after being rained on a lot