Helen's Garden Renovation Project

Sunday 28 July 2013

Death of a rhododendron

Filed under: Progress — Helen @ 6:44 pm

I am sad to report that the rhododendron that I planted in memory of Dave on the first anniversary of his death has gone to join Dave.

RIP Rhododendron

RIP Rhododendron

It flowered well this year, but then half of it died, so I cut off the dead part hoping that the rest would survive, but unfortunately it didn’t. I will do a post mortem soon, by digging it up and looking at the roots, but my primary suspect is vine weevil. I shall replace the soil and have another go next spring.

The heatwave has broken. Last night we had a good dose of rain, which meant that weeding this morning was very easy – the soil was soft on the top, but still very dry underneath, so it was easy to shake the soil off the roots. I continued to tidy up, and have now measured the area that I will be developing in Phase 3.

One of my log-effect stepping stones has come unstuck. I’m going to get some adhesive to stick it back down again, but I have decided to wait until after this winter in case any others break away from the foundation, because then I can mend them all in one go. I have such faith in my mortaring ability.


Thursday 25 July 2013

Way to kick a garden when it’s down

Filed under: Progress — Helen @ 8:03 pm

As if the garden and the Renovation Project didn’t have enough to contend with during the heatwave, I have cruelly dealt them a blow by signing up for some extra hours at my job as an Information Analyst at Hampshire County Council. The lilies, bursting into bloom and filling the garden with their fragrance, seem to reproachfully ask, “What have pivot tables got that we haven’t?”

Beautiful lily

Beautiful lily which came free with my J Parkers order last year

A pivot table

A pivot table. Unscented.

And how can you compare fat, glossy blueberries with SQL code?


Yummy blueberries with netting in the foreground. This year they are all for me and none for the pigeons.


Some SQL code. Not edible. Or glossy. And probably safe from the pigeons.

Well, I’ve done it now, and somehow I am going to have to keep the Renovation progressing. For the time being I am continuing to tidy up, taking the rubble to the tip every week, weeding, and cutting back the over-enthusiastic shrubs. The next stage is to measure up the right hand side of the garden and draw up a plan – which at least I can do on the train to work.

Here is some astilbe, which deserves a special mention for keeping cheerful during the heatwave.


Astible surviving the heatwave

(Note for any over-zealous taxpayers: I made the pivot table as a joke. I do not do any sausage-related work for Hampshire County Council).


Sunday 21 July 2013

There is no pleasing gardeners

Filed under: Progress — Helen @ 2:31 pm

Last year I spent the whole time moaning about the amount of rain we were getting. Now I am about to start moaning about the lack of rain and the heatwave. The shallow pond is nearly dry, and the level of the raised pond has fallen by at least 15 cm. For Phase 3 to start, I need to tidy up this:

Right hand side, needing tidying up

Right hand side, needing tidying up

This means moving heavy things about, and I could do with it being a bit cooler. I have also been digging up the remains of the grass so that the turves can start breaking down, and that’s very difficult when the ground is so dry. After taking the picture, I emptied the grey bags, which contained nearly-ready leaf mould, onto the top of the turves, which I piled up in the large hole at the end of the lawn area. I need a few trips to the dump to get rid of my rubble, and then I can start working out what I am going to do in Phase 3.

However, I have been much refreshed by the Morello cherries. I ate them all raw in the end. Maybe when I have more time I’ll try cooking them, but they were really very nice as they were.


Wednesday 17 July 2013

Progress in a heatwave

Filed under: Progress — Helen @ 10:51 am

We have had hot, dry weather for two weeks now, and I have been doing my gardening in the morning when it’s cool. Mainly, I am weeding, cutting things back, watering, and tidying up the area to the right of the garden ready for Phase 3. I am also making trips to the tip to get rid of the rubble that I definitely won’t need for Phase 3. I used a lot of slabs from the old paths to hold down compost bags to keep weeds and cats off the bare areas while I was working on Phase 2, but now that most of the area is planted I don’t need so many of them. I have been taking advantage of the low pond levels to get the slime and leaves out of my shallow pond. It is much easier and more pleasant than it was in winter.

Today is the date when I officially lost the Willowherb Elimination Stakes for the seventeenth successive year.

Another victory for the willowherb

Another victory for the willowherb

I also found out that Morello cherries taste very nice raw when they’re thoroughly ripe. And that my blueberries aren’t ripe yet.