Monday, 26 April 2010

Albert's Garden of Wonderment

I have been concentrating on mine and David's garden for the last week or so. Mostly this has involved grafting various plants / herbs into different parts of the garden. So, we now have a wee herb bed with some oregano, rosemary and mint next to the barbecue; we have forget me nots by the pond; poppies by the conifer and some ultra tentative hollyhocks planted near the fence.

Additionally I have prepared some natty tins with compost for salad, and will try to grow some of our wild strawberries which always have tonnes of leaves but never seem to grow in their current habitat under the privet hedge where it is mostly shady.

We had a large fern which cut a long soil bed in half, so I cut it into five pieces which have been redistributed around the borders at the bottom of the garden. I hope they take. The viburnum is growing steadily as is the mystery tree / bush thingummy I moved from under the conifer last year. There's still a sycamore there too!

The biggest job was weeding. Around the apple tree toward the bottom of the garden and in the long soil bed aforementioned. I spent the best part of one day weeding - and this was only possible due to fabulous musical choice. As an illustration of what I've been caning my ears to whilst in my garden paradise - we're talking : Bill Withers, Miles Davis, Grime, Drum and Bass, Dave Pike, Billy Cobham, Bonnie Raitt, Simply Red - hilarious!, Brian Eno, Jelly Roll Morton etc. It all goes, in some weird sense. It all gels.

Once the weeding was done I raked over the topsoil and planted a combination of seeds - some bought for my Birthday : sunflower and meadow seeds and some given to me by the redoubtable Parsley after the wedding. I then staked the perimeter and lay down £5 netting - £5! CRAZY PAYMENT, making sure to block the gaps in the fence with nice big square bricks. However, can you imagine my unbridled wrath when I saw a feline sprawled out on my carefully prepared seed bed? Happily lolling in the sun. I was happily running down the garden with every intent on cranking open a can of feline smack down. This self same quadruped used to sit on our apple tree of a morning right above a nest, waiting for the mothership to come out. Red mist, then as now! Pure rage. I have never felt so connected to my garden and its welfare.

Let's see how it all goes. Fingers crossed for a prosperous Spring and Summer. Thus far, things are looking very good indeed.

Monday, 12 April 2010

King Smethwick & The Funky Trunk Transplant

I am sad. I have only the wish to keep working on a) Our garden, b) Parsley and Cakealot's garden, or c) The Allotment. Any time apart amounts to a tugging at the navel, basically I just want to be gardening all the time!

Spring is well underway and already hints at the Summer to come. It will be glorious. It is glorious now. It can only get better.

The other day I was helping at the Masters residence. Parsley came over to discuss plans for our back garden, and believe me they will come to sweet fruition this year! More in a separate blog, if it so pleases. Having done that, we headed over, tooled up and started moving a beech / hazel tree. It lay in front of the raised beds at the back of the garden and needed shifting as it was getting in the way. It would be moved to join some bamboo, which eventually will sit behind the solardome. Cakealot and I were pumping pure python power (what alliteration!) into the removal of the said birch. We dug a sizeable perimeter around the tree so we could get to the root ball, occasionally plucking out bindweed.

I kept digging away bits until Cakealot rode in and jousted the tree cleanly from the ground. It took us both to lift it though, through heaviness but also care. It was then wheelbarrowed over to the fence. We then had to grub and mattock a monster root which was planted deep in the ground. P&C prior to the transplant had called in a stump grinder to clear the way. However these roots were deeper still, and needed some serious hacking. Both Cakealot and I were trembling like poplars by the time we managed to dig enough space to snugly plant the tree.

We ate some of Sir Cakealot's eight hour chili for lunch. Dispelling the common misconception that I never eat veg (and after my own admission of the same) I was eatin' them kidney beans like my life depended on it! So, so needed.

Thereafter there was high jinks from King Smethwick who did his annual trick of lying in all the beautiful Daffs, looking regal and naughty all at once. He actually reminds me of a cavalier, with his cheeky little black beard. Other synonymous folk include Frank Zappa! Come on, the likeness is uncanny!

We started to move the soil back into the hole we'd created, so that it could be re-turfed. It was an amazing afternoon, one with a slight hiatus (I had to go and see my GP for stomach related ills), but then back to work after two doughnuts and tea. In the dying hours of the afternoon, I planted varieties of lavender at the rear of the garden. It was a lot of work, like the old times (that is last year). And as ever, I want more. I am sad.

(Not so sad. Parsley came out with another classic mishearing. Dialogue goes like this :

Oregano : 'Haha! Look at that! Two blackbirds fighting mid-air!'
Parsley : 'Plop birds?'
Oregano : 'What?!'
Parsley : 'You said plop birds.'
Oregano : 'No I didn't I said blackbirds. Hang on a minute PLOP BIRDS! [sarcastic and insanely false laugh] Watch out for those plop birds.'

Crazy paving!

Thursday, 1 April 2010

Bastard Trenching & Narcissus Pseudonarcissus

Last week I dedicated a healthy portion of Thursday and Friday to the allotment with Cakealot and Parsley. On the Thursday I was digging a trench around the outside of the plot so the rainwater could drain off properly. How unfit I am. My rapidly dwindling energy left me feeling like a rag doll before lunch. So much so I had a power snooze when I got back. It barely helped! Where was the Greek god physique of last year? Why were the pythons asleep in the grass? Especially when there isn't any grass left?All the same I worked as hard as I could slopping out leaves, mud and twigs to see that precious trickle of water lead to the drain...Immersive.
Parsley and I were also weeding the brilliantly titled cooch grass (sometimes known as Witch grass, Twitch or Quack grass) - the bane of any gardeners existence, along with Mare's Tail. Not so brilliant in that there are still legions of it in the soil. Once we had dug as much of it out as our backs would allow, we raked over the topsoil and Kate sprinkled blood fish and bone fertilizer in preparation for planting the potatoes.Came home feeling like I'd been shot. This is one of the most rewarding elements of working outside. I love the dull ache that sits in my muscles. It feels like VICTORY.

A new visitor to the allotment was a furry flame by the name of Monterey Jack. If I find out in the future that it's a female, rest assured her name will be Monterey Jacqueline. MJ was a strange one, always rolling about, running up to you then legging it. Thus far we have three (garden related) amazing cats - Tad Wilder, Gigasmethick, and Monterey Jack. For your viewing pleasure here they all are in one place :

What a trio!

On the Friday Cakealot started digging some serious trenches for the potatoes. It took me four times as long to dig a trench! Now whilst this wasn't strictly bastard trenching it was a bastard on my back and knees and legs. It started raining pretty heavily so digging became even more difficult. WEAK! However, six - seven rows of tatties were prepared, taking up most of two plots - which of course means us having to dig more and more! We still have plenty of space left.

Parsley planted some of my surplus daffodil bulbs at the bottom of the plot as they'd started to sprout in the bag. Remember my blog of September 13th fame? Well, my daffs have come out but some of them are already dead, which breaks my heart - seriously! However my (now) favourite Narcissus Pseudonarcissus have come out in all their pale glory - I am looking out at them now. I am smiling.