E7 Gardening: Ups and Downs

It’s a bit quiet on the house front at the moment as we’re between jobs, and are just planning which next room to take apart. It’s funny, you have weeks where the dust annoys you, but when it stops, you’re like…hmm, we should be making dust again! When shall we next make a new building site?

In the meantime I’ve been trying to turn my attention to the garden. As you might know, I’m not the most green fingered, but I am trying. Since my epic B&Q trip a few weeks back, the weather has been unpredictable to say the least. We had one week of intense heat, and then nothing but rain, and then a dramatic plummeting of temperatures.

Some of my plants have faired okay, (despite the influx of snails)…but not my thyme. It’s been looking sorry for itself for a week or so, and just when I was considering bringing it inside, it seems to have completely given up the ghost. The other pots are doing okay, but the poor thyme. See exhibit A:

pots progress
Sad looking bottom left pot

I’m not sure what happened? I think perhaps the drop in temperature was too much for it? In other better news my Rosemary is thriving (far right pot). That is obviously one hardy herb that I can get behind.

A surprisingly nice thing in a different part of the garden, and which has pretty much nothing to do with me, as it was already in the garden when we arrived, is that this green plant (of which I don’t know the name…) has developed very nice pink heads. It had sort of creamy green heads in the summer, and now they are bright amongst the autumnal colours. But, for how long?

Pretty in pink & the makings of a rockery.
Pretty in pink & the makings of a rockery.

My lawn, over the last month or so, has become friend to many, many weeds. So, yesterday I took out the Weedol and started spraying viciously. I’m pleased to say my revenge is working. This was starting to look sad (or happy) when I came home today:

Take that
Take that

A few more sprays and then…*evil laugh*

So, there are some ups, despite the death of the thyme.

There is one very big down unfortunately.  Our garden is directly below an overhanging walnut tree. A very tall, very large walnut tree which we can’t reach ourselves to trim. Here’s exhibit B:

My enemy
My current enemy

You know, it looks nice enough, it doesn’t completely block out the sun, and eventually we will get ‘a man in’ to cut the overhanging branches. But for now, you go out into the garden and hear a sound. You can’t quite place it. Is it someone doing some work in their house? Is it a child nibbling on some particularly noisy nuts? You hear a rustle in the tree above and then suddenly, a bunch of walnuts, or should I say walnut shells come tumbling into your garden. Like this:

The aftermath
The aftermath

You look up to see a squirrel peering down to see what has happened to his spoils. You have a stare out until one of you gets bored (normally me) and normal service resumes.

Repeat about a hundred times until your garden beds end up looking like this:

Walnut graveyard
Walnut graveyard

It’s a becoming one of those things that is bothering me. This week I’ve also started to see the same squirrels BURYING THEIR NUTS IN MY LAWN. I mean, come on. I know they’re preparing for winter, and I feel for them, but I’d also like not to have my lawn dug and re-dug over and over again.

In order to mow my lawn, I need to spend about half an hour first raking up all the walnuts. And only to turn your head and see a new load of shells appear.

*Sigh* I’m fighting a losing battle. Save stringing a large net across the garden to catch the debris I am out of ideas.

When is walnut season over?

Outdoor lights

We have picked and installed our external lights! And our electrician is one day away from being finished inside now. Progress!

For the front, we didn’t want anything fussy or too traditional, but it had to fit with the Victorian house obviously. We picked this Deck Light from John Lewis:


And here’s a picture of it in situ (strangely hard to take photo of):

Not the best photo but...
Not as good as the professional photo…

In the back garden, we also wanted something simple – and not too ‘hotel/spa/bar-like’ if you know what I mean. Again John Lewis came up trumps here and we ordered two of the following:

Garden Trading Company Barn Outdoor light
Garden Trading Company Barn Outdoor light

And here is one in its place in the back garden!

Just at the place where there must have once been a window
It looks better in the flesh.

Good to have these up and working, particularly now the days are getting shorter. Despite the 27 degrees today, it was almost dark by 8pm.

Sigh. Goodbye summer.

Autumn Garden prep

We moved here in July, and, despite me attacking the garden with shears, chopping back everything I could with the hope I wouldn’t kill it and pulling up loads of weeds (mainly all just to reach my washing line), I hadn’t progressed much with it I must admit.

And then, suddenly, it was nearly the end of the summer, and I half thought: do I just wait now till Spring?

Apparently not. According to the INTERNET now is the time to prep your garden for the colder months and plant things that you a) hope won’t freeze b) hope won’t get eaten by slugs and c) hope will come shooting up to cheer you up at the first sign of Spring. I have had some, but not much, experience with gardening up to now, but that was pretty much just pots on a balcony (but hey, one year, somehow I managed an almost excellent tomato crop) – but from my limited knowledge I knew there were plenty of things I could do now for the autumn.

Armed with Google’s finest list of winter plants, and a helpful companion who KNOWS about these things, we hit the wonder of B&Q.

Here’s what I ended up with:

Flower Haul
Plant Haul

Rosemary & Thyme (top right) – are hardy herbs that should survive winter I found out. I also got: Heather, for some of my empty border patches, Cyclamen (bottom left, pink) which will flower through autumn, Winter Pansies (same), Viola and Dianthus (the top white small flowers) which are basically just pre-ety, but also great for pots, plus also a Sedum, for my rockery(ish) area.

What you don’t see underneath here is also a lot of bulbs. I must have bought at least 50 or 60 bulbs. Tulips! Daffodils! Hyacinths! Snowdrops! Many other things I have already forgotten the name of…! The thing with bulbs is you do need patience. I have happily stuck my bulbs in pots and around the flower beds, and I have no idea what I planted where really, but hopefully come next Spring I will have a surprise…that is, if the damn squirrels don’t dig everything up.

I spent most of the afternoon grafting with compost and topsoil and pots and trowels but suddenly my empty pots are looking happy again, and I felt a sense of satisfaction:

Better than a bit of mossy patio eh?

Now I just need to remember to water them.

And hope we don’t get a frost. I never thought I would become one of those people that worried about getting a frost.