Archive for category Garden and Wild Life
This time last year we were still in France and had got as far as house hunting online for our move back to England. For various reasons, some related to Mr. Tialys’s work commitments which have only became apparent since, it appears we made the move at the right time.
So, Easter in England for the first time in sixteen years was a lovely warm and sunny surprise and I was sufficiently moved to leave my sewing room and go outside to help the gardener (aka Mr. Tialys) with some outside renovations.
You might remember me telling you that the previous owners, in a bid to outwit the ground elder, had buried untold quantities of black plastic – some ‘proper’ stuff, some pond liner and some old plastic compost sacks!! – all pinned down with hundreds of plastic pegs. For the most part, this was all covered with gravel and sometimes pieces of wood. In some places although, to be fair, mostly those places not planted up decoratively, there are old house bricks, spare ceramic tiles and paving slabs.
This, for instance, is part of the bank above the fish pond.
Mr. T. is on a mission to remove most of the plastic and gravel and says he’d rather deal with the weeds than see the earth being choked with the plastic, some of which is breaking up into the soil. Here he is revealing the soil on the bank. Ground elder roots – and there are plenty – are being drowned or burnt.
Just the start of the eventually huge pile of plastic and the wooden planks, etc. that were laid haphazardly on top, for some reason best known to the previous occupants.
Even this old sawhorse had been pressed into service, folded flat and laid on top of the bank – now rescued and ready to be used for its original purpose.
Perhaps they didn’t like going to the tip/dump.
Stan and Flo were helping by staring plaintively until one of us would relent and throw the frisbee for them.
(for Sandra – spot the old rusty plough we brought back from France with us)
As I was in the garden I was able to
nag advise on where to place the gargoyles which had been languishing and looking grumpy up by the garage since we arrived
Now this one already looks as if he’s been atop that wall for years.
This one has swapped the side of a swimming pool in S.W. France for a fish pond in S.W. England and, personally, I think he looks happier in a gargoylish sort of way, unlike Mr. T. who nearly did himself a damage by carrying it there from where the removal men had dumped him up the other end of the garden.
This area to the side of the driveway gates was also covered in plastic and gravel and is now cleared and ready to be planted up maybe with rose bushes.
The greenhouse is very much not my domain – I am only invited in at H.M. the Gardener’s pleasure to ooh and aah at the various things in pots that he’s sewn from seed.
I like nasturtiums. They remind me of a time long, long ago (or the Stone Age as one of my daughters calls it) at primary school when they used to give (sell?) us a little a packet of candytuft or nasturtium seeds to take home and plant in a pot and take it back to school at a set date where, if you had been successful, you would get a pretty coloured certificate. I never got one. We lived in a first floor flat in London and neither of my parents were gardeners of any description.
Just a little memory I thought I’d share with you there for no good reason.
Outside again – there’s a pretty flowering currant.
We’re not sure what fruit tree this is – any ideas?
So, today has clouded over a little. Maybe I’ll get my bathroom shelves put up but I’m not counting on it.
I might get the drill out, wave it about inexpertly and ask where the rawlplugs are – something that has worked a treat in the past 😉
After last month’s exciting dog feeder in a kitchen drawer, I’ve yet again got to hand over to Mr. Tialys for the March edition of Scraphappy where new things are made from scraps.
Now that he has a more manageable garden to oversee, he’s rarely out of it when he’s not in endless Zoom meetings for work. He’s always loved a good compost bin and, despite the fact we now have a fraction of the garden waste we had at the French house, he apparently needs a triple one to go alongside the plastic ones left behind by the previous owners.
Is it possible to have a compost bin stash?
Anyway, you might remember that the previous gardener had spread black plastic mulch pretty much all over the place and covered it with gravel to ward off the dreaded ground elder and, along with some strange garden ‘ornaments’, scattered quite a lot of random pieces of wood about the place too.
All this was grist to the compost bin building mill. Apart from the garden ornaments that is.
Remember this one?
Well, shortly afterwards I stumbled across his evil twin and, a few weeks after that, as if they were breeding during the night in some sort of B movie horror, a third one.
Hopefully that will be the last of them.
So, as well as the odd wooden pallet….
and other planks in various stages of dilapidation, all used for cross pieces,……..
there was what looked like the makings of a wooden pergola stacked behind the garage.
With unseemly haste, and without consultation, these were mercilessly sawn into the requisite sizes to make the main supports for the new bins.
We don’t need a wooden pergola – apparently 🙄
Then the leftover netting from making the garden dog proof (hopefully!) formed the back and sides with some of the ubiquitous black plastic stapled over that to create a large bin in three sections.
The fronts have been left open for ease of ‘turning over’ – a technical gardening term that I believe means forking all the gunk over once in a while to mix it all in. Apparently, some sort of Heath Robinson adjustable frontage will be constructed that will be moved up as the amount of composting material grows.
Speaking of which, we have much less grass now which is ,apparently, a very important addition to compost heaps. This is mostly due to having less land than before but also to having a rather large garden pond in the middle of what would be the lawn. So, Mr. Tialys has gone begging for grass clippings from anybody nearby willing to empty theirs into a bag for him.
But, that’s not the worst of it. The other day I spotted a large sack on our driveway and went to investigate. In a gesture that might be considered abuse in some neighbourhoods, it contained a significant amount of fresh horse poo. Mr. T. was almost as excited as the dogs were when he saw it but did complain it ‘wasn’t well rotted enough really’ although he used it anyway.
Ew! Is it any wonder I leave the gardening to him?
So here, in the furthest corner of our garden (thankfully), is the compost bin stash in all its glory made from scrap wood, scrap plastic, leftover netting and scrap poo or, as I prefer to call it, horse scrap 🤣.
Scraphappy Day is organised by Kate & Gun for anybody who wants to make new things from scraps of any kind – doesn’t have to be fabric or yarn. Here’s a list of participants – both regular and occasional – if you want to have a look at the sort of things you can do with scraps.
Contact Kate (first name on the list) if you want to join in.
Birthe, Turid, Susan, Cathy, Tracy, Jill,
Claire, Jan, Moira, Sandra, Chris, Alys,
Kerry, Claire, Jean, Jon, Hayley, Dawn,
Gwen, Bekki, Sue L, Sunny, Kjerstin,
Vera, Nanette, Ann, Nancy, Dawn 2, Noreen,
Bear and Carol
Even though we’re still in lockdown the sight of banks of daffodils can’t fail to cheer me up.
But there’s more!
It’s Spring and time to let the new lambs into the fields,
So of course I was off with my camera like a shot.
Some tiny ones with their proud mothers.
I’ve had a word with the farmer about splodging them with blue as it spoils my photos but he said I just had to try to get them from their good side.
I think this one might be one of the first born as he/she is a bit chunky.
I wonder how long it will take me before I get used to living in a house in the midst of fields of new born lambs and stop acting like a tourist. Possibly forever.
I can’t wait until the calves arrive!
What’s putting a spring in your step at the moment?
If any more proof were needed of my sudden interest in bird watching, I present these woefully bad (for the most part) photos taken from my kitchen windows of the garden birds we were counting as we joined in with the R.S.P.B.’s* annual Big Garden Birdwatch which took place this weekend. It’s the world’s largest bird survey and has been running every year since 1979.
I thought of using better photos (i.e. other people’s) but where’s the fun in that?
Watched over by one of the many rooks who roost in our oak tree and fill the fields beyond, we had to count the birds actually landing in our garden for one hour, logging the amount of each species seen at one time, rather than individuals, for more accuracy.
The wildlife charity encouraged people to take part to help “lift spirits” in the latest lockdown, after a survey conducted for the charity revealed that watching birds and listening to birdsong have helped people during the pandemic.
Great Spotted Woodpecker
My favourite – the blackbird – looking right back at you.
I treat my favourites to mealworms – this is the sort of woman I’ve become.
A pair of Collared (Lovey) Doveys
Robin – you knew that though didn’t you!
A Great Tit cracking open a sunflower seed
A Blue Tit feasting on the remains of the peanuts the previous occupant of our house left for the badgers.
A Dunnock who was a willing poser.
Make sure you get my best side.
Goldfinches – the biggest guzzlers of the sunflower hearts.
Long Tailed Tits who always seem to come mob handed.
So while I was inexpertly pointing my front heavy be-telescopiced lens camera out through slightly smeary windows and trying to capture the proof, Mr. Tialys and Miss Tialys the Younger, were noting down the figures. Sometimes it was frustrating because there are often wood pigeons in the garden as well as crows and starlings but none landed within our chosen hour of 10.15 – 11.15 so we couldn’t add them to the survey. Also, we often get loads of goldfinches together at one time, but again, we only saw two at the same time within the hour so that was all we could submit.
We had fun anyway – it was something to relieve the ‘every day’s the same’ feeling I’m thinking a lot of people are starting to experience lately.
So – what was the score for the *Royal Society for the Protection of Birds survey?
The largest amount of each species spotted together that landed in our garden between 10.15 and 11.15 a.m on Sunday, 31st January.
Long Tailed Tit – 8
Rooks – 8
Chaffinch – 4
Sparrow – 4
Blue Tit – 3
Great Tit – 2
Blackbird – 2
Collared Dove – 2
Jackdaw – 2
Robin, Coal Tit, Dunnock, Pied Wagtail, Treecreeper, Goldfinch, Great Spotted Woodpecker – 1 of each
We kept the cats indoors!
Are you finding your usual pursuits just aren’t doing it for you at the moment and doing things you wouldn’t normally do to lift your spirits or are you relying on tried and trusted methods.
‘How many kinds of decor can go
In an English country garden
I’ll show you now of some that I know
and a few you might find hard to pardon’
(with apologies to the original 18th century folk song ‘In An English Country Garden)
In part one, I gave you a glimpse of some of the ideas put into play in the garden by the previous owner of our new house. Mr. Tialys is less than enamoured by the use of the black plastic mulch and gravel everywhere but he has since seen signs of the dreaded ground elder so at least he understands why she might have gone down that slightly ugly road.
She also had some weird and (sometimes) wonderful ideas about outdoor décor and I’ve been having fun seeking them out in nooks and crannies all over the garden.
I’ve always wanted a weather vane and this one on the garage roof is appropriate considering we are in an area with much horsey business going on as they stable and train racehorses in this area.
That one was easy to spot but the rest have been placed in semi-hidden places around the garden and I’ve been, by turns, delighted and astounded (!) by some of the choices.
I’ll leave you to decide which ones evoked which reaction,
Which one is your favourite? Would you give any of them
house garden room?
I’ll give you a heads up and tell you that the last one is my favourite but that’s because we brought him with us from our garden in France much to the annoyance of the removal men because it weighs a ton.
One thing that has taken me by surprise now I’m back in England is that the days are so short- like my memory apparently seeing as I lived here for most of my life before my French adventure. It’s not properly light until gone 8 in the morning an,d it’s almost dark by 4 in the afternoon, even on a fairly sunny day like today. The days in France are also shorter in the winter obviously but, maybe because the weather was generally much better where we lived, the daylight seemed to last longer.
So, even though it was a relatively bright day today my photos of the garden don’t really reflect that.
As Cathy (of nanacathy blogging fame) did when she moved house earlier this year, we are looking at the garden and wondering what the changing seasons will bring. Some things are obvious but I’m sure there’ll also be some surprises.
This massive old oak tree rules over part of the front garden and is often full of huge black crows but there are smaller birds in residence too, lots of blue tits, blackbirds, wrens and we’ve seen two types of woodpecker up there too. A pair of binoculars has suddenly appeared from who knows where. I’ve become a twitcher – who would have thunk it?
The former owner, perhaps in a moment of madness, had two ponds built.
This is the large one and is full of fish. Also, the pond plants look as if they will be glorious come Spring/Summer.
Spot the badger trail leading down to the pond from the field behind.
Apparently,the pond is so well balanced she never fed the fish nor needed to mess with the planting so, hopefully, it will be low maintenance.
This is the smaller pond which has no fish but apparently has frogs and newts at the appropriate time of year.
It’s tucked away in a corner of the garden – I’m imagining a bottle of wine and a couple of glasses completing this picture in the fullness of time.
Mind you, a bigger surprise than the short days – well, shock really – is the price of wine. Lordy! I’ll have to cut back my consumption of the fermented grape or do without food.
Some things in the garden seem a bit ‘niche’ – I’m being polite here. The little hedge planted for no apparent reason and the shale path that leads nowhere will have to go (says Mr. Tialys).
Something else that will have to go is most of this black plastic stuff – stop me if I’m being too technical – I know it keeps the weeds down but it also keeps other things down and it looks a bugger (says Mr. T.).
Indeed, he has already made a start and uncovered some rather nice looking soil – but then we are used to soil full of rocks having lived in the foothills of the Pyrénees.
The empty greenhouse awaits
as does this ex-chicken run which was more recently put to use for growing strawberries.
Anyway, anybody would think it was me going to work my fingers to the bone in this new garden, Not at all. I might pull the odd weed, prune a rose and dead head a daff from time to time but anything involving spade, fork or shovel is not my forte. I would say it’s because fault would be found with anything I did in the garden by the head gardener but, although that is true, it is also a very good excuse.
I’ll just go off down the lane with the dogs for my exercise instead, dodging the horse poo and general mud – how I’ve missed hosing the dogs down after walks and wearing wellies. I have some rather dapper shiny black ones although it’s actually hard to make the colour out after five minutes of ‘mud, glorious mud’.
More in Part 2.
Well, we’re here at last.
Physically moving from France to England during lockdowns in both countries was actually easier than I would have supposed although it wasn’t without its ups and downs in the preparation stages!!
So, instead of seeing this view in front of my house
I’m now seeing this one
Fair exchange is no robbery as they say.
We’ve still got a lot of settling in to do and our internet connection is not yet sorted so I won’t be as visible in blogland as I usually am for a while but I just wanted you to let you know that mission has been accomplished.
Thank you so much for all your good wishes in the comments on my last post – they were much appreciated.