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A (fairly) full day ...


Got up this morning at 7am, by 8.30 I was out in the garden, determined to do something substantial – the sun was out and the air was still and warm. Started out with usual gear, joggies, sweatshirt and bodywarmer (more for the many pockets than anything else, but I do like my back to be well covered). After a little while, the body came off; little while longer, exchanged the sweatshirt for shirt and joggies for shorts (had to rummage at the bottom of the “won’t need those for ages yet" stack) and the shirt for a sleeveless one.

Took all the plants out of the greenhouse, including the small pots at the back (the front as far as sunshine goes): I’d forgotten that I had the sedum; they seem to be doing well:

Still got three roses, four more didn’t survive:

No idea what these are, or even if I bought them or found them in the garden when I moved in; no idea if they’re what’s normally counted as a weed, but if it’s growing, I’ll give it a go:

Got rid of four dead lavender; cut the dead bits off three more that still had some greenery; don’t know if they’ll survive.

I sieved most of the soil to reuse for inert filler at the bottom of large pots, put the rest in the composter until that was full, then had to bin the rest. While I was sweeping up after that I found that some “kind” neighbour had left me a present: there were piles of cigarette ends all over a patch of paving and part of the bed near the lounge windows: I had rubber gloves on, and picked up two double-handfuls and there’s still more scattered about. I finally printed off the note that I’d been hesitating to put up from previous episodes (several times I’ve found empty cigarette packets and lemonade bottles in the garden, plus, once, a still-sealed pack of Tesco Pork Luncheon meat): “Would whoever keeps throwing their rubbish out of the window please save up and buy a bin? Empty fag packets and lemonade bottles are bad enough – piles of dog-ends are really too much. Thank you! Frances [no 3]”

Got rid of one definitely dead mini-conifer: moved the other three to the large table – now the dead lavenders are gone, managed to fit them in. Again, no idea if they’ll survive:

By this time the plant tiers on the small tables were half empty, so I thought I’d carry on: I’ve been wanting to put another screen up on the fence, it was shifting all the plants that was daunting me. Moved the rest of the plants to the worktable:

I had a plastic sheet over most of the two small tables to try to protect them a bit; it was a mess, so took it off, and so were the tables under it. So time to scrub ‘em up …

The left-side table had been annoying me for some time: the back leg on the inner corner was lower than the others, so the tables weren’t on the same level. Decided that, as I’d come this far, I’d have a go at levelling it a bit more – which meant I first had to move all the stuff that was under that table:

Which meant I now had nowhere to move the table to or room to move it even if there had been space, so in the end I put it on the other table – which means that, when it’s time for that table to be done, I’ll have to put it on the first one which will mean having to work into a corner, unless I can clear some space in the meantime.

When I’d started to garden, I’d put some edging strips around the beds so that I could raise the level – didn’t work but there was now too much dirt in there – I’d thought about levelling the soil and putting some of my salvaged wood down to stand the tables on, but the soil level was now above the paving and I’d have had to raise the front legs by that amount – or decrease the soil level to level with the paving. Dug out half a black bin liner of dirt, then had to stagger with it to the block bins (praying it wouldn’t split!), as I’d already filled the composter to the brim – besides, if old potting compost was inert, the rubbish soil in the beds was clinically dead!

Didn’t have any strong rubbish bags, only the see-through flimsy ones; found an old compost sack that I’d been saving for heavy-duty rubbish, half-filled it and staggered out to the bins with that – this time I emptied the sack into the bin so I could reuse it (one advantage of block bins is that no one knows who dumped what unless you’re actually caught in the act!)

On the way back in I checked my sign: someone had proved they owned a pen by writing “bollocks!” on it, incidentally also proving that they didn’t own more than three working brain cells.

Still so much to do, but reckoned that was enough for one day. I’d tried to pace it, stopping to make a cuppa, have a smoke and rest my back: also got out my folding camp armchair and had a sit out. Even with vest top and shorts it was very warm, but wasn’t ready to take off anything more!

I started at 8.30 am – finally called it a day about 7 pm – sat down and just couldn’t face getting up again. I’d had several rests, or rest-breaks, at least, but even so … for the past few days I’ve had a cough that won’t shift, and it’s been making my ribs ache with the coughing. Fell into the shower, which helped, then finally thought about food: I’d forgotten about breakfast and lunch, so didn’t eat until 9pm.

Still only done about half of what needs doing – if I can level the dirt, maybe I can sink the table legs in enough to level the tops, and use the wood between the legs to raise the pots etc a little – but there’s nothing there that’d get hurt by getting wet. That’d be a damn sight easier than trucking more sacks of dirt out to the bins, and trying to level the wood scraps – I want the tables to tilt slightly, so they’ll shed water and pots won’t be standing in puddles, but if I could get them both at the same damn angle it’d help – won’t have to prop pots up that are half on each table.

Oh, I am aching now – and I don’t normally feel the full effect of physical exertion till the day after, so heck knows what condition I’ll be in tomorrow. Maybe I should’ve marked Ostara by meditation and chilling out, but there’s something healing about worshipping by action …One thing’s for (fairly) sure, it’s definitely going to be an early night tonight. Maybe …

Oh, and in between times I worked on my new screen: I’d had the idea a while ago, but wasn’t sure how to assemble the pieces so that they could be hung to best effect. Think this blog is long enough already, I’ll chuck that in another one.

More blog posts by franl155

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Well, you've had a busy day! I hope you do not suffer too much tomorrow.
Your blogs always make me smile. They are so honest and refreshing. Good luck with the rest of your renovations. One thing's for sure - you are never short if an idea, Fran.

23 Mar, 2012


thanks, Ojib! ideas I'm good at - doing something about 'em is another matter ... The garden looks like a tip, it can't stay like that, so hopefully I won't be too stiff tomorrow - and even if I am a bit, exercise will sort that out (she said with her fingers crossed")

23 Mar, 2012


Gosh you have worked so hard! You have some lovely plants to display when its all finished so it will all be worth it. You mustn't forget to eat though - no wonder you were tired!

24 Mar, 2012


Brilliant Fran, your garden is looking really good. You keep juggling to keep plants going it's definitely paying dividends.

24 Mar, 2012


thanks Stera and Sev. Prob is, I bought plants because they were there, not because they were the right type or shize for the space. I'm trying to be more selective in future - and your evergreen plant list has given me a lot of pointers, Sev!!

24 Mar, 2012


But I'm sure you love them all, the misfits. Glad it's of some use Fran.

24 Mar, 2012


lol yes, each is my child, and I love them all.

There's someone on eBay selling dwarf evergreens, I need to check what they've got against your list, or at least the items on your list that I've already put in my own "maybe" list

24 Mar, 2012


Let me know what you think might like from that seller I can have a look and see if it's a good deal.

24 Mar, 2012


thanks love - basically I'm looking for/at dwarf or miniature conifers - various forms, colours and habits, some scented would be nice. Very vague, but I need to go through the "maybe" list and refine it to maybe half a dozen for starters.

I was looking for slow-growing and mature height under three feet - even if it takes 20 years to get there and someone else will have to deal with it by then.

One website I found said that hte difference between "miniature" and "dwarf" was how fast it grew: if it were less than x inches a year, it was a mini (no matter how tall it would eventually grow); more than x inches, it was a dwarf.

Is this right? I thought the difference was one of scale: a mini would be smaller than a dwarf, not just growing slower, but growing less in height and spread as well. I've got the link somewhere, along with several hundred others that I need to sort!

24 Mar, 2012


Oh Fran you are a busy bee! Shame your neighbours dont help you, have had an idea, could you provide and I mean cheaply a fag end tray for them? Do you think they might use it? It could be an old pottery saucer or something similar, my neighbour brought a nice rounded pot and half filled it with sand and that is her kids 'ash tray', it looks nice on her patio and the kids do use it!!! I have just purchased some 'slow growing' conifers for my front garden and they look lovely. I will grab the list and let you know what variety they are Ok.

24 Mar, 2012


gosh you have been busy Fran, i feel tired reading this haah, im going to get started this weekend for sure, i keep saying it but dont get it done, so no more slacking here, thing is we all over do things when we start and end up in pain somewhere so little at a time this year for me lol :o))

24 Mar, 2012


Right Fran here we go:
1. Juniperus squamata 'blue star' has deep blue foliage in winter and silvery in summer. max height 40-60cm in 10m yrs. Hardy
2.Juniperus media 'gold coast' a semi prostrate conifer with golden yellow foliage max. height 30-60cm in 10 years. Hardy
3.Juniperis squamata 'blue carpet' low spreading conifer with silver-blue leaves. max height 30cm, spread 1.5m. in 10 years. Hardy
4.Chamaecyparis lawsoniana 'minima aurea' dwarf bell shaped conifer has bright golden yellow foliage. Max height 60cm spread 30cm. Hardy
Have planted this lot this week along with some small hebes and I am very pleased with the new look!

24 Mar, 2012


Thanks for the conifer list, GM, I'll check 'em out and add 'em to my "definitely maybe" list.

The rubbish is coming from someon who lives here - there's no way any passing public could be doing it. Beyond the row of gardens is a green that has no access, and flats beyond that. Someone in one of the flats directly above me is deliberately chucking stuff out of the window - wish I knew which flat, I'd report 'em. It might not be something as light as an empty lemonade bottle or empty fag packet next time!

There was a tall neat conical heap of dog-ends, not thrown in one at a time - it was more like someone had tipped a full ashtray out of their window. Wish I'd thought to take pics. If it happens again, I will.

Maybe I should report it to the council anwway: they might put up some netting to stop anything actually coming into the garden from upstairs. Doubt they'd be able to catch whoever's doing it but they might be able to stop it impacting on me - perhaps literally!

lol Sanbaz, I know that feeling! had it often, and it don't get easier to shake off. I was just in the mood yesterday, and went for it. I didn't get an early night, but when my head did find the pillow didn't take very long at all for me to start with the zzz's. Woke up aching, but a kind of general all-over ache, arms, legs, body, which made it sort of easier to deal with - it was the ache of honest toil, lol. did some more today, not as much or for as long, but progress all the same.

24 Mar, 2012


Oh Fran you really are a tonic, you`ve really given me a laugh with all the moves from one table to another I thought you were practicing for rubic cube, but you always get there in the end. I know what I would like to do to the blighter that keeps depositing the fag ends - and it wouldn`t be giving him/her an ashtray.
Take it easy not to much at one time.

24 Mar, 2012


Did a lot more table-shifting today; trying to level the ground enough to get the tables properly stable, with a very slight tilt towards the back to shed water. Not succeeded so far, even though I must have moved one table back and forth about a dozen times.

I'll have to get rid of all the excess dirt, level the ground completely, then take a bit more off for the tilt. That'll be a few more sackfuls to shift, but it'd be a damn sight easier in the long run than constantly moving dirt back and forth.

I went out a while ago to get some milk - and saw that my signs had been taken from the notice boards of both entrances and taped to my front door; I'd pinned them up, so the moron obviously wns a bit of sellotape as well as a pen. Gonna take a pic once my camera's recharged and report it to the council.

24 Mar, 2012


You had a very busy day Fran...I was exhausted reading all about it. It all looks great.
Neighbours eh!!!! The best thing to do is report it. You should be able to feel safe in your own garden. If I were you I would also say that something did hit you and tell the council you want some action taken before it gets more serious!!

24 Mar, 2012


The problem is finding out who's doing it.

There is the person two floors above me, who for 18 months kept me awake all night five days out of seven because her TV was on all night at full volume: I was told that she has dementia and doesn't know what she's doing, but her daughter arranged for the carers to take the TV remote control off her when they put her to bed.

If she didn't know what she was doing then ... but that might be a case of give a dog a bad name and then hang it. I don't *know* that it's her.

I was checking my very early photos for some reason that I can't now rememember - in one of the troughs of pansies is a cigarette packet, so it was going on even as far back as 2010 - at least I've got a photo of that as proof!

The other thing to think about is shielding my garden from any future occurences. I'll ask the council to put a screen up, but it'd have to be a pretty fine screen to stop dog-ends!

24 Mar, 2012


Sizes of conifers are really just what they do annually, nothing more complicated. That's the 'speed', that's the height in 'x' years indicator. You obviously don't want the 8-10-12+" leader pushers. That's the sign it will be a big tree. All of the conifers you will come across will be on google images. I've used that whilst in GC's to see pictures and get descriptions. I can guide you to the 'minis' in every species of conifer. They are the 'less than' dwarfs class, and you could expect them to only put on 1-2cm a year.

24 Mar, 2012


oh, bless you, Sev! tha'ts what I want, slow growing - and a couple of cm a year is sure that! I don't know of any garden centres around here that are easy to get to: I'll have to print out a list of "probables" in order of "want-ness" and take it down so they can help me go through it.

You look online while you're in a GC?? lol having a phone connection would make that easy, or finding somewhere to open up the laptop.

Or, of course, I could look online! at least then I won't have to get 'em home. But I would like to go and see them and look them over and pick the one I want for myself. Maybe once I've got a list assembled I can get to a larger GC

24 Mar, 2012


The majority of mine came from mail order. The good thing is they charge a flat rate for up to certain number or weight of plants. You could get 8 minis for £13-15 postage. If you planned well that would be your entire conifer collection in one go.

I have interwebz on my phone contract.

24 Mar, 2012


that sounds awfully good, Sev! I MUST go through my links and saved "wants" and make some sense of them!

No point doing anything precipitate at the mo: got the garden to sort and that'll take a while to get how i want, ie ready for new plants. But I can at least do the pre-prep.

25 Mar, 2012


Nearly missed this one Fran, gosh you had a busy old day, I feel like telling you off for not eating and wearing yourself out but I am guilty of doing exactly the same thing on a very regular basis and have done for years, so I guess I`d better not aye..
You have a fair collection there, its amazing what you manage to incorporate in your space and all the moving and shifting about must be quite frustrating at times, yet you keep at it Fran, its obviously bringing you a great deal of satisfaction.
Not really a lot I can say about the attitude of your neighbour, some folk are just nasty like that I`m afraid, I hope you get the shrubs and trees you want, I have no doubt you`ll find something that suits.....

25 Mar, 2012


thanks, Lincs - it's a long-established habit here, too - prob with living alone, if I had someone else to cook for I'd cook for myself too (lol or more likely get them to cook for me). And they'd be handy for the heavier physical stuff. But there is a deep satisfaction in looking at it and knowing that I did it, all of it, all on me tod - and no one else is offering "helpful" suggestions or supiervising-"managing" me and generally geting on my nerves!!

Most of the plants are from Lidl, or what I salvaged when DITO closed - I'd never get this many in if I had them all on the ground, much less *in* the ground - so much more space to work with in three dimensions - once I get the plant stands set to my satisfaction and I can have the tiers as I want them, rather than as they are now.

Seems to be a basic rule of communities, sigh: there's always one nuisance in any block! just a shame that they happen to live directly above me.

25 Mar, 2012


Just reading this puts me to shame. I want to go and have a lie-down! I'm far too much of a coward to do anything about litter-louts after I passed a comment on someone who was just emptying her bag of rubbish in the middle of Manchester Arndale centre. I thought she was going to attack me and she followed me for ages, screaming obscenities. Just call me a silent coward from now on, ashamed of myself though I am. You're a braver woman than me, Fran.

27 Mar, 2012


I'd probably be as hesitant about challenging someone in public - in fact I am! times I've wanted to say something to someone littering, or being anti-social in other ways, and have passed by in silence. One never knows what reaction one might get - and if they're anti-social enough to do it in the first place, they'd have fewer inhibitions than the rest of us.

*s* I don't know how much immunity my white stick grants me! maybe I'd get away with more because of it, but I still don't really feel like putting it to the test.

I did hestitate about putting my flat number on the note, but I don't like "anonymous", even if it is often the better part of valour. When I opened my front door the day after, someone had taken the notes from both notice boards and taped them to my front door, This time I took a pic before I took them down, so I can prove that there's at least one moron in the block.

I did some more work Saturday and Sunday, had a bit of a day off yesterday (handyman finally came and finished my walk-in library) but it's nearly 9 am and the sun's shining, so I'm thinking of wending my way outside for another session - or not, of course!

27 Mar, 2012

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