Tag Archives: plants

The garden.

It’s been awhile.

No holidays to write about due to Covid-19. It will be nice to spend some time away, hopefully later this year. However, lock down has a couple of minor advantages. I still go to work but have more time off than usual and I’ve used that to spend a bit more time in the garden doing stuff that I had put off due to a lack of time and not just in the Spring and Summer as I was pruning some trees only a couple of weeks ago. More to do on that as I could only do so much as there is scaffolding up on one side of the house so that work can be carried out on part of the roof. We’re still waiting for the roofers to arrive but first we had constant rain, then it snowed and now the roofing boss man is in isolation after a positive Covid test!

The nice thing about snow is that all the gardens look equally nice:

There was plenty to do in the garden. A lot of shrubs that were here when we moved in 15 years ago had grown triffid like to overwhelm everything nearby. So out they came. Lots of sawing, chopping, digging out of roots some of which were the diameter of my forearms, lobbing branches over the wall into the back garden were involved in clearing them out. Not to mention the rashes on my hands and arms from something or other that irritated my skin. Not sure if it was one of those hairy caterpillars or sap from one of the plants I was digging out.

As ever, once you start something you discover that time has to be spent doing other stuff to enable you to do the stuff you actual want to do. All that shrubbery had to be sorted to make room for me to sort out the beds I wanted to plant up. I have a machine that turns twigs and branches into chips. Unsurprisingly, this machine is called a chipper. It takes stuff up to about 2 inches in diameter so first of all I had to dispose of the larger diameter stuff. Council tips are a good place for this. Again not surprisingly, I managed to jam the chipper with branches that were very slightly too big!

It got jammed several times!

And I can state quite categorically that jammed chippers are an absolute bastard to unjam!

Eventually, after much pulling and pushing and demonstrating my considerable knowledge of the Anglo-Saxon language, the wood was chipped and I could proceed with the plan. Incidentally, I didn’t have a plan. Well, not on paper anyway. Lots of professional gardeners recommend making a plan either on paper or using one of the numerous software programmes. Personally, my plan is in my head. Not the best idea knowing what’s in my head but never mind.

Next up was sorting the ground out. I was working on two projects at the same time. First was to sort out and replant the front garden jungle and the second was to sort out the area down one side of the house that was part of the back garden and only received an hours worth of sunshine each day and looked manky whatever I planted there and basically consisted of a few clumps of grass and several hundred weeds. So first place to start was the bit down the side. As good a place as any. PIL and I had decided that we would not plant anything in the soil there but cover the whole thing with crushed slate and then put pots of flowers in to bring colour to that patch. We decided on blue 40mm slate and off we went to the builders merchant to purchase 30 25 kilo bags of the stuff along with several rolls of a permeable membrane to stop weeds growing through. Steering was a bit light on the way home and my arms were about 2 inches longer after lugging that lot about. I had to have a nap afterwards! The ground was sorted out, weeds removed and more or less levelled. I tend to work on the premise that more or less is fine.

Down went the membrane, down went the slate chips and a little while later I laid (badly) a few bricks at one end to keep the who;e thing secure. I was suitably impressed and more importantly, so was PIL. It was lovely to walk on, it sounded like you were walking on corn flakes. Lovely.

Now for the front. The soil needed to be refreshed and several holes dug. I like digging holes. I got to use the compost that I made. I used a wheelie bin as my compost heap. It was pretty good stuff even if I say so myself.

Once all that was done, I came to the bit I like the best – sticking plants in and getting ny hands properly dirty. Eventually, with a bit of a sore back, aching knees, mucky hands and a dirt smeared face, it was done although there is plenty more to do. That’s part of the joy of gardening for me, it never ends, there is always something to do.

Some of the plants in the photos that follow were planted by me a couple of years ago but I thought I would include them to show the overall effect.

A couple of the Mexican Orange Blossom (Choisya Ternata) in the back garden.

The great thing about gardening is that once you have finished for the day, you can have one or two of these:

I hope you’ve enjoyed a bit of colour in these gloomy, wintery days

Have a fantastic day where ever you are.

More Dick soon.



The not so surprising thing about surprises is that by their very nature they take you by surprise. Some are bad like the letter I got recently informing me I had been caught on camera in Watford on the 30th April at 0657 travelling at 41mph in a 30 zone. A few days later I had another nasty surprise when the Essex Constabulary informed me that on the 12th May at 1243 I had been caught on camera travelling at 58mph on the QE2 bridge which has a 50mph limit. WTF! Are speeding tickets buses now? Nothing for ages then two come along together! I have no recollection of speeding on either occasion.

I have completed my speed awareness course where we covered the laws of physics, watched videos, had discussions on a variety of speed and driving related subjects. All jolly interesting stuff. I think I only nodded off once. For the offence on the QE2 bridge I have paid the fine and had 3 points put on my driving licence. I have informed my insurers who will happily use the excuse to increase my premiums for the next few years. Bummer!

At times like this I like to take refuge in my garden and have a good old poke around, dig some holes, plant some plants, do a bit of pruning and mow the lawn. Even this can have nasty surprises usually in the form of half buried cat shit where you least expect it and, more often than not, precisely where you are using your hands to make a planting hole slightly bigger! Nothing quite like a handful of cat poo to brighten your day or to discover new ways to curse the blasted creatures! Then there are the surprises where things you planned to happen in the garden don’t materialise. A couple of years ago I wrote about how the foxgloves in my garden were doing particularly well and were giving a good show. I said how easy they are to grow and that I just let them seed where they want. I was a bit smug about it. Imagine my surprise when to my surprise (and disappointment) my smugness bit me on the arse last year and hardly any grew at all, just a few straggly specimens managed to make an appearance.

In an effort to escape from the terrible thoughts I was having about the things I would like to do to the inventor of the speed camera and the fecal land mines laid in my front garden by an assortment of neighbourhood felines, I decided to cut the grass in the back garden. Mowing the lawn isn’t my favourite pastime but it’s the kind of mindless exercise I can live with and the end result always looks nice. So I grabbed my iPod, inserted the earpieces and started to mow. The music, the hum of the lawn mower engine, the sound of the mower blades cutting through the grass, clover and daisies allied with the buzz of a stray stone being picked up and spat out at great speed and smashing the kitchen window soon relaxed me and I started having more pleasant thoughts such as what PIL looks like naked. Probably not a good thing for a bloke to be thinking if he has a pair of secateurs in his hand but it’s fine when mowing the lawn. Then, out of the corner of my eye  I saw something that gave me a very pleasant surprise. Along the fence at the side of the garden there is a line of 25 or 30 beech trees. They may be hornbeam but I can’t tell the difference. I cut them back at the beginning of last year so that they are only about 8 feet high and they are turning into quite a pleasant-looking hedge. Birds nest in amongst the branches and lots of creepy crawlies live there and call it home. Well, in amongst the branches, arching beautifully with the weight of flowers was a lovely fox glove.

All on its own.

It looked just simply beautiful. It had white flowers flushed pink.

It reminded me that no matter how hard we try, Nature will always go two or three better and produce something in the most surprising and unusual places. I was chuffed to bits to see that.

There are three things that most people find surprising about our garden although two of those will be changing. First, there aren’t any roses in the garden. None at all. There was one by the front door when we first moved in but that went a few years ago. I understand why people like roses. They often have beautiful flowers, they come in a huge array of colours and some have a wonderful scent. To me though they are just a mega pain in the bum. They are “gross feeders” so they take all the nutrients and minerals out of the soil meaning copious quantities of compost has to be added once or twice a year or you end up with dust. They attract pests, especially aphids and diseases that spread to other plants in the garden and to top it all they rip you to shreds if you so much as touch them. Not for me. I prefer to be able to sit back and admire my garden.

I also get why people like bedding plants or annuals. Instant colour that lasts for months if you dead head regularly. I just think “aching back” and “sore knees” from planting them in the Spring and digging the blighters up again in the Autumn. Not to mention the increase in getting a handful of cat poo while digging them in. That’s changing though. PIL (aka She Who Must Be Obeyed) wants hanging baskets and that means annuals although mixed up with things like strawberries and stuff. She tends to take care of the pots too and does a fine job with them. They’ll be annuals in the pots as well. I don’t mind. It’s our garden and my only objection to bedding plants is the effort involved. I look forward to seeing how that works out.

The other surprising thing about our garden is the absence of the colour orange. Or so I thought. I’m talking the fruit colour here. Goes with bugger all. Clashes with everything. In a gloomy corner of the front garden there is a big clump of what I think are Welsh Poppies. For work reasons, I tend to be away when they flower in May. They’re yellow. Or so I thought. This year they flowered a bit later and I saw them. They looked absolutely superb in that slightly gloomy corner and contrasted really well with the white flowers in the front. (I have no idea what the white flowers are. Planted ’em years ago and I can never remember plant names. Unlike my memory for the collective noun for wombats!!) Anyhow, they looked really good but they were orange! See. Nature did it again. Nothing to do with me. They are staying. Look at the photo and you’ll see what I mean. Smashing!

On that note I must go as it’s getting late. Have a nice day wherever you may be and whatever time it may be where you are.

More Dick soon.



Just Look 3

Oh no! He’s off on one again! Don’t deny it. That’s what you’re thinking but I just had to write this. I could not believe what just happened.

A lot of stuff I see when walking the dog or indeed, just on a normal day-to-day basis, tend to small things. Plants in flower at the wrong time of year, little critters scampering around in the undergrowth, birds catching prey in the distance, so I understand to an extent that other people may not notice. They may well see things I don’t and I’m fine with that. However, today was different.

Once again, despite the rain, the wind and the chill I was walking Dexter out in the boonies. We bumped into a bloke we see from time to time also walking his dog and we walked together for a while. Typically, this bloke was on his phone sending emails I think and he was totally wrapped up in it. No conversation, no looking about, so I get bored and Dexter and I eventually go off in a different direction. While we still all walking along together, I noticed something about 200 yards in front of us just as we came out of some woods into a field. I didn’t say anything because I was curious to see how long it would take this bloke to notice. We got closer and closer and still no reaction from my fellow dog walker as he emailed all kinds of unknown stuff to all kinds of unknown places. It amazes me we get 4G in the middle of nowhere! Dexter woofed at the thing in front of us. The other dog also woofed at it. No reaction. Eventually, we squeezed past this thing and STILL he didn’t notice! I was astounded. A few yards further on I said my farewells and strode off in a different direction. It wasn’t a thing of beauty he missed, it wasn’t a small plant in flower or any kind of wildlife nor was it unusual except that it didn’t belong. I went back later and took a photograph. I think this bloke will soon become a statistic. You’ll see what I mean a bit further down.


How can you NOT see this!

If I ever get to the stage where I don’t notice stuff, any stuff, I want my children to take me to the cliffs at Beachy Head and set me off walking towards the edge!

By the way, the beard’s coming along just fine.


Have a smashing day. Open your eyes and take some time to look around.

More Dick soon