22 December 2020

Christmas Arrangements & Burning Ears.

 Hello everyone, hopefully you are all feeling well and looking forward to Christmas. Because of the covid situation Vicki's mum has had to cancel her visit. She was going to be spending a few days with us over Christmas so that's a bit disappointing but apart from that things are going well.

Unfortunately there is a bit of animosity in the village at the moment because it seems that someone has travelled up from London after the covid restrictions were applied and some people have take exception to it. I've not heard of anything official being done about it but if the muttering and chunttering are anything to go by the fire brigade may have to be called to extinguish some burning ears.

I know, I've been letting the side down with the picture posting of decorations. It seems like the more time one has to spare the less time I have to get everything done. Anyway I will redeem myself a little by posting a few pictures all at once so as to get back on track. The pictures tonight are the rest of the ones from the landing window.

18 December 2020

17 December 2020

This Years Christmas Tree.

 As there is to be no more gardening this year I thought I would do a few Christmas posts as Vicki puts a lot of effort in to decorating the house in a number of festive ways so it I think it would be nice to have a record of them. So with that theme in mind I will start with a picture of our Christmas tree to be followed with something different each day until I run out. The tree as always is in the sitting room although we have moved it to the other side of the room this year for a bit of a change.

Today I received my December pay slip which usually contains a bonus for the past years work, this year though there is no mention of it so unless they have something different planned it looks like there is to be no bonus this year. This is very disappointing considering I worked just as hard as ever this past year. No doubt they will say it's because of the virus situation but that's not my fault. Anyway we will see.

14 December 2020

Preparing For Our Christmas Break.

 After what appeared to be a week free of rat activity in the greenhouse I got to work this morning to find a rat caught in the live trap. This is rat number six that I've caught and since the environmental pest control office  came and put poison down there has been a terrible smell of rotting flesh in the hot house so goodness knows how many there were to start with. It's certainly not been a pleasant environment to be in this Autumn not to mention the damage done to plants both through what they have done and from neglect due to not being able to work in there properly. For the first time ever that I'm aware of we have had a proper company taking care of controlling these pests and this has turned out to be the worst time ever for them around the greenhouses. I think the trouble is that the company has been reactive rather than preventative. I told them when they came to look round where the rats go every year but instead of having precautions in place for when the rats arrive they showed up two months after the first ones were spotted which has enabled the rats to get established. But it's the same old story, being a stupid gardener what do I know.

After the rat situation was under control I had to pick up the Christmas tree from the mower shed where someone had left it and take it round to the hall where I erected it in the entrance hall. The family will decorate it when they come to stay for Christmas.

Most of the rest of the day was spent in the potting shed potting up Sweet Pea and Scotts Pine seedlings. I wanted to get these done for the holidays so as to avoid any damping off problems should they arise. The Sweet Pea were ready for potting on anyway as their roots would soon have been tangling together.

11 December 2020

Broad Bean Planting.

Back at the beginning of November I planted some Broad Bean seeds in pots which have come on well to the point of now needing to be planted out which is what the head gardener and I did today. I also had a few Spring Cabbage plants so I popped them in next to the Beans. The soil is very wet which meant I had to work off a plank of wood and remove any foot prints with a fork before the job was finished.

To protect the cabbages in particular from the wildlife I covered both with some mess. Also in the picture you can see what is left of last years cabbage patch.

To finish the day off we cleared some leaves up from around the potting shed, it was one of the little jobs I wanted to get done before I finish work on Tuesday evening as that is to be the last day of this year for us. We are taking a well earned break. We've only had four days annual leave since last Christmas so I have plenty of days to take a long break.

9 December 2020

More work On the North Front.

 As promised in the last post here are some pictures of progress from work on the North Front. I won't put the before pictures on again in this post as they are only in the previous post so is easy enough just to go back and forth if you wish to compare.

In this first picture you can see where I have reduced the Holly trees and cut back the rose that was climbing through them. It was a shame to cut back the rose but it needed to be done in order to repair the wall that is in danger to falling down. There were actually stones coming out as I was working on the rose.

This is another angle and a closer look. I don't like the way the far Holly has turned out but there is not much else I can do other then cut it right back and start again. I'm hoping it will improve with time and some regular pruning. None of it wants to be allowed to grow up as it was apart from the rose but even that needs some careful training.

This area of work is a big improvement. There always was a little path up the side of the rose border but it was overgrown and lost to time. Now as you can see it has been reinstated.

Here is the view from the back looking towards the front of the house.

This is another angle. Here the way is partially cleared, I just had a bit more work to do on the shrub.

This is the finished article. After the cutting back I had to find some edging stones and fixed in before laying a bit of gravel. I just need to fork over the rose bed when the soil dries out which won't be until the new year now.

3 December 2020

North Front Pruning Work.

 This week we have been busy doing some work on the North Front. We spent two days cutting back a rambling rose and some Holly trees, all of which have grown out of control. The main reason for the pruning was so that repair work can be carried out to the wall at the back of the border as it's in danger of falling down. It's proved to be quite a job and even though I knew it wouldn't be easy it was more of a job than I thought. Anyway that is all done and the rubbish disposed of.

Today I managed to get the roses in the North Front rose border pruned and the rubbish carted off before the rain started which is another good job taken care off. I would like to get the soil forked over some time too but I think things are going to get a bit wet over the next few days.

The Holly trees and rose due to get a pruning.

Another view of the cutting back job.

This is another little job I want to get done while in the area. There is a little path that squeezes down the side of the rose border but it has become over grown with this shrub so it too is getting a trim.

A view from the back.

The head gardener reviewing the work to be carried out.

27 November 2020

Invasion Removal.

 I haven't been on here much these past few days due to there not being a lot to report. I only ever go to work or home these days and I have to say that I have got used to this routine now and it doesn't bother me at all, I find it far less complicated. 

Anyway back to the gardens where there is always plenty to be done. This week has been mostly leaf clearing and also more work in the Rose Garden where I gave the final rose bed a good clear out as it was slowly being taken over by an invasive plant.

We removed it all, took out any weeds and gave the whole bed a good forking over.

There was quite a lot of bindweed roots which I dug out the best I could but I'm sure you know how that goes, some always seems to get missed and other bits hide under the roots of other plants so no doubt it will put in an appearance again next spring.

I've found over time that Bindweed can be controlled to some extent by hoeing but to succeed you have to go round every week and chop it off below ground and gradually it gets weaker through lack of light, it's important not to miss any. 

Below is the Rose Garden finished off completely, all forked over and ready for Spring.

19 November 2020

Cabbage Patch Tidy Up.

Today we have been doing a bit of work on one of the veg plots. I haven't done anything with the veg garden for a while now so it's in need of some attention in certain area's. There is nothing really hurting and it looks worse than it is, never the less it's getting time to start getting it back under control. So today we cleared what is to be the cabbage patch next year. When I say cabbage patch I mean anything in that line of veg such as Brussel Sprouts, Cabbage, Broccoli.

As you can see things are looking a bit overgrown.

After clearing the weeds we roughly dug over the plot.

Yesterday I cut and swept the greens so had a mix of leaves and grass cutting on the sweeper so I spread these out over the surface of the soil my idea being that it might be something for the worms to feed on as I've noticed that where I add grass cuttings to the soil there are always a lot of worms to be found so hopefully this will help them. I wouldn't do this if I was going to be sowing seeds in the bed as I think it might cause problems but I only ever plant in the cabbage patch as the sowing is usually done indoor in pots. I'm also going to add a thin layer of manure to this to feed the soil and secure the leaves, I think this should prove to be a nice mulch for the coming year.

I have a rat problem in the greenhouse at the moment. I caught one in a live trap a few weeks back but I know there is another one because I can smell it, also it keeps on digging in the plant pots and knocking them over. I have two traps in there now but it keeps avoiding them so I've added a different sort of trap tonight so we will see how that goes. Reluctantly I am also now leaving poison and locking up the greenhouses so that only I can enter until the situation improves.

18 November 2020

Forking And Mowing.

 Yesterday, as it has dried up nicely we decided to do a bit of forking in the rose garden. It helps to tidy things up plus its another job done that will help us come the Spring as it will make the soil easy to work when we have to do top dressing and weeding.

Below is a picture of a partly forked rose bed.

Another job we were able to get done because of the dry spell that we've been enjoying was to cut the lawns in the walled garden. I only went over them with the tractor as I didn't want to cut them short. It was simply a matter of cutting off any long patches and tidying up the appearance. I'm wanting to remove the cutting deck from the tractor and give it a clean up etc. but the grass is still growing so I will have to leave it attached for a while longer as I don't want to store it away for the winter only to need it again in a few weeks time.

The main lawn in the walled garden

17 November 2020

Pruning The Poets Wife.

 One of the jobs yesterday was to prune the Poets Wife roses in the front garden. I had thought of clearing up a few leaves yesterday as the trees are mostly clear of them now but it was quite windy so I thought I would probably lose control of them if I started moving them around. Anyway we did a good job with the roses and another one less to do. Below are the two rose beds of The Poets Wife roses, the head gardener is on hand to offer advice should it be needed.

Also yesterday I removed some of the rubbish from last weeks work in the rose garden. I would usually clear everything like that up for a weekend but there is no one around these days so I couldn't be bothered rushing round trying to get it done on Friday as I felt it was more important to get all the roses pruned. On the way over to pick up the tractor and trailer I came upon Tess trying to organize a tennis ball. Well she loves riding in the trailer so I loaded her up and took for a ride to the rose garden. But that's it once we arrive she loses all interest in the garden and wants to return home so as it was break time by now we all went for a coffee.

Below Tess is shouting at me to get going, she is very bossy and impatient, I can't get going fast enough for her. Thankfully she shuts up once the wheels start rolling.

15 November 2020

Rose Pruning In The Rose Garden.

 Thursday and Friday last week I managed to get the roses pruned in the rose garden. It's something I like to try and do at this time of year mainly because it reduces them in size therefore I don't have to worry about the wind bashing them around all winter. I could sort of give them a half prune and then give them a proper pruning in the new year but I don't fancy going over them twice and I have to say that I've never had any trouble caused by pruning them now and in actual fact I find that they will get going earlier by pruning now. I would like to get the beds forked over as well if I can but we will have to see about that as I have lots of other work waiting to be done at the moment.

I've heard reports that they are going to be starting work on converting the old stable block into accommodation for the bed and breakfast soon, probably in the new year now so that should be something to keep an eye on.

11 November 2020

Reclaiming The Steps.

 Today we have been tidying up this little corner of the courtyard. Mainly it involved trimming and removing Ivy from the steps that lead to a loft in the tower. The Ivy had grown part way across the steps and also underneath them so we gave it a good trim and got it back under control.

I used to trim this Ivy once a year but as with the borders I was doing earlier in the week the job got neglected because someone else decided to take over so for a number of years now nothing has been done with it.

After the Ivy trimming we tidied up the little border with the conifers in it which wasn't a big job, it was just a matter of removing a few weeds and trimming a couple of small Box bushes. The head gardener is telling me that it's time to go home, he's had another busy day both with gardening and keeping an eye on his mate Radley. Radley is a West Highland terrier who lives across the courtyard from us and sometimes he runs around the place like a naughty lamb therefore has to be rounded up. So what with watching him and watching me Timothy - Michael has had a busy day.

Tower Cottage Border Work.

 This past couple of days the head gardener and I have been tidying along the wall by Tower Cottage which is in what is known as the Courtyard. The border has been neglected for the past few years because at one point the people who rented the cottage took it over which was fine until they left and the next people never bothered with it so I am going to reclaim it because it's making the place look untidy. So below are some before and after pictures of the work we have done. We also do various other jobs throughout the day as well just in case you are thinking it's not much to show for two days work.

The wall you see in the first picture was completely overgrown with Ivy, we took all this back a few weeks ago so this week all we had to do was the border work. This involved forking out all the weeds, putting a new edge to the lawn and various bits of pruning. Also the tennis ball needed rounding up from time to time.

The head gardener inspecting progress, I think he seems quite pleased with what we've achieved.

There was a Holly bush that had been planted to close to the two shrubs at the far end so I moved that up to this end of the border. 

The head garden is taking a break while I take the pictures.

9 November 2020

Pictures From A Foggy Garden.

Over the weekend we have been having some days when the fog has never cleared so I thought to take some pictures of the gardens in a different light. I prefer to see the gardens on nice sunny days, it always seems to look so much better but it's not summer and won't be for some time so I have to embrace what I have at the moment which seems to be lots of mess and decay.

The view above is of the garden house taken from the front garden. There used to be a couple of tall conifer trees set in the gravel area but they were removed a few years back, I preferred it when the trees were there as it added a bit of interest.
This is quite a nice little tree in the summer with it's bright green foliage, I would tell you what it is but I forget. It's not something I'm familiar with so I wrote the name down somewhere and have now forgotten where.
This thing is in the Japanese Garden, I'm not sure if it's meant to be a pump or something but it's purely ornamental these days. I have the Ivy rooted through the spout, sort of like symbolic water pouring forth.
The above was taken from down by the stone masons grotto which is quite a nice little area between the Japanese Garden and the Rock Garden.
Here we have a Japanese ornament mimicked by a clipped Yew. It's a bit of a strange carry on really because neither are actually in the Japanese Garden. 

8 November 2020

Lifting Dahlias And Tidying.

 One of the jobs last week was to lift the Dahlias from the Memorial Gardens. These are called Border Princess.

Once lifted I knock as much soil from them as I can by banging each tuber on the ground a few times. Some people like to wash them off and what have you but I don't have time to carry on like that and besides which I have never had any problems from doing it the way I do.

When they are as clean as I can get them I load them in to crates and stack them on flower trolleys in the potting shed. I just leave them as they are, I don't bother to cover them with anything unless a very hard frost was to threaten. They just sit there until planting time next year. Sometimes if there is a variety that I need to increase I will bring them out in January and pot them up and bring them on in the greenhouse so that I get shoots to take cuttings from.
After the tubers were all lifted and stored away I dug over the beds, I like to do this as it tidies everything up for the Winter also it makes for easier planting next year. Apart from the Dahlias you see in these beds I also have another border in which the tubers have been over wintered in the ground For the past few years. I've found this to be alright up to a point. The thing is we haven't had any hard Winters for a while so I can't say what would happen if we did and they were still in the ground. Also I have found that some varieties cope better than others which was obvious this year as some varieties have been lost completely where as others have not been lost at all. So for that reason I have also lifted these tubers as well.

After all the Dahlia lifting and storing I just had time to tidy the two rose beds in the Memorial Garden. This involved pruning, weeding, edging and forking so that everything is in good order in the Memorial Garden for the Winter.