I have a number of self seeded holly bushes in the garden. I looked up how to move holly bushes today because I have an idea. I am going to move the small ones from their various random locations to make a sort of screen for the building. They are evergreen and pretty and vigorous. Perfect for screening a building.
I have an answer! My piles of branches are going to be chipped! I can hire a chipper!
After I looked up more about how to burn garden waste in an incinerator, I realised that the smoke is produced mainly by green wood – which is mainly what I need to get rid of. I can’t burn it, because it would drive all the neighbours mad.
Yesterday I was out along the railway paths towards Leith, and I saw loads of wood chips where the city parks department have been using some of the recent tree falls to best effect, and a light bulb popped on in my head.
Last week I bought a ‘value range’ pair of loppers from the garden centre, for a measly £12. I thought probably at that price they’d be a bit rubbish but I’d be able to decide if they were a useful tool, and maybe invest in a good pair once they broke. (I have a theory about buying tools for new activities and hobbies. If it’s new, don’t buy stuff. Once you’re invested in it, then you’re ready to invest money in it.)
Amazingly, my £12 loppers are really good. I can cut through live and dead wood up to about 3cm diameter. I have made piles and piles of branches. The garden is light and airy. Well, in the one area that I have managed to tackle.
Now I have a new challenge. What should I do with the piles of branches. There’s a lot.
We looked online last weekend at those dustbin type bins with holes in the bottom that you burn stuff in. What are they called? Garden incinerator.
Amusingly (worryingly) the first three pages of search results were all people asking if it was legal, people moaning about it, people saying it was legal, and people moaning about it. So now I have this concern – if I get a garden incinerator and burn the cuttings, will my neighbours be really annoyed and will this mean they are less clement towards me and my tinkering with the garden.
Up until now, I have bothered nobody, barring the business in the basement who I had to negotiate with to get access through the corridor under the building. We’re on good terms, and I want to remain that way. I am happy to share the garden with the other owners, that’s not a problem, but I really don’t want anyone dictating to me how I go about the work. So, I am just going about it myself, and not really involving anyone else, so that I can have my own way! If I start upsetting people by lighting fires, this might not last.
I need to have a think. I had hoped to do some burning this weekend, but maybe I need to decide if it would be better to cut up the stuff smaller and make a lot of bags up for the garden waste collection.
Either way, the loppers were a good buy, I’ll get to use them again for the bagging up!
Today we went to Alnwick Garden. The cherry orchard is blooming just now, and the walled garden is beautiful as always. It was too cold to play in the fountains, sadly, although Dave did stick his head into one of them. I’m excited that our tickets from today are valid for a year, so we can go back again later.
They have a great shop there, which sells plants propagated from the gardens. I spotted a number of plants that I’d like to plant out in our garden when it’s ready. Usually I rely on taking pictures with my phone to remember anything, but had forgotten to pick up my phone today, so have got no memory of the various specific names I wanted to remember. I do remember that we saw some geraniums which would be good ground cover, and a number of others which looked like they would do well in the shade.
And also in the shop I spotted one of the plants I already have but hadn’t identified. It’s a eucalyptus tree. I thought at first that it was a little shrub, as I found a few seedlings that had managed about three foot of growth, and was planning to encourage them. Then I discovered a mature tree at the back of the garden and realised it’s a tree when fully grown. I don’t know which specific type it is, but it looks like it might be a Eucalyptus gunnii.
One of the problems I have is identifying plants. I really struggle to find a good way to definitely identify something that is growing in the garden. I wish I could find a way of doing this more easily. I guess eventually I’ll just find out what they all are, but I wish there was a way of looking them up more easily. I’m really surprised that there isn’t a better web site out there which would let me work it all out. Ideally, I would love an iphone app where I could just point the camera at the plant, but that’s probably a bit too much to wish for!
Today I’ve been out to the garden for the first time this year. It was great!
The bulbs I planted last autumn are blooming – particularly the grape hyacinths which have grown huge. I love the difference when bulbs are planted in the ground instead of containers. Given that I’ve only had pots since I last had a garden in 1999, it’s so heart warming to see a good sized flower blooming merrily, instead of a wee thing that only lasts a few weeks. I was right about planting them to encourage me in the garden after the winter.
Most of the ground I cleared last year has remained clear. A little bit of ivy sprouting back, and some little weeds, but really it’s pretty good. There are lots of leaves on the path, so I need to clear that up again, but it’s such a boring job I couldn’t be bothered today.
Instead, what I did was turned trees into shrubs. The great tit, blue tits and pair of coal tits were very interested in what I was doing, and I spent a while watching them and wondering if any of them had a nest. There were clearly no nests in the leggy little saplings, so I thought I could just carry on, but I did get a scolding. So, now I have a range of smaller elders which will hopefully bush out.
Last year I made very slow progress. I spent time carefully bagging up all the clippings and putting them into the brown bin or the compost heap, while separating out all the rubbish and putting out black bags for the bin man. I was really careful to remove from the garden anything that I touched. Over the winter, I had the idea that ivy wasn’t the enemy, and that I could stop trying to remove the entire plantation but instead trim it back and cultivate it in useful places. And I also was aware that the reason I’ve got such amazing soil in this garden is because it’s made from all the wonderful organic matter that has fallen down and been composted under the cover of the ivy.
Today, instead of cutting and bagging up all the cuttings, I started making compost borders. I’m making this up as I go along. I thought I’d just pile up all the stuff I’ve cut down and layer it with ivy. My idea is that in the short term I can clear out the main areas of the garden that will allow me to work on the paths and structure of the ground. During this time, the bugs and birds will have a playground. Later, I’m not sure exactly what will happen, but I’m hoping that some composting will happen, and some ivy will grow, and I can eventually just trim back the ivy into shape. The soil underneath will be amazing, and if I ever want to, I can pull it all out and plant traditional borders.
Making faster progress will be really good for me – it’s disheartening when I see that all last summer I only managed to do a tiny corner of the garden. Today I managed to cover loads of ground and I only came inside because I was dying for some lunch.
I haven’t posted at all since the Christmas holidays. I haven’t been thinking much about gardening. Our garden is easy to ignore – behind the flat, five floors down, and largely invisible because of the trees.
However, this last few weeks the weather has clearly turned a corner, and it’s spring. This weekend we’ve been to the botanics twice. Yes, twice. And I have a few photos to share.
Firstly, some photos I’m collecting of plants that I want to get when the garden is ready for new plants:
Now for the less morally upright stuff. This is the cutting which I stole from a Forsythia on the way back from the gardens today. I have been saying for a while that I’m bound to turn into one of those people who goes around snipping bits off other people’s plants, and it started today. I bought “pocket secateurs” from the botanics shop today so that I can satisfy the growing urge (get it? ahahaha. ahem.). Et je presente:
And finally, in indoor news, Mr Cactus has got a big plan:
So, in summary, I am inspired. I’m so easily pleased with a bit of sunshine and warmth. Next weekend I start a week’s holiday, and I’m planning to get into the garden to make some noise.
This post is just to share one of the ‘before’ videos that I took of the garden in July. It’s just outside our back door and shows how much crazy ivy and tree action was going on before I cleared that section. I need to take another one and show the difference.