Thursday, May 19, 2005

Shoe fetish?

The mangy foxes in our area are pretty cocky, they roam around the neighbourhood at all hours, scavenge the bins, ripping the bags and distributing rubbish, and they poo (not sure if I can write shit?) all over the place – argh, it reeks! But the following incident tops them all… Niall and I had just got back from work and as usual left the patio door open to ventilate the back room since it catches the sun in the afternoon. We were in the kitchen and heard a sound from the next room. Niall goes to investigate and sees a fox with one of his ‘Prestige’ trainers in its jaws heading down the garden and one of Ben’s trainers lying across the lawn! Out goes Niall, to the rescue, chasing the fox which thankfully drops the trainer. (There would have been hell to pay if Niall hadn’t recovered his ‘Prestige’ trainer – he’s very proud of his ex-communist Czech Republic purchase.) We think the drama is all over when a few minutes later the fox is back again trying to liberate another trainer – any trainer, that is, except mine which were next to the patio door. Do my trainers pong that much? Nah, they just don’t pong enough – that’s what it is! Keeping an eye out for any dodgy looking foxes loitering in our street and I won’t be throwing trainers at them – that’s for sure!! This does explain the leather slipper left in the back garden a couple of weeks ago though…

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Water shortage?

Since March I haven’t heard anything further that would suggest that we will be facing a hose pipe ban. We were given the warning that it had been a dry winter and then it went quiet. After checking the Environment Agency website it seems that there has been below average rainfall affecting groundwater although reservoirs are stable. We’ve had our water butt for a month now, and during this period I thought that we had received quite a bit of rain (especially during April). So I was a little surprised when we ran out on Saturday! I’ve been using the water for pot-bound plants and seedlings – watering whenever I’ve noticed the compost looking a little dry – but nothing more than that.

I guess this demonstrates that ordering the second butt as a back-up wasn’t such a bad idea after all… That’s Niall with his Piscean instinct! He’s cleverly devised a way in which the second water butt can act as an overflow. It seems that we need to collect all the rainwater we can to see us through the summer. In theory droughts will be a distant memory, and our patch will remain forever green!

Girl Friday

YES!! After weeks of relative inactivity going to have this Friday off and spend the whole day in the garden! Got plenty of jobs to be getting on with:

  • clearing away the grassy section in one of the front borders
  • planting out the box, peas, French beans and Runner beans
  • repotting the sunflower seedlings and staking them
  • feeding the hedges in the front garden and the roses in the back
  • cutting back the rocket, lemon balm and geraniums
  • trimming the rosemary, cotton lavender and lavender
All this along with your general maintenance... roll on Friday, I’m a-ready!!

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Get Well Soon Burt

Found out this weekend that our neighbour, Burt, is in hospital. Now we have come to appreciate Burt as the fount of all knowledge relating to Colliers Wood (our hood!). He has been invaluable for news, updates, gossip and history. Initially we were a little wary of this unsolicited information but since Burt is alone (and Robbie his beloved terrier passed away last year) we’ve got a lot of time for him.

We have, in the past, offered to mow his lawn and cut back his vine and fruit trees but he enjoys these jobs himself. Unfortunately since his departure weeds have grasped the opportunity to run rampant. They cover both his borders and are choking his lawn. I’d really like to help him out but think that we should ask first. He's been looking after his patch of green since the 1940s and probably wouldn’t appreciate our ‘interference’!

Of course weeds know no boundaries and have been colonizing areas set aside for me flowers and veg (if I ever get them outside!). Oh, get well soon Burt, we’re missing your chats and just having you pottering about!!

Thursday, May 12, 2005

Fig-ilious – yummy

As my other half, Niall, will readily testify to patience is not one of my virtues. So I’m chuffed that my fig (nicked named Bob – don’t laugh! Bob was actually christened Ben, but then Ben moved in and to avoid confusion Ben became Bob!) has grown sufficiently over the last two years that he is ready (and more able) to fruit. We were given Bob as a present from a friend of ours, Nima, and he advised us not to let Bob fruit until a bit bigger in size.

Bob has grown and been trying to fruit every summer. Resisting temptation I’ve removed the little fig buds as they have developed leaving the smooth branches and big pale green leaves. Earlier this year Bob was repotted into a beautiful blue container and reluctantly given a short back and sides. Again on Nima’s advice I’ve placed the four branches that were removed into water; hoping for some root action.

It seems that Bob like the new home and appreciates the trim since there are two fig buds protruding from the side branches. Given Bob’s size I think that two maturing figs are enough. Apparently it takes two years for a fig to develop – blimey, that’s really going to be a test for my patience!!

Wedding Plans!

No, not mine!

Hooray!! Two good friends are getting hitched, one this September and other one in August next year. Can’t wait!! Plus, get to contribute to the flowers for both – but in different capacities. Suzy has asked if I can help her with the decision of which flowers to go for – this process is complicated by the fact that the wedding will be occurring in Brussels! And I offered to help Karen with the flowers for her wedding in August and so have a project for this year: going to see what flowers I can maintain over the summer months so that I can give Karen an indication of what can be provided.

Both Suzy and Karen are considering seasonal flowers and have stated that they prefer the natural look rather than bouquets of the same flower artistically arranged. That gets my vote… Was thinking of Sweet Williams, Red Sunflowers, Dahlias, Roses and anything else that might be flowering at the time for Karen. Just perfect for Karen! Suzy’s after more foliage in the scheme and we’ve discussed using herbs for greenery, structure and scent. As to the colour – well anything orange, red and yellow! Very Suzy!

I think that 2006 will be the year of the flower!

Friday, May 06, 2005

Yoga and/or gardening?

The squirrels have been busy over winter since I’ve pulled up three horse chestnut saplings, the strangest place was from behind a pile of wood against the garage at the back gate... They don’t waste any time getting started in life at about 30 cm high it’s still a battle to yank them out – and no, it’s nothing to do with my abilities since the Chaturanga Dandasana (Staff pose), Adho Mukha Svanasana (Downward Dog), Urdhva Mukha Svanasana (Upward Dog) my yoga instructor has been torturing (oh, that should be teaching) us has improved the upper body strength no end!!

Of course it doesn’t help that our yoga instructor has decided to ‘time’ our core activities during the Saturday morning two hour class so that instead of relaxing into each posture you are straining to maintain Bhujangasana (Cobra) for two minutes, Salamba Sirsasana (Headstand) for ten minutes and perform the Virabhadrasana (Warrior) cycle as a continuous flow. Muscles ache at the end of each session and there’s just no energy left for the rest of the day. That limits gardening pursuits over the weekend to one day… Still it gives you the perfect excuse to just hang out and relax!!

Thursday, May 05, 2005


It was early one Saturday morning, in February, someone was out with an electric saw. Given the time of day it sounded pretty loud – someone was definitely eager to get a head start. The racket woke our guests and as we were all discussing the noise in the kitchen we discovered the source. There were three tree surgeons hanging from the conifer at the end of our lane. Then I noticed that the tree was half it’s usual size – boy, these guys don’t waste any time… and within 30 minutes there was nothing left.

You could understand why the owner would want to remove the tree since it towered above the houses in the area and they obviously received little, or no, light in the mornings. But on the other hand, it was home to many nesting birds and (more importantly!) hid the Ministry of Death (aka an extremely ugly eyesore – what were the town planners thinking of in the 60s?).

It’s only with the lengthening days that I’ve really begun to appreciate what a difference the tree, acting as a screen, made. So although I was initially unhappy with its removal, there are some benefits. But if any one attempts to touch the horse chestnut at the end of our road they will have very strong resistance from this household!!

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

Happy Anniversary!

Would you believe that it was about this time, four years ago, that we moved into our house with so much excitement and disbelief? Wow, our house? Pinch me someone!! I'll never forget moving-in over the May Bank holiday weekend; the sun was beaming down and there were the irises pulling out the stops with a glorious bloom – they were the only permanent residents in the garden along with the apple tree, woody rose bushes and one huge shrub.

The garden hasn’t changed a lot since 2001, there have been plenty of new arrivals but the old-timers are still going strong. At the moment the irises are flowering just above the bluebells so the borders are awash with shades of blue. Irises surprise me; they loiter at the back of the bed looking slightly tatty for most of the year but come April they smarten themselves up and then produce their lovely soft flowers. Our roses are currently covered in foliage – a definite improvement from the skeletons when we first arrived. The apple tree is in full blossom, covering the garden in confetti. Oh, and the huge shrub is now a massive shrub!!