Wednesday, 2 May 2012

Digging for fitness.

I'm back in the garden, uni work all done. After all that drought business (it's what I wrote my feature on), it's been so wet outside I couldn't do anything for a week; there was literally puddles in the garden. The shed next door doesn't have a gutter, so we get an extra few sq metres of water catchment dumped down by the wall, which turns to mud. No use digging that.

The past couple of days have been decent however, and I finished off the digging. So much work, but worth it.

I found a frog (not a real one) while digging. I'll upload a picture of that soon, it's not washed yet. Also, I think the neighbours beyond the wall might have gotten jealous at how clear our garden is (theirs is/was an absolute jungle of weeds and thorns) - I couldn't find our rake, looked over the the wall, and there it was - they'd been using it to rake up weeds. Even had a ladder leaning up against the wall - obviously climbed over, cheeky bastards. I shall be hiding the rake from now on.

Meanwhile, the flower mixes in the beds are growing:

And most of the indoor plants are flourishing. I think I'll plant them outside soon.

Next step is to get the lawn sown. I went into Putney today to buy grass seed (buy one get one free in Robert Dyas!), so I'm all prepared...just watching the weather forecast as I don't want the seeds to get washed away after planting!


Wednesday, 4 April 2012

Little green babies.

It's been a while - I've been busy with uni work, including a feature I have decided to do on London gardening (suppose could be inspired by this). Not much has happened with the garden then, but things are sprouting!

The indoor pots:

These are French Marigolds, variety: 'Glowing Embers'. We're also growing a variety called 'Jolly Jester'.

Gazania, Tiger Stripe. These will be impressive when they flower!

There's still two plants to appear - the Trailing Lobelia (Red Cascade) & the Sea Holly. I'm not too worried about the Sea Holly sprouting, as I wasn't exactly taken with its appearance on the packet...haha.

Outdoors, there are tiny green shoots everywhere. This seed is dwarfing the rest (camera stubbornly refused to focus on the actual stalk I'm talking about, but at least you can see the other seedlings):

I won't be sowing the grass seeds for the lawn until I'm back from Spain - I leave on Monday for a week there with the rowing team. Hoping to prepare all the soil before I leave, then it might get some moisture before it gets sown - we've actually had some April showers, which I was unusually happy about!

Since I last posted, I went camping for a couple of days on Lundy Island, off the coast of North Devon. This island is not only a haven for some rarely seen birds and marine life, it also flourishes with beautiful wild flowers and plants (some, like the 'Lundy cabbage', are found nowhere else in the world). I didn't visit for the plants, and wouldn't have known if I had come across any rare specimens, but I'll leave you with a few pictures of the island anyway.

 Lundy ponies

 Clumps of some strange plant growing on cliffs

 There were so many different coloured little flowers like this

 Tiny pieces of granite filling up crevices on a carpet of moss

 Gorse - smells like coconut and pineapple...amazing

 Coastline, North to South

 Saw seals in this bay

View from the 'Old Light'


Friday, 23 March 2012

Finders keepers.

As promised, here is my very attractive new watering can.

I've found quite a few objects in the garden since I began this project, including some rusty shears and a glass candle-holder. But never anything that useful, until today, when I uncovered a mug! Not a bad one either. Here's what it looked like, freshly dug-up... was packed full of mud, but I cleaned it all out, washed it, and made a cup of tea. Lovely!

Here's the progress so far on the digging. Slow slow slow.

But, the Snapdragon (you can see in above photo) is flourishing outdoors - it was only planted out on Wednesday and I swear the uppermost leaves are already twice the size:

I'm happy it's happy; Snapdragons look amazing when they flower.


Wednesday, 21 March 2012

A few flowers.

I've been busy recently, but yesterday me and Bob went to Putney to get some gardening supplies. Robert Dyas (the shop) was actually quite interesting - it sold some other stuff like candles and plates too. Annoyingly however, they had an offer on their grass seed (buy one, get one free), and it was all sold out. Apparently they get new stock tomorrow, so we'll check back soon or buy some online. We did get 60l of compost, and a rather dainty watering can, which I forgot to take a picture of but will do soon.

Exciting day gardening-wise. I got up at 8am and didn't really leave the garden until gone 4. Last night Bob and I stole 20 bricks from across the road (they're rebuilding a wall and leave bricks stacked up overnight), so I built two more borders, one on the other side of the steps and one along the wall at the end.

I also dug up a few more huge rocks, the biggest of which Rene had to help me pull out. I've gradually come to the conclusion that to save money, whoever laid the garden used a truckload of rubble, with about 6 inches of soil on top, in the worst spots. I stopped digging too deep in the end; we'd have no garden left if I tried to remove all the stone. Here's what I've pulled out so far, helpfully filling the hole the fallen fence created:

When Bob came down to help, we planted all the seeds we have that are suitable for outdoor sowing. Two flower-mix boxes (they looked like sawdust, but let's see what happens), Nasturtiums and Sweet Peas. We also re-planted a few pots I've had growing on my desk: Parsley, Coriander, Basil, and a Snapdragon. The herbs we put in the same bed, sort of creating a herb garden...

Bob said it was nice to see something green in the garden - I agree, and it'll be even better when the rest germinates in a couple of weeks! Meanwhile, I'm kinda missing the greenery here on my desk.

To finish up, we planted an assortment of the indoor sowers in 14 small pots we had lying about. Their home for now is the kitchen, until they're big enough to plant outside. Bob also took a saw to some of the annoying low-hanging branches of the Eucalyptus, and we can use them as canes for the sweet pea.

Sunday, 18 March 2012

Gardening as procrastination.

This morning I started digging over what will be the flower beds. Bob's got mounds of seeds, so we may as well use them. I've made two beds either side of the steps, and outlined them with bricks - I'll half bury them later so they stay in place.

You might notice I also practised a little topiary on the bush - still need to finish off the top.

Also digging over the rest of the garden, and removing rocks, which are annoyingly prolific. Here's how many I collected in less than a square foot.

I've found we have a clay soil - this wasn't hard to discover, as there are lumps of clay! Slightly better than a sandy soil apparently, but still not ideal. 

Next steps - to try and level off the garden, whilst removing rocks, and then start planting. Me and Bob plan to go and buy a watering can, compost, and grass seeds on Tuesday. I'll post soon with pictures of the flowers we intend to plant etc. 

For now, I must start an essay due in tomorrow....gardening majorly distracted me this week.


Thursday, 15 March 2012


Our landlord came over on Tuesday night, and I mentioned our plans for the garden. He's perhaps one of the most laid back guys I've met, and couldn't really care less what we do. But he did say that there's a hosepipe ban starting next month, which I didn't know. Not that we've got a hose. I was planning on buying a watering can.

A drought could be a problem with planting though. I've been doing research on planting lawns, and pretty much the best time to do it is April, because of the frequent 'April showers'. Then I recall that we didn't even have any showers last year. None. I read in the paper today that the last 2 years have been almost the driest on record. It's not looking good.

On the plus side, I found some gardening gloves in the mystery kitchen cupboard. Today was a beautiful day, and I spent it all in the garden, which is now all dug over. Feel like I've had quite a work out. In my opinion, there's nothing more satisfying than pulling a weed out by its root. Or not much.

Monday, 12 March 2012

The Beginning.

In the beginning there were the beer cans. The empty paint tins. Plastic bags, rusted metal, and a head cushion from a first-class train carriage.

Today was a good day for gardening: started off foggy, then developed into sunshine and warmth. I cleared all the surface debris, filling a bag.

I'm leaving the road signs. They're like outside art.

The garden itself, rubbish removed, is mostly soil, rocks, long curls of bark (the tree sheds), and strange leafy weeds:

Today I dug up perhaps a fifth of the garden; the very end by the wall. It worries me that the only growth is these strange weeds - are they the only thing capable of growing?

Here is the garden as it looks now. I'll continue clearing the weeds until it's all done, then decide what to do next. Some of the ground is so thick with rocks and bits of bricks it's almost impossible to dislodge. And getting mud under my fingernails is not a sensation that I've missed.

I should get it all dug over this week.