Sunday, 27 February 2011

A couple of days off for good behaviour - time for some hard labour!

Finally a bit of spade action this weekend! Hurray!!!!
I'm at a loss for words. In real life, embrace those moments when I don't have many, it really doesn't happen very often. Before I lose the words entirely, I'll tell you why. I finally got outside into the garden. Well, my weather induced lifestyle for once, has pulled a blinder! We've had the most gorgeous weekend and I do mean wonderfully warm, sunny and although windy, it has been bearable wind (rather than that nasty, knock you off your feet and throw you to the ground, normal wind!). The Lapwings have arrived back and they are sky dancing in the field there over the green netting in the photo below.

My garden is really a bit of field, which had been roughly fenced with wood, a very rickety fence, which I nearly replaced but instead I've put my energy into making it more secure by adding rabbit netting and wind break netting and planted 50m of hard wood willow cuttings last March to make a windbreak. All of which needs repaired after this winters gales. One side, field, my side 'almost' a garden. The field keeps trying to reclaim its kin, I'm ready for it! Welcome to my boring garden, which happens to have a lovely view. The garden will get more interesting I promise, the view however, is always breathtaking. How on earth can a garden compete with that? The view needent worry, aside a goodly amount of willow hedging and bare soil, there's not alot in the garden to compete with the view for the moment. One day a haven it will be, today it is a stolen piece of field.

My garden, the field and the sea. Often they are not in harmony! Today they are.
I woke up on saturday morning to the sun streaming in the windows - up with the skylarks (who've also just started singing in the field by the house - the sounds are wonderful!). No room for maneovre with this weather, I was out in the garden by 8.30..............cuppa in hand. I informed the garden that it was time the two of us go reacquainted. Anyone who's read my blog before will know that the weather features heavily in everything. This weekend I feel like I've had a couple off days of for good behaviour. I have to say, it's been wonderful. Kind of like that euphoria which must come when you finish a diet and start indulging. Although to be honest I've been more like one of those sailors who seldomly gets into port. I've partied hard and long with my spade this weekend. My feet ache from wellie-action, my shoulders and arms are heavy but my, oh my - do I have the biggest, although, exhausted grin on my face, Well I would if I had the energy to grin.................

Ah there is my trusty wheelbarrow, how I've missed you old friend. Full to bursting with rooted 1 year old willow cuttings ready to move and replant in a different border.
First I dug out 4m of hedge and moved it to a side bed, then I replanted it. Mainly a mixture of Willow (Basket, Alaskan, Hookers and Grey), Poplar and Gorse. I need hardy species which might live here, they aren't pretty but they do survive and thats the key. If I can get a bit of shelter I can get a bit of garden going (hopefully). I know it's boring, willow, gorse, gorse, willow, but it will grow and believe me, I can't think of anything more boring to a plantswoman than planting willow and gorse hedges. I'm almost asleep writing about it, but I'm grateful for them as with thier shelter I might actually get a garden. And, they've survied a year here - therefore I bow down to them like mecca, I may actually have some shelter soon. And, making the most of the shelter of the fence, the hens arrived to give the new bed the once over - and a bit of an inspection........

The hens making sure I did a good job of moving the hedge.........I think I passed the inspection...the random shoe is still in the fushia border, haven't had the heart to move it yet.
Then came another bit of spade fun, I decided to dig up more of the lawn and 3m was of turf was quricly removed - I'd previously started a small bed by the window of the house. Now I'm thinking that I'll extend it - put in a low wall or a wattle fence and then I'll plant a border which might be a bit more sheltered but to be viewed from the house............I know its all a bit angular and thin (2-3ft wide) at the moment - I'm still thinking - the lawn here will probably just go, but I'm still figuring it out - so for the moment - the border only follows the very angular path - it's a start. Boring, but a start - I'm focussing on shelter - then I can make things more interesting, honest! I rely on garden blogs for my spring colour at the moment and more interesting things. My own garden is being difficult at the moment, it will be beautiful, it just needs a bit of time and a humungous amount of willow cuttings.

Next, having lifted a goodly bit of turf, with barely anything else to do, as there are currently very few plants in this garden, with a decent cup of coffee under my belt, my spade was up for even more action. I think that when you've been locked inside for a long winter, you need new blood. Or to be precise, new borders. I had been mulling the idea of making the top end of the garden hedged (I'm cleary in a bit of a hedge mood at the moment.) which of course meant lifting more turf. Oh, dear what a shame, I just happened to have a spade handy..........

Not a bad view when you take a bit of a break from digging...........Hoy is the island in the distance.
I accidentally managed to lift a tiny corner of the turf to see how easy it would be and whilst it was stoney, it lifted just fine, so I carried on...... At this point, I decided to have a wee think - with about 8m of turf lifted (before 12pm) I decided that I needed reinforcements. BRB (Big Red Beast) was fired up and came to my rescue. Not for the digging you understand, merely to take the turf around to another area for stacking to let it rot down into loam. I never need an excuse to use BRB, I've no real need for such a big mower now - but I quite like having him! A for helping with the digging, I'm afraid, I'm a lone-gardener - I prefer to dig my own patch - thankfully I've never had a partner interested in gardening. I'm very happy digging away by myself - I don't mind other folk taking an interest - but I like the hard labour, I like lifting turf and I don't really want to share that with anyone. Odd, probably - but that's just the way I am. Thus far, in my life, I've not had to fight anyone for the affection of my spade, I hope it remains that way. Excuse the washing in the view, on a day like today - the machine was in overdrive and out on the line - no exceptions! And, I certainly wasn't taking it in to take a pretty photo. Very sorry, but if anyone comes to visit on a dry, sunny day - expect to see washing out!

Getting back to BRB, at our last house I looked after a 2 acre garden for the owners - we needed a big mower and BRB was purchased second hand with some contract money from a botanical survey I did. He was paid for by flowers, I like that! The trailer arrived later as a happy co-incidence, the two are a welcome bonus in the garden - he's mainly used as a mini-tractor now - I generally mow this garden with a small electric mower - it is alot less hassle. Its fun to drive, don't get me wrong - I can have serious boy/girl-racer issues with this beast. I even took him up the track for a bit of a run, just to clear him out (he's not been driven in ages) and I needed to free up the trailer wheels (honest). Then having had a bit of a jaunt on BRB, it was time to get back to a bit of hard grafting.

After lunch (omelette and windowsill salad leaves) I undid the hen run fence - moved 5 stobs (fencing posts) and moved the fence - I'm going to extend their summer hen coup - I'm fencing them in again once it's done. Whilst I'm gardening over the summer they can have an enclosed run. Why you ask? Just take a look at this.......................this kind of behaviour is cute and funny when nothing is growing, in the summer I think it would drive me demented - therefore they need to be fenced in for 4-5 months - sorry girls, it's for your own safety. A gardener and her garden are not to be messed with!

That is my newly made raised vegetable patch,  currently it appears to be hosting 6 chickens.................thankfully it's only full of dung at the moment and no plants, but they are having a right old time in there aren't they? I like them, but in the summer they will be fenced in.

They look happy don't they, um, they need a place of their own I think!

Having opened up their enclosure, I managed to get about 100 of many more daffodils dug up and ready to relocate elsewhere in the garden. This is turning into a bit of a garden tour really isn't it? Anyway they came up easily and the hens again enjoyed a bit of my company as they hunted for worms in the new holes.

Lending another helping hand.............

Free daffodils...........
 After I'd rehomed most of the daffodils by the byre, I decided to do a bit more planting. Well, first another cuppa and onto putting in a bit of fruit - the Autumn Bliss raspberries arrived a couple weeks ago and I have finally had the chance to get them planted - I'm calling this area 'Pavolva Avenue' - we love raspberries and love pavlova. We have an abundance of eggs, we need an abundance of raspberries to go with them. I like autumn fruiting rasps as there is no tying in, they fruit on first year growth - flower a bit later - which is a bonus in my climate - and they appear to be quite prolific here. That's the one for me then!. Excuse these photos it was getting a bit dark by then, it was after 5pm and the sun was getting low...........

Pavlova Avenue, Autumn fruiting raspberries - at sunset!

Well, almost time to hang up the spade and have a bit of a sit down. I'm so chuffed I've finally got out into the garden. The hedge was beginning to break bud and I'm glad I got it moved and replanted. I like lifting turf (what is wrong with me?) and I've created 3 new borders. The bare rooted fruit has started to go in Pavlova Avenue will be joined later by Currant Close. I've had fun driving my BRB and I'm so glad I ache from a bit of real hard work

Happy hard working muddy boots beside my wonderful old Orkney chair.

I've still got the hen enclosure to re-fence - but I'll get to that this week I hope. In between times they are enjoying being in and out of the open enclosure for the moment.

The open hen coup - looking towards the north west, inland.

I think I've had a bit of spade fever this weekend. How I've missed it so. I'm glad the hedges and the structure of the garden are beginning to come along. I moved into this house on the 1st March 2010 - a year ago this week. Formerly a field with a rickety wooden fence around it. Now, its beginning to become a garden, slowly but surely I'm clawing it back from the field. Today has been very enjoyable in the sunshine and the wind. I don't get many days like this, which is why I've made the most of it. The best thing of all is that my boots are covered in mud from hard work, rather than from slodging through the mud back and forth with no fun inbetween!

Dirty boots! Happy owner.


  1. I'm afraid you have quite put me to shame! I have been quite lazy about getting into my garden and preparing it for the coming season but you have given me the kick up the backside I needed to get going.

    Thank you for that!

  2. Aw thank you azza - to be fair - I've not been able to get out there for over 4 months - the wind has been terrible - and I'm also a gardener to trade - if I can't sort my own patch out - then I can hardly help other people!!!! I'm currently stuck at a desk monday-friday finishing up a thesis - after that I hope to be so much more active out there!!
    Thank you for popping by - there is still so much to do out there. But without the hedges, I've not got a hope - so as the season of bare-rooted goodness is upon us - I need to get myself motivated and the spade out!
    (Its great fun too!)

  3. Wow. You've had an incredibly productive day!
    All that energy must come from being cooped up for so long. Well done it's going to look fabulous.

  4. Well done, you must be absolutely shattered now. But it sounds like you enjoyed it! Hope you can get out there a bit more this week. x

  5. Blimey - you're like a min-tornado. Well done. I feel quite dizzy looking at all your efforts.

  6. Oh wow! You're a powerhouse! And such a beautiful outlook over your land. The hens look so happy too!!

  7. How exciting to have an open canvas of earth to create upon. I know this is back breaking work and you are off to a great start! What a lovely setting and stunning view. I would be very sore in my back after that much digging and planting. Love your hens! Lovely blog! Glad to have found you over at blotanical!

  8. Hi Fay,
    All of your gardening muscles must have had a serious workout.That's a power of work you've done on your patch.
    Your lovely feathery ladies are going to be well put out when they can't follow where you've been digging to get easy worms LOL.
    Your washing blowing on the line with the BRB and the astonishing views makes a great picture,by the way.

  9. Dear Fay, I am exhausted just reading your posting! What an enormous amount you achieved in what seems to me a very short period of time....with minimal coffee/ tea/ lunch breaks. I am seriously impressed.

    Do you have an overall design for the garden? You certainly have the knack of turf lifting and I do so hope that you have a plan for the borders that you are creating at a merry rate of knots. Whatever, the view is idyllic and I agree that no garden could ever seriously compete with what Nature has already created for you in your piece of Eden!

  10. Wow, I'm so impressed, it's looking fabulous! Well done you, and it looks like you had a fabulous day, so glad you managed to get out there! You've inspired me to do the same thing xx

  11. You have a fabulous piece of property gifted with an incredible view, which is quite properly part of your garden! You certainly had a great day, and I admire your industriousness. I love the photo of your wash!

  12. Duchess you are right the energy came from being couped up!
    Fran - I ache everywhere! But it's a good ache!
    David - that phrase has been used before! Fun being a whirling dervish!
    Mrs Bok that are very happy aren't they - they like the view too.....
    Carol thank you! It is a great view - love blotanical I'm getting my spring fix there!
    Julie, glad you like brb and the washing! The hens will be cross won't they.....
    Jenny -hello - it was lovely to get out there, glad you're inspired!!
    Debs - thank you - thought the laundry might offend - but guess it's real life eh?

  13. Dear Edith
    A lovely question. I do have a design - the main thrust at the moment is to get the areas by the house defined and windbreak boundaries erected. Stage 1.
    I'm carving the garden up into rooms to try and manage the wind and create a few separate areas. I'm pretty limited in the plants I can grow, aside willow and gorse and a few hardy shrubs the garden will have to be mainly perennials to give it a fighting chance. I've started with very defined ares to give some interest from beds and shapes over the winter months, when that will be really all I can see. Generally I have looked at the garden from the windows in each room - considered my indoor view and thought of what I'd like to see from there too. I see a lot of the garden from the windows from September to march.......that's my starting point.

    Thank you for all the lovely comments!

  14. Hi Fay, what a wonderful weekend - and such breathtaking views as the backdrop to your work! You're not mad - or rather we both are - turf lifting is wonderful. Physical work that reclaims ground for planting - can't beat it! Except perhaps with the planting. Love 'Pavlova Avenue', love that you bought BRB with flowers. I still have some residual aches from my own weekend with a spade - or spork - which was mostly under leaden grey skies. Great to see your garden gradually coming together, I may be loony but I actually really like willow and gorse, and think as a hedge it will be very in kepping with your wild surroundings, a kind of graceful transition from the wild to the tamed beauty of a garden. Probably because on Anglesey Rosa rugosa and comfrey were used in a similar way with a backdrop of wild gorse. Great to see Blotanical giving your more - much deserved - traffic. Must get on over there and fave you!

  15. Lovely post. I'm so envious that you can work your gardens. Soon here, but not yet. Your pictures were so inviting, I could almost smell the wonderful fragrance of the soil. I'm so ready... just need the sun to shine here for awhile.

  16. Carolyn - thank you, I'm sure you'll get out there soon enough - I hope the sun shines on you when it comes!

    Janet - I was reading your blog the other day and thinking ah ha! You dug up all your grass too!!

    I do like the willow etc but find often I'm longing for more exotic plant life! You are right though - that new bed will probably be the place for the lovely rosa rugosa.............thank you for the fave on blotanical!

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